Asiatic Lilies

By Morag Flight

Everyone loves the beauty of Lilies. Planting Asiatic Lilies (Lilium asiatica) in your garden gives you a stunning display. Asiatic Lily care is simple once you know how.

The secret to beautiful, long-lasting blooms is learning the right way to plant Asiatic Lilies. You will be rewarded with colourful and bountiful blooms on this prized perennial. Look for a good sunny position and prepare the soil ahead of time. The Lilies need about six hours of sun a day and the soil should be well-draining, which may require the addition of organic material worked in several inches deep. If you already have rich, organic soil in the area where you will be planting Asiatic Lilies, make sure it is loose and well-draining to six to eight inches deep. Bulbs of this lily should never sit in wet conditions. 

Work up sandy or clay soil by adding organic, well-composted materials. Sand or straw mixed into the beds before planting Asiatic Lilies improves drainage. Soil should drain well but hold moisture to nourish the growing Lilies.  Some people say that the Lilies prefer slightly acidic soil as well, but to be honest, I have not bothered too much about that.

I plant my bulbs in winter as apparently they need the chilly soil to develop a good root system and then they produce bigger bulbs. Plant the bulbs three times as deep as the height of the bulb, with the flat end down, then mulch lightly to retain moisture. In spring, plant short annuals around the Lily bulbs to shade them.  Give extra fertiliser or compost for optimum bloom, though, if you planted with good compost you will already have given them a good start.

You can top dress with slow release fertiliser as well, or feed with any liquid manure. When buds appear on your Lily, feed with a high phosphorus food, or bone meal, to make blooms bigger and last longer. Fertilise in limited amounts, as too much fertiliser, even the organic types can create lush green foliage but limit blooms. Proper care of your Asiatic Lily bulbs goes a long way in creating a beautiful display.

To ensure that the bulbs grow back each year, water the Lilies once weekly during summer. Provide about 2cm of water per week, which is enough to keep the top few inches of soil damp. Sprinkling one tablespoon of an all-purpose fertiliser or liquid manure around each plant provides the necessary nutrients for the year. Dig up and divide the bulbs every three years so the Lily bed doesn’t become crowded, which can reduce flowering.

Photographs provided by Morag Flight

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