Monday, December 12, 2011

Winter Blooming (forced) Potted Lily bulbs

While shopping at one of the big box stores the other day, we noticed containers of lovely Oriental lilies in full bloom for Christmas and realized some of you might be receiving potted lilies as a hostess gift or using them to add fragrance to your holiday decorations.

There are two concerns that we feel should be addressed.
#1 - Although native lily bulbs were regularly consumed by the North American Indians and people in the Orient for generations, those bulbs were truly "organic" - no harmful pesticides, fungicides or growth regulators were used.

Lily bulbs, as well as many other flower types, that are grown in greenhouses as cut flowers or in pots outside of their normal blooming period - mid summer for lilies - are subjected to an array of chemical treatments to control insects, fungus, and (in the case of full size lily varieties) to artifically shorten the height of the stem to make a consumer-friendly indoor "potted plant".  Be mindful of small children and pets should you be tempted to include potted lilies within your holiday decor.

Giggling Anne Marie & Max in 1999.
Cats and small children are very, very sensitive to chemicals and all parts of the bulb, stem, leaves and flowers would be infused with chemicals of greenhouse grown bulbs.  Lilies grown in your own garden (unless you are part of a chemical urban assault team) do not pose the same risk.  We have always had cats on our farm, in the house, barn and gardens - and all have lived to a ripe old age without any ill effects, even from trying to tackle hummingbirds feeding on the lily flowers or hunting mice under a pile of discarded lily stems. Family Pets in your garden.
Max, like Dianna, a bit more "grey" in 2011.

The problem lies with chemicals - pure and simple - if you have small children, cats or dogs in your house, please reconsider using greenhouse grown commercially forced flowers.  Period.

#2  - What happens when the flowers have faded on this lovely plant and it is 18 degrees F. outside?

You will need to keep the stems exposed to sunlight for the next few weeks in order to allow the bulbs to replenish themselves for bloom next year.  When the foliage begins to turn yellow, cut the stems down to soil level, remove from the soil, pack them into a ventilated plastic bag surrounded by pet bedding, coarse sawdust, dry peat moss or dry potting soil and then put them in the fridge to give them a "winter" until late February or March when you can plant them into your garden to enjoy for years to come.

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