Do you love bulbous lilies? This is a good time to plant them and there are lots to choose from at garden centres. Look out for them in flat packs hanging up next to the begonia tubers and gladiola corms.
If I mention my favourites it may be difficult to find them so, as usual, I think it’s a better idea to look at the picture on the front of the pack and choose the ones you like best. Easy peasy!
Check there are shoots appearing on top of each bulb. They have shoots now because they are in moistened packing.
Check the heights (they are in centimetres) and look for that important little word FRAGRANT.
All lilies enjoy a sunny top and a shaded root. Planted in the garden, they make a superb show when grown in groups of three of the same variety.
Plant them so that there is a 5in layer of soil over the top of the bulb and if the soil is heavy fork in a cupful of potting sand in the planting hole.
Thin individual canes will be required for tall varieties. If there are long shoots already, don’t panic. They are alive, so get them into the soil straight away. If the shoots seem to be bent, plant the tip upright.
Lilies look great in tubs and pots too and these can be moved around so that the garden can be enhanced.
Maybe put a pot in a border or against an attractive shrub. Pots need to have a hole in the base with some crocks for drainage.
Any Universal compost may be used or John Innes number 3, but add 20 per cent extra potting sand to ensure the drainage is efficient.
Place three inches of compost in the base of the pot and place three bulbs equally spaced in a 10 or 12in diameter pot and fill the pot to within an inch of the top.
Anchorage and feeding roots will grow all the way up the stems, exactly the right conditions for all bulbous lilies.
If planted within the next few weeks, the flowers will appear in July. Due to the way the bulbs were produced, it is very unusual to have disappointments.
Virus diseases were a great problem in the past. But again, due to breeding and excellent cultivation we don’t have to worry about this any more.
The worst problem is caused by the lily beetle, which flies into the garden in June and eats the edges of the foliage.
There are insecticides to combat this problem but at home we use a jam jar with a screw top and smear Vaseline on the inside.
The red beetles are picked off the leaves every day and put into the jar.
The beetles are bright red and about three times longer than a ladybird. You have to be very nimble-fingered to capture them. They are then knocked out on to smooth paving and given a sharp size 10!