Thursday, December 27, 2018

Brown Lily Stem Cleanup

If you haven't cleaned up your lily garden before winter and the soil is not frozen, those crispy-brown stems do not require cutting, they can be simply pulled out of the ground. Removing old stems helps to control fungus spores in spring, plus gives a tidy look to your garden.

Ground frozen for winter? A pruning lopper - those long-handled tools for trimming trees makes short work of stems without crawling on frozen soil. If you are ready for a new set of loppers, consider one that telescopes and is of lightweight aluminium, which requires only a minimum of bending at the waist for taller individuals. Followed with a multi-pronged leaf rack, the flexible tines pile up cut stems quite neatly. I find that the grass rake pretty much just glides over dormant perennials, plus gathers up stray fallen leaves on bark mulch at the same time.

If you need the old stems as a "marker" for early spring planting of potted trees, shrubs or perennials, cut those stems about 4 inches above the soil. If you leave them at full height, they can be blown over by winter storms, creating a disheveled mess. However, when new lily stems begin emerging, the old husk of stems should be pulled away. We've seen new sprouts coming up inside the old stems, which can mechanically damage the new sprout or spread overwintered fungus spores.

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