Sunday, March 31, 2013

Lily Bulb Review - 'Gizmo' (Easter x Oriental)

This photo will be on the cover of our Fall 2013 catalog.    
One of my favorite pure white lilies, and the best white to come along in years, 'Gizmo' is a hybrid cross of the familiar white Easter Lily found in stores in spring and selected Oriental Hybrids.  (Easter weekend reminded me that I'd forgotten to publish this post.)  

Bigger in flower size than 'Casablanca', more tolerant of heat, and with a stronger stem to hold up its heavy flowers, this impressive variety is a good choice for areas with warmer summer temperatures that may cause heat stress in purebred Orientals. 

Blooming later than many OT (Orienpets) 'Conca d'Or' and 'Flashpoint'—two of my other favorite lilies—and most of the Orientals like  'Siberia', 'Star Gazer', 'Muscadette' and 'Acapulco', it makes a good "end of season" show in my garden.  Scent is more akin to Orienpet Hybrids, not the sweeter, spicy scent of 'Casablanca', but it's not overpowering and doesn't become obnoxious to the senses after 10 to 14 days of indoor floral use. 
'Conca d'Or' in the garden.

Officially, bloom time begins mid-July and the first year average height is 3 feet or more, but last summer's bulbs were still blooming at the very end of August due to our wet, cold summer and were pushing 5 feet tall in our southern field.  In the garden, with light shade, stems can be 6 feet tall the second year, so give them room to reach for the sky—no low overhanging branches.

A note to consider however is to be sure and place enough soil over the top of your bulbs when planting, because this baby will make a terrific amount of stem roots in even average soil.  In fact, our crew tends to groan whenever there is a block of 'Gizmo' in a row during harvest, because they are far more difficult to process while bulbs are cut free from stems.  We wait until lily leaves are turning yellow to dig, indicating that the bulbs are mature and firm enough to harvest, but even with matured leaves, the 'Gizmo' bulbs are rock solid and will not "let go" easily. 

Luckily, we do not plant all bulbs of a single variety in the same field because they need to be scattered throughout the farm to make the early fall harvest easier.  We only dig what is needed during the rush in October to fill orders.  The rest of that fall harvest is actually finished up in winter, often up to Christmas week, weather permitting, for the spring catalog and early Flower and Garden shows.

Pollen-bearing anthers.
Plant in a triangle of three bulbs for best effect, but space them at least 10 to 12 inches apart.  This wider spacing will allow the stems to fully show off the flowers without crowding.  Because the flowers are white and if you are using overhead irrigation, you might wish to pick off the pollen-bearing anthers when the flowers first open to avoid yellow stains on the petals. 

See how the anthers are beginning to open up in this closeup of 'Purple Lady' and that you can actually see the individual pollen grains beginning to dry?  Simply pull anthers off with your fingers before they begin to unfurl. (Our oldest son called these "antlers' when he was 4 years old, much to the surprise of garden visitors.)

P.S.  If entering a stem in competition, pick just as the bottom flowers are starting to open and do not remove the pollen or you will most likely lose points during judging.  Do not cut more than 1/3 of the leafy portion of the stem though, lilies need their leaves to rebuild the bulb for next year's flowering.—Dianna

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