Monday, April 29, 2013

Time to Fertilize Lily Bulbs

Spread POOpeas in Midsummer.

The weather around the USA has been a bit more variable this spring than in years past, but now is the perfect time to spread fertilizer around your lily bed if you haven't already done so.  Simply scattering a complete fertilizer, such as vegetable or rose food around the lily sprouts and perennials will go a long ways to providing nutrients for optimum growth.  The ideal time is when the lilies are just beginning to show, but even if some varieties are a foot tall and others are only a couple of inches out of the soil, go ahead and do everything at one time, so the later ones are not missed.

Avoid sprayed high nitrogen formulas because they will weaken your bulbs over time, growing leaves at the expense of flowers.  Kelp or fish emulsion, paired with green-sand, potash and bonemeal is a good alternate to chemical fertilizers and will not "burn" should you apply too much.  Save spreading manure or compost around the stems until mid summer or fall, not in spring, especially when the weather is likely to still be wet. During periods of cold, wet weather you do not want to add mulch or anything that will prevent your garden soil to wick away excessive moisture.  Too much water can rot newly emerging sprouts.

If you completely missed fertilizing your lilies this spring, don't forget to the second application when the flowers are beginning to open.  In an established garden, with regular feeding of other plants, should you miss giving the lily bulbs fertilizer one complete season - don't worry - just catch up the next year.  However, never feeding lily bulbs will diminish their ability to increase in size and number,  plus the main bulbs will tend to wither away with smaller stems and fewer flowers.

Click How to Fertilize Lily Bulbs  for more complete instructions.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Emergency Transplanting - Moving Lily Bulbs to Pots

Will there be a new deck, sun patio or other construction under way this summer?   Has there been a last minute decision to "redo" the garden, but your lilies are already sprouted and they need to be moved out of harm's way before that 2-ton load of landscaping rocks is dumped?

It is possible to carefully move lilies even during active "above ground" growth.

A small section of garden was suppose to be dug out last fall for planting asparagus roots in May, but the job was not done and the lilies were happily emerging through the weeds.
Dig deeply and carefully, so you do not accidentally "spear" the bulbs

Even though the stake above ground had faded the second summer, the small pink tag buried with the lily bulbs is still readable, giving a reminder as to what variety was planted there four years ago.

Start with your shovel about 6 inches away from the emerging stems, to reduce the chance of accidentally cutting bulbs in half or breaking off the underground sprout.  With large bulbs, a broken sprout will not outright kill the lily, but it means that you have lost the flowering stem for this summer.

These sprouts had already begun to emerge and "green up".

See the long stems?  The white underground portion is where the feeder roots will be produced this summer; the basal plate roots at the bottom of each bulb anchors the lily against toppling in the wind.

Try to plant just as deep as they were originally growing.

Carefully plant bulbs at about the same depth as they were in your garden, using a very deep community pot if you plan to leave them all summer in a container or directly into a newly prepared garden location.  If you are moving to another residence and wish to pot them up temporary, use individual pots that are at least 8 inches deep, putting the bulb itself almost on the bottom, making sure the stem length is fully covered.  Later, while blooming you can move them around like furniture to decide the best combination, then simply slip the root ball out and plant an inch or so deeper than what they were in the pot.

These lilies were actually too deep in the garden but were re-planted with at least 6 inches of soil covering the bulbs.

This sprout had not yet emerged above ground and was accidentally broken.
Be careful while digging and watch for sprouts that have not yet emerged, but even if a sprout becomes broken, still plant the lily bulb with it's neighbors, because the bulb will most likely come up next year.  There will be potentially fewer flowers the next summer, but it should recover for the following year and flower normally.

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