asiatic lilies in pots - winterizing???

roxanna's picture

i have gone overboard in the purchasing of asiatic and oriental lilies this year, and bloom has begun.  it's glorious!!!  however, these are all planted in large pots for this summer.  my dilemma is what to do with them once the summer season is over. 


obviously, i could dig them into the ground once the bloom is finished.  this is a problem insofar as it will be such a major amount of work (there are fifty -- yep, 50 -- pots), and i would absolutely have to cage them all to prevent critters munching on them over the winter. it's do-able, but i'm not thrilled with the idea. 


does anyone know how to store lily bulbs thru the cold months?  the growers/suppliers of lily bulbs must do something to store them until they sell them to idiots like me.  refrigerate the naked bulbs?  what temp?  or cut off foliage after it dies down and store in the soil-filled pots in a frost-free but cold garage?  would they then need watering?  how often?


any thoughts or advise would be greatly appreciated! 


roxanna (zone 5 central MA)

dtgardengirl's picture

(post #8422, reply #1 of 17)

I am in Zone 5b, Indiana, and I have two plastic troughs planted with an asiatic lily variety.  They are left in place, against a south facing screened porch on mulch and are not shaded in winter.  The do get the benefit of any winter snow or water as there is no overhang.  They've reliably come up every year, for at least 4-5 years. 


Critters don't seem to bother these, though squirrels (I caught on in the act!) destroyed my Stargazers that were planted in the ground.  You do have so many that planting them in the ground does not make sense.  If they are tolerant to your winters, could you cluster the containers in a protected area and heap on some leaves? (over mesh might be good to get the leaves off easily in the spring...?)


If not, you may end up digging and storing them.  I've never done this, but others have, I'm sure.  They will tell you how.  Also, they could tell you if an unheated garage might work - if you have the space.  Sorry, I'm not more helpful, be some can be overwintered in place to no ill effect.  I think my variety is Cote d Azure.  It's been fine and I do nothing special at all except trim the old growth off in the spring.  Benign neglect has worked for me, and I didn't have to do any work.  (Now I'm going to have to change my screen name to the lazygardener!) 


 

roxanna's picture

(post #8422, reply #3 of 17)

gardengirl ~  you can't claim lazygardener as it is my middle name.  benign neglect is such a comforting term, i find, and a philosophy that i adhere to myself! 


thanks for sharing how you keep your potted lilies going over the winter -- i am in the same zone as you are, so it may work for me, too.  i'm going to experiment leaving some outside with leaves for protection (great hint about the screening!) and will put some in the garage as well.  'twill be interesting to see how they fare.


i actually emailed brent and becky's bulbs about this and got a nice reply from becky herself -- according to her, the garage is fine!


~ roxanna

flee's picture

(post #8422, reply #2 of 17)

Roxanna,


I've had three or four pots of lilies that I bought on clearance overwinter the last two years in my "garden nursery" area.  It is next to the house in a little L shaped area and all I do is water everything well (there is usually a bunch of sale or impulse items that never get planted) and pile with lots of leaves.  They have flowered lovely for me, some our flowering now, and even increased in size.  Hope this helps.


Flee~~Zone 5 Mid-Michigan

Flee~~Zone 5 Mid-Michigan

roxanna's picture

(post #8422, reply #4 of 17)

hi, flee ~ long time not hearing from you!  thanks for your tips.  i have a nicely sheltered spot i think will be good to store the potted lilies, now that i think about it.  it will be terrific if i manage to keep them all alive over the winter, as i adore lilies.  however, i must admit that i had planned all along to act as tho they were annuals, needing to be replaced every year.  sounds profligate perhaps, but i found a fabulous site that has prices that make this idea possible.  cost per bulb is not too far off from what i pay for annuals here.  and i'd rather have the impact of the lilies!


if anyone wants lily bulbs that are gigantic and glorious, and cost generally $1 - $1.50 apiece (give or take, and bought in minimums of 25 bulbs of one variety), go to:  woodenshoebulbfarm.com.


as i mentioned, i bought from these folks this spring and was most favorably impressed with the quality of the bulbs.  they offer several sizes of bulb, priced accordingly.  and in the autumn, they will have more varieties listed than they do at this time.  well worth it, especially if you can share the order with friend or two.  i'm going to suggest this to the local garden club...   =)


i'm glad to see that i am not the only gardener on the planet who doesn't manage to plant everything purchased!!  i feel SO much better now.  thanks, flee!


~ roxanna


 


 

flee's picture

(post #8422, reply #5 of 17)

Roxanna,


You're welcome.  I am always lurking around here.  There are never enough hours in a day for me to put a dent in the gardening to do lists.  My problem is I have grand plans and three children and guess who wins!  I'm hoping that with my youngest in school all day this fall I can at least get everything in the ground before the snow flies this year. 


Flee~~Zone 5 Mid-Michigan

Flee~~Zone 5 Mid-Michigan

roxanna's picture

(post #8422, reply #6 of 17)

flee ~ three kids certainly gives YOU a good excuse, but mine are grown, gone and giving me grandchildren.  so i am without any excuses at all, just pure lack of ambition!  wish i could bottle the energy of those grandkids and use it myself.  unfortunately, they are too young yet to be helpers in my gardens, but the minute they can tell a weed from a wanted plant, i will have lots for them to do!


~ roxanna

flee's picture

(post #8422, reply #9 of 17)

"flee ~ three kids certainly gives YOU a good excuse, but mine are grown, gone and giving me grandchildren.  so I am without any excuses at all, just pure lack of ambition!..."


Lack of ambition doesn't make you a bad person!!  My son David worked with me this spring and it was one of the most enjoyable times.  You're just saving the work until the workers mature!! That's good management!!


Flee~~Zone 5 Mid-Michigan

Flee~~Zone 5 Mid-Michigan

roxanna's picture

(post #8422, reply #10 of 17)

 You're just saving the work until the workers mature!! That's good management!!


oh, flee !!  that was priceless!  yep, that's what i'm doing, SAVING the work -- now if i can just convince my husband about that philosophy.... LOL !! 

flee's picture

(post #8422, reply #12 of 17)

You could always try relating it to something that he tends to put off!  


When I find myself with too many bulbs to plant I dig the entire bed down six to eight inches, amend the soil, then do a mass planting.  The last bed was four feet by twelve feet.  I covered the lawn with old blankets and piled the soil there until I was finished.  I believe it took two days but that was working during nap times and around a toddlers schedule. It was much easier than using the bulb planter. That was thirteen years ago and the lilies are still flowering.  If the yarrow wasn't choking them out there probably be more of them!  Let's not call it neglect, let's call it Tough Love for the Garden.


Flee~~Zone 5 Mid-Michigan

Flee~~Zone 5 Mid-Michigan

roxanna's picture

(post #8422, reply #13 of 17)

I dig the entire bed down six to eight inches, amend the soil, then do a mass planting.  The last bed was four feet by twelve feet.


ooooh, flee, just reading that made my back ache!  i, too, have discovered the trench-method of bulb planting, but not on that scale.  'wayyyy beyond the capabilities of THIS 60-year-old body.  it's all i can mamage to dig a 2-foot area and plant several bulbs at once.   great method, tho, and totally beats the individual hole bother. 


i have the feeling that i WILL have to un-pot my lily collection this fall and get them in the ground, argghh, as even in the very large pots i used they seem too crowded when in bloom, sort of a clunky-looking mass and not pleasing to the eye.  great mass of color, tho!  the orientals are just starting and their perfume is fabulous.


 


 

borzoi's picture

(post #8422, reply #7 of 17)

Here, here!  I also can't wait until my younger child starts school full-time this fall.  I could easily spend all that free time in the garden, but I would feel just a bit guilty about not looking for part-time work. :>


Chicagoland Zone 5

Chicagoland Zone5

"Well I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused." D. McManus

flee's picture

(post #8422, reply #8 of 17)

I currently work 22-30 hours every week.  My husband works mostly out of the house, he is the internet tech person for his company, and I only work when he is here to watch the children.  My garden suffers because I put the children and him first! 

Flee~~Zone 5 Mid-Michigan

Flee~~Zone 5 Mid-Michigan

borzoi's picture

(post #8422, reply #11 of 17)

One must have one's priorities in line.  Better a neglected garden than a neglected family -- the garden doesn't complain when you ignore it.  :}

Chicagoland Zone5

"Well I used to be disgusted, now I try to be amused." D. McManus

kmrsy's picture

(post #8422, reply #14 of 17)

As others have mentioned, overwintering the pots shouldn't be a problem.  I don't grow lilies in pots for display, however I do dig lilies in the fall and pot them up for sale the next spring.  I huddle them together against my back wall, pile on the shredded leaves in late November and then remove the leaves in late March.  Then I move the black pots to full sun so the roots will warm up faster then those of lilies in the ground.  By the end of April the lilies are fully up and leafed out with buds.


If you have trouble with rodents, cover the tops of the pots with small-mesh chicken wire before covering with leaves.


_^..^_ Kitty, neIN, Z5
_^..^_ Kitty, neIN, Z5
roxanna's picture

(post #8422, reply #15 of 17)

thanks, kitty, for the reply -- so the consensus is that the pots can be left outside all winter in zone 5, as long as they are somewhat protected (insulated w/leaves) and screened to foil the rodents.  sounds like a plan to me!! 


when you dig and pot up the bulbs in the fall, how deeply do you plant them?  and what about their roots -- do they still have them attached, and do i have to be careful handling them, or will they simply make new ones when they warm up in the spring? 

kmrsy's picture

(post #8422, reply #16 of 17)

There's a nice article about this in the latest issue of Horticulture.  The author says that potted bulbs aren't fussy about depth except for the fact that taller bulbs like lilies need to have their noses at least an inch below to give the emerging stem support.  I usually put a single good sized (16+cm) bulb in a gallon pot, or maybe 3 small ones in a gallon.  One thing to remember about many lilies is that they produce roots both above and below the bulb, from the basal plate as well as along the stem, so placement isn't all that critical, but the amount of space for the roots to grow should be ample.


Digging in fall is the perfect time for lilies.  Usually not a lot of roots to worry about.  Lilies never really go dormant, but they're at rest in fall, October here, after all above-ground parts have died back.  No need to be overly careful, but try not to bruise them.  And best to pot them up soon after digging rather than leaving them sitting around to dry out.  Alternatively, you can package them and store in the fridge over winter and pot up or plant in mid-March, though these may be slower to bloom than fall potted/planted bulbs.


_^..^_ Kitty, neIN, Z5
_^..^_ Kitty, neIN, Z5
roxanna's picture

(post #8422, reply #17 of 17)

more thanks, Kitty -- i can see lots of possiblities ahead of me as well as a lot of work, one way or another.  whatever possessed me to buy 250 lilies???  i must have been mad.....   =)