Planting lilies in containers
Gardener, blogger and allotmenteer Bryony Willis, shows you how to grow lilies in containers for a stunning summer display.
Preparing the container
Place a 5cm (2in) layer of drainage material, such as crocks or small stones, in the base of clay pots before beginning to fill with potting compost. Plastic containers may not need this ‘crocking’ if their drainage holes are raised off the bottom of the container.
Plant single large bulbs (10-12cm (4-5in) diameter) into 20-23cm (8-9in) diameter containers, or plant three to four smaller bulbs (5-8cm (2-3in) diameter) into 23-25cm (9-10in) diameter containers. Allow 5cm (2in) between bulbs and use only deep containers.
Some lilies, such as the Asiatic hybrids, root from the base of the bulb only. Others, including L. formosanum, L. lancifolium and L. longiflorum, produce roots not just from the base of the bulb but also from the stem just above the bulb – these lilies may need a deeper container.
Plant basal-rooting lilies (or those whose habit is unknown) at a depth equal to the height of the bulb. Plant stem-rooting lilies at a depth roughly two-and-a-half times the height of the bulb.
The bulbs should be planted with their basal plate (which has hair-like roots hanging down from it) facing downwards, and the pointed tip of the bulb scales pointing upwards.
Although any good multipurpose compost is suitable, soil-based John Innes composts are easier to manage in terms of watering and feeding. John Innes No 3 is recommended for most lilies. If it appears too dense, add 20 per cent by volume each of horticultural grit and ericaceous soil-less compost or leaf mould.
Some lilies are lime-haters (e.g. L. auratum and L. speciosum), and should be potted into pure ericaceous compost. John Innes ericaceous compost is recommended.
Lilies are heavy feeders, so add granules of a controlled-release fertiliser when planting.