published Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Five tips for growing lilies

Lilies are now dotting the Chattanooga landscape in beautiful colors: rich yellows, bright oranges and glowing whites.

The flowers come in a variety of forms including trumpet, bowl and funnel shapes, said Tom Stebbins, University of Tennessee Extension agent.

“There are hundreds of species of garden lilies,” Stebbins said, noting that Asiatic, trumpet/Aurelian, Easter and Orientals are the most popular in the Chattanooga area.

“Many plants have ‘lily’ in their common name but are not true lilies,” Stebbins said, explaining that daylilies, water lilies and calla lilies are not lilies in the botanical classification.


1) Lilies like morning sun with afternoon shade. They prefer their blooms in the sun and their roots shaded or nestled among ground covers such as ferns.

2) Lilies grow from thick scaly bulbs. The bulbs are usually planted in autumn, but new storage methods enable companies to ship fresh bulbs in the early spring as well. Ideally, the bulbs are sold with roots attached. Since they are never completely dormant, they should be planted soon after delivery.

3) Plant the bulbs in groups for best impact. Plant in loose, fertile soil. Plant large bulbs (more than 3 inches in diameter) about 5 inches deep. Cover smaller bulbs with only about 3 inches of soil. Space the bulbs about 10 inches apart. Fertilize lilies in the spring and early summer. Use a general balanced fertilizer.

4) When blooming is over, cut off the developing seed pod, but leave the stem and all the leaves. This will replenish the energy in the bulbs for more blossoms next year.

5) Most lilies benefit from dividing every three years. New growth will emerge from the main bulb. Just cut them away to start new plants.

about Karen Nazor Hill...

Feature writer Karen Nazor Hill covers fashion, design, home and gardening, pets, entertainment, human interest features and more. She also is an occasional news reporter and the Town Talk columnist. She previously worked for the Catholic newspaper Tennessee Register and was a reporter at the Chattanooga Free Press from 1985 to 1999, when the newspaper merged with the Chattanooga Times. She won a Society of Professional Journalists Golden Press third-place award in feature writing for ...

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