Its airy grace and exotic, eye-catching blooms of vivid crimson and bright chrome yellow make the glory-lily (Gloriosa Rothschildiana), the perfect accent for the patio, garden, or greenhouse.
Although important to the florist, who uses the long-lasting blooms for arrangements and corsages, the glory lily can also be grown by the home gardener, indoors as a potted house plant, outdoors in the garden or in the greenhouse, of course.
In the South, the glory lily is left in the garden all year-round, but in the Northern states, even as far north as Massachusetts, it is started in pots indoors and then bedded out for the summer months, after which the tubers are dug and rested until the following year.
Uses of Glory-lily
The twining growth of the glory-lily is well adapted for covering trellises or rough walls or for framing windows.
It may also be used as a pot plant to add a lively splash of color to a corner of the patio or terrace.
When the glory lily is grown in the greenhouse, it is often supported by wire mesh stretched along a side bench or across an end of the house.
Plump Glory-lily Tubers
Unlike most members of the lily family, the glory-lily does not grow from scaly bulbs but from plump, pencil-like tuberous roots.
At the very tip of the tuber is a bud or eye.
If it is not very far developed, it may be hard to find.
This bud or eye must be protected at all times, for if it is broken off, another will not be produced and the tuber will be worthless.
Tubers are generally available from concerns specializing in unusual plants or in bulbs for pots.
They are available in a range of sizes but the largest tubers produce the largest and best-flowering plants.
Those 2” or 3” inches long have little value as blooming tubers but those 6” inches long and ¾” to 1” inch in diameter will produce lots of blooms.
Growing Dormant Tubers Indoors
Dormant tubers may be started into growth indoors in late January or February or they may be planted outdoors in the garden at the same time annuals are being sown.
For an early start, do the following steps:
- Plant the tubers either singly in a 6” inch pot or three in an 8” inch pot.
- Make up a potting mixture that is loose and fertile—adding sand and leaf mold to ordinary garden soil will make a proper potting soil.
- Plant tubers horizontally, about 2” inches deep.
- Keep the soil moist. and after the plants are well along, water more freely.
- For the best growth keep the plants at a night temperature of 60° to 65° degrees Fahrenheit.
If you would like to set the plants out in the garden. you can do this when the soil has warmed thoroughly and all danger of frost is past—usually the latter part of May in the Northern states.
Planting Glory-lilies In Sunny Locations
Glory lilies will grow in either sun or part shade, but the brightest flowers are produced in bright sunny spots.
Since the plants are weakly stemmed, give them some form of support, either by:
- placing them near a wall, column, or trellis
- erecting a teepee-like structure over the plant.
Flowers, often tip to 4” inches across, will be produced during July, August, and September.
During the summer months, when the soil is apt to become dry, the plants should be watered often.
If you are planning to leave the plants in pots, provide some kind of support for them and apply liquid fertilizer regularly until they become dormant in the fall.
The plants will tend to become bushy because the root growth is restricted by the pots.
Caring For Tubers Before The First Frost
When the flowering is over and the foliage begins to fade, do the following:
- Gradually reduce the amount of water, finally withholding it.
- Keep the tubers dry until the following January, when you can start them into growth again.
- Tubers that have been planted out in the garden must be dug up before the first frost. Be especially careful not to break or damage them.
- If any of the tubers are L- or V-shaped, cut them apart at the juncture, thus making two tubers, each with an eye at the tip.
It’s interesting to note that if the L- or V-shaped tuber were left intact, only one eye would develop.
Here are some tips to take into account:
- Store the tubers over the winter in flats of peat moss, sand, or vermiculite.
- The best temperature for storage is 55° to 60°.degrees Fahrenheit.
Planting Glory-lily In The South
If you live in the South, the culture of the glory-lily will be a little different.
Plant the tubers out in the garden in January or February, setting them 4” to 5” inches deep.
Some gardeners prefer to delay planting until the bud swells and the tuber turns pink.
The soil should be well-drained and fertile.
Give the plants plenty of room, for in a couple of years the tubers will have multiplied and grown out in all directions.
A sunny exposure is best but the glory-lily will grow in part shade, too.
The plants will be in flower for about two to two and one-half months.
In the Middle and Lower South, the glory-lily may be left in the ground from one year to the next, but in the more northerly parts either the plants must be protected or the tubers lifted when the tops die down.
Glory-Lily Pests And Diseases
The glory-lily is remarkably free of diseases and insects.
Its only pest is the common aphid, which can be controlled easily with nicotine sulfate.
Planting Glory-lily Tuber In Pots
When I start glory-lily tubers in pots, I prefer to delay planting time until the tubers have become pink and the eye has developed.
I fill the pots with a mixture that I’ve made up earlier, usually consisting of 1 part leaf mold and 2 parts sand, plus some well-rotted manure.
Planting Well-Developed Tubers Over Winter
One winter, when I selected only well-developed tubers, the eyes developed promptly and very rapidly, taking only a week to emerge.
3 weeks later, the plants were 3’ feet high and needed staking.
7 weeks after potting, the plants were in bloom.
They continued to flower for 5 weeks.
Three laterals formed, besides the main stem, and each one produced blooms.
Each tuber produced, on average, 20 blooms.
I watered the soil every day and since the potting soil was loose and well-drained, no excess water was collected on the top of the soil.
To help the plants to develop large tubers for the following year’s bloom, I applied a high potash-phosphorus fertilizer every 3 or 4 weeks.