Oriental lilies are highly prized for their large size, priceless beauty, rich colored petals and strong fragrance. Indeed, they have all the attributes that we anticipate from a flower. These bright lilies are perfect for bridal flower arrangement, bouquets and garden centerpieces. Hence, the demand for Oriental lilies in the flower industry is very high. Grow these fragrant lily cultivar right in your garden or indoors in flowerpots, and appreciate their spectacular blooms during summer.
Growing Oriental Lilies in the Garden
The most popularly planted variety of Oriental lilies is the Stargazer hybrid, which produces 4-5 blooms per flowering stalk. Besides this, varied Oriental lilies are available in shades of pure white, pink, crimson red, pink and white, golden and white, and other variegated hybrids. During summer, the matured plants bear conspicuous blooms on erect peduncles. The petals may be flat-faced, recurved or may face upwards. Based on the particular hybrids, these lilies can grow to about 6 feet in height, thus making excellent specimen plants in the garden.
Ideal Growing Season
There is no particular period for growing Stargazer or other Oriental lilies, and you can proceed for your gardening project at any time of the year. The only consideration is not to plant them during flowering period, i.e., during mid to late summer. For your convenience, you can grow them either in spring or fall months. As for planting Oriental lilies indoors, start with the bulbs directly in spring time.
Propagating Oriental Lilies
A common mode of propagating Oriental lilies is by using bulbs. This is probably the easiest method to grow Oriental lilies in the garden. Obviously, you can grow Oriental lilies from seeds with a bit of patience. The seeds germinate after several months, and you will need to transplant the seedlings again. Hence, if you are a newbie in gardening, opt for the bulb propagation method.
Deciding the Location
These lily varieties grow well in full sun and areas that are exposed to light shade. The ideal place for growing Oriental lilies is where the lilies receive maximum sunlight during the day and the location should be partly shaded in the afternoon time. For warm regions, a partially shaded condition is perfect for Oriental lilies. They require mild acidic (pH 5.6-6.0) soil, but can tolerate acidic (pH 6.1-6.5) soil too.
Preparing Plantation Site
All types of lilies including the Oriental varieties need moist, well-drained and nutrient rich soil. They do not grow in waterlogged soil and very dry soil. If your garden soil requires additional preparation, like adjusting soil pH, addressing drainage problems and nutrient supplementation, follow the same to meet the required conditions. You can augment planting soil with 1 inch of organic compost.
Planting Oriental Lily Seeds
During summer, the viable seeds are first exposed to warm temperature (about 70° F) for 120 days, followed by cold treatment (40-45° F) for the same period. Within the first 3 months, a small bulb and root develop, while the cold condition induces leaf development. Prior soaking of Oriental lilies in water for 5 consecutive days will fasten germination process. After the seedlings develop healthy leaves, transplant them in your garden.
Planting Oriental Lily Bulbs
For growing Oriental lily bulb, place it in already prepared soil in such a way that the top of the bulb lies at a depth of 1 inch below the soil surface. In other words, the planting hole should be 4 inches deep and 4 inches wide. Place a bulb in the hole and backfill the soil to cover bulb. To enjoy lovely blooms, plant them in groups, at least 3-4 bulbs with a spacing of about 8 inches between two bulbs.
Caring for Oriental Lilies
Oriental lilies require moderate water (about 2 inches water per week) for producing maximum flowers. Lay a layer of mulch to retain moisture and minimize weed growth. For the nutrient feeding part, apply appropriate lily fertilizer (preferably low nitrogen fertilizer) two times in a year, the first dose in spring and second application just before flowering.
Growing Oriental Lilies Indoors?
Since the basic growth conditions of lilies somewhat mimic that of the indoor environment, many hobbyists try planting them indoors, and they succeed in the same way with some effort. But, how to maintain Oriental lilies indoors? For this, you can plant newly bought, healthy lily bulbs in a container of about 6 inches depth. The large pot should be positioned near to a window or door, where the developing plants will receive abundant light and temperature between 50-75° F. If required, install fluorescent light for the lilies to induce timely blooming.
For both indoor and outdoor Oriental lilies, enjoy the blooms till their colors fade. Following this, deadhead the spent flowers to conserve nutrients for the new flower buds and leaves. As the foliage dies back, it is time to collect bulbs and store them in low temperature condition for the next year plantation. Whenever possible, use new bulbs for growing healthy Oriental lilies indoors.