In many parts of the United States, the lovely, fragrant auratum lily, the gold-band lily of Japan, usually lasts only one year. Why?
The experts claim that this is one of the two finest hardy garden lilies, and the other is Lilium speciosum rubrum.
Other lilies are touchy, such as:
- Lilium speciosum album
- Lilium martagon
- Lilium cernuum
This last mentioned lily is closely allied to Lilium pumilum (tenuifolium), the Siberian coral lily, which ought to be hardy.
Lilium pumilum is said to be short-lived, but that is not so in east central Iowa.
A giant strain grows 5’ feet tall, with flowers in proportion to its height, but the same size bloom as the type, which is about 18” inches tall.
Lilium cernuum is a rosy lilac, fragrant, while the coral lily has a delightfully rich honey-like fragrance.
Using Trace Elements
If you have difficulty with auratum lilies in that they are too brief in their stay with you, there may be a way to keep them longer.
Try the use of trace elements, which are offered in balanced formulations.
These trace elements contain such traces of soil elements as:
- Cobalt and others
Here, auratums of Japanese-grown and British Columbia-grown bulbs formerly lasted only one year.
With trace elements, they are now 3 years old and look very well.
Remarkable Results Of Trace Elements
Trace elements have done remarkable things in many places.
They have changed 10,000 square miles of desert into fertile farmland in Australia.
In Florida, they make grass grow lush, cattle are fat and happy where their every rib could be easily seen, and they are sad-eyed and sick.
In the eastern parts of Oregon and Washington state, a little sulphur was the missing link in the chain.
A few pounds per acre of that yellow mineral made alfalfa grow; without it, alfalfa failed.
Much more could be told of this, even as vitally affecting people. So why not with auratum lilies, which last only one year for some unknown reason.
Yet other requirements should not be neglected.
Lilies On Low Ground
Lilies are not supposed to do well on low ground, but the best lilies I ever had were grown on the ground so low that they had been filled in with cinders.
Over these was a layer of good soil, only about 8” or 10” inches deep. But the lilies loved it and grew twice as tall and with many more flowers than on high, naturally, well-drained soil.
If I were making a lily garden anywhere, I would dig down a couple of feet, fill in a layer of cinders a foot thick and then put a foot of good soil on top.
A job, but worth it in results, I believe. In addition to drainage, when planted in clean soil, lily bulbs must be healthy and disease-free.
Bulbs grown from seeds are claimed to be disease-free if grown in disease-free soil; the seeds do not carry disease infections.
Care In Planting
Lily bulbs may be infected with a disease. Therefore, it is a good plan to soak the bulbs just before planting to control and even kill Collectotrichum Lili, a black or brown scale disease known as Bermuda lily disease.
It is not very serious in the North, where there is cold weather to hold it in check. However, it nearly destroyed the important Easter lily industry in one area.
It is also serious in Florida, Louisiana, and the South as a whole.
Another good practice is to dust lily bulbs just before planting with a fungicide.
Some of this can also be worked into the soil where the bulbs are planted.
Auratums should not be planted too deep. Instead, 5” inches from the top of the bulb to the surface of the soil is deep enough.
And with small bulbs, less than that depth.
A little sulphur is applied dry with a duster, or in liquid form, according to directions on the package or container.
For spraying lilies, a copper-based spray is the best I have found.
It should be applied several times a season, especially on the more “fussy” lilies, such as auratums, speciosums, and others.
Most lilies do not require it, such as:
- Lilium regale
- Lilium umbellalum
- Lilium tigrinum
- Lilium henryi and other kinds
But spraying does not harm. I have not found Bordeaux spray effective as a spray for lilies.
Mulching the Plants
One more practice helps with lilies–mulching– with leaves, lawn clippings, or coarse-ground corn cobs; if applied thick enough, weeds are kept, clown.
The soil is kept cool and moist, and the work of earthworms is encouraged.
In sum, I may say that more hardiness, vigor, and disease resistance are being developed in lilies by using such kinds as Lilium tigrinum and Lilium umbellalum in breeding new varieties.