Lilies are a perfect flower for container growing and can be planted in both spring and autumn, or in the summer if you are going to force the bulbs. With little effort for a big impact, lilies can be a great choice for many different gardens in a variety of styles. Lilies come in a wide variety of colours and shapes, so will suit most tastes.

Growing lilies:

Bulbs are best planted in the autumn, though spring is also suitable. Most varietals will grow well in pots, though it should be noted that taller plants may need some support. When growing lilies in pots, it is essential to make sure that you have prepared your containers correctly.

Make sure that you place around 5cm of crocks or small stones in the bottom of your containers to allow free drainage. Then begin to fill with a good quality potting compost. Remember to choose a potting medium suitable for the lilies you have chosen. For some varieties, an ericaceous compost is required. Bulbs should be placed with rootlets facing downwards of course, around the depth of the bulb, or following instructions given for the particular lily you have chosen to grow.

The number of bulbs you can fit in a given container will depend somewhat on the variety you are growing but generally speaking, you can put large single bulbs into 20-23cm containers and three or four smaller ones into a container with a diameter of 23cm-25cm. You should use a rule of thumb that there should be around 5cm between each bulb, though this is only a very rough guideline.

The potting medium should be kept moist but not saturated. In order to prevent waterlogging in areas where heavier rain might be expected, you should put the lilies in the rain shadow of a wall if they are not in a greenhouse or polytunnel.

Feed lilies every couple of weeks throughout the summer with an organic tomato feed – comfrey tea is one of the potassium rich options.

Lilies will not be hardy throughout the winter anywhere except in some places in the far south of England. However, lilies do need winter cold in order to flower well so they should not be brought into the house. Instead, they should be over-wintered in a polytunnel, unheated greenhouse, cold frame, shed or garage.

Why grow lilies in the garden?

Lilies may be rather delicate but many are beautiful and have a strong and intense fragrance. Their vibrant colours can also really make an impact in most gardens, which means that they can be a great addition to a container garden.

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