Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Harvest time : What lurks under the soil?

Harvested Lilium Bulbs
Fall is the time to move and replant lily bulbs. When the green leaves have turned brown, the plant has completed growing the bulb for next year’s bloom. When lily plantings are crowded with many stems they need to be divided. Improve your lilies’ growing conditions by giving them more room to grow.

It can be fun to see what’s going on under the soil! Hardy fast growing lilies reproduce by growing bulblets off the main bulb. That’s like money in your pocket--you’ve got free lilies! Some lilies produce bulblets right away, the first year they are in the ground. Ones that I’ve had great success with are: 'August Ruby', 'Tiger Babies', and 'Robinson’s Comet', all Asiatics.

Oriental Trumpet hybrids (called “OT’s”) with fast bulblet increase are 'Scheherazade',  'Black Beauty' and a recent introduction, 'Flashpoint'. These are slower but still reliable at producing bulblets: 'Silk Road', 'Boogie Woogie' and 'Touch'.

Mother Lilium BulbDiscovering the size of a mother bulb underground can be a big surprise. Bulbs that are 2” in diameter grow, in just a few years, to be 5” and more!  These monster bulbs produce flower stalks that are 7” tall, sometimes growing up to 9 feet. They hold 20 or more blooms. Some of these large bulbs “split” or grow into a divided bulb with 2 or 3 “noses.”  The divided bulbs are ready to separate and be replanted into a bigger space.  However, some fully mature lily bulbs don’t like being disturbed.  I’ve had the sad experience of seeing a large mother bulb disintegrate after being moved. I’ve also see a once grand plant protest its move and come up smaller for several years after a move. 

Generally, however, lily plants need to be divided for optimum health. Here are tips for re-planting:

•    Dig and loosen the soil around the planting hole
•    Add compost to the hole
•    Add granular fertilizer
•    Plant lilies 2’ – 3’ apart
•    Water in thoroughly to settle the dirt around the bulb

You will be rewarded with strong lilies next year.

--By Kim Peterson

Thursday, September 13, 2012

The Magnificent Oriental Trumpets

The last group of lilies to bloom, those of Oriental and Trumpet parentage, are the loveliest. Hybrid crosses like this inherit the best traits from both types of lilies. Orientals give fabulous fragrance and a range of beautiful color to their offspring. Trumpets give the ability to withstand hot St. Louis summers and add height. These “OT” hybrids are wonderful for St. Louis gardens.

Most OT lilies are tall, growing from 4’ to 8’, so plant them in back of your garden or make them a focal point. Some OT lilies that thrive in this area are Silk Road, a red and white stunner that grows to be 6 feet tall. Two classic OT lilies, Black Beauty and Scheherazade, are among the last OTs to bloom. They both grow to be 7 ‘ tall. Robina is a deep lavender pink with huge flowers and strong scent--this lily always attracts attention! For bright color try Pizzazz or Red Dutch, both lilies that mix a strong yellow on petals with a red center.

OT lilies planted in rich, loose soil that get good nutrients and water will reward gardeners with bulb increase. One established plant will produce 2 to 6 bulblets each year, miniature plants that grow around the base of the mother plant. When these small plants get to be 2’ or so, lift them and separate, giving them their own space to grow tall.

--By Kim Peterson

The pictures below depict some of the Oriental Trumpets found blooming in member gardens this summer;
'Flashpoint' Lilium
'Flashpoint' Lilium

'Time Zone' Lilium
'Time Zone' Lilium

'Robina' Lilium
'Robina' Lilium

'Majesty' Lilium
'Majesty' Lilium

'Silk Road' Lilium
'Silk Road' Lilium

Friday, July 20, 2012

MARLS Celebrates 30th Anniversary

Fred & Jean Winterowd,
Founding Members

The Mid America Regional Lily Society celebrated their 30th anniversary on a warm summer day at our annual Lilium Mini Show.  This year we were blessed to hold this event at the Peterson’s residence.  As we all toured Kim’s Lily garden and Roy’s vegetable and fruit garden we were in awe of these wonderful horticultural surroundings.  The Peterson’s purchased their city lots over 20 years ago, and have turned their house and gardens into an oasis in the city. 

Everyone brought delightful food for our buffet and beautiful Lilium stems from their gardens for a small Lilium Show at our annual summer event.   Our Accredited and Student judges gave their opinions and critiques for each of the Lilium on display.   No official prizes were given at this event, just the reward of getting together to discuss the different aspects of each of the Lilium on display, and practicing our Lily Show judging.

During our annual meeting at the Lilium Mini Show, both Jean and Fred reminisced about the beginning of the Mid America Regional Lily Society.  Here are some of their thoughts on ‘The Making of a Regional’;

As both Jean and Fred toured the brightly-colored fields of Oregon Bulb Farm, they were met by several fellow members of the Regionals.  They noted our Missouri Badges…and, in an instance, they happily recommended that we form a Missouri Regional!

They promised to help us get organized, and that they did!  Among the most prominent helpers were: Dorothy Schaefer (Iowa), Julius Wadekamper (North Star), along with Hugh & Ruth Coker, Mike Heger, and others.  We were ‘On Our Way’!

Fred & Jean recruited mostly friends for our founding members.  As Charter Members…we/they began life-long friendships that continue to this day.  Here’s to 30 more…as we all HAIL LILIUM!

As our Lilum Mini Show events were winding down, a group of Lily Enthusiasts on tour from Kansas City, stopped by to enjoy the Peterson’s garden and share some wonderful 30th anniversary cake with us.  We will do our best to mentor their enthusiasm and perhaps they will be interested in forming another Regional in the Midwest.

--By Lynn Slackman and Fred Winterowd

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Delightful Asiatics

Asiatic Lilium are by far one of the most popular lilies available to the general public.  Until a few years ago, when I was enlightened with additional knowledge about lilies, I was always delighted to see Asiatic lilies blooming each summer.  When I moved back to Illinois twelve years ago, I made sure to plant some Asiatic Lilies in my new garden.  More than once I had lily pollen stuck to my nose after trying to smell lilies in the cut flower section of the grocery store. 

Asiatic lilies are among the easiest to grow and readily available lilies. They're very hardy, need no staking, and are not particularly fussy about soil, as long as it drains well.  Well-drained soil is an absolute must.  If you have clay soil, add lots of organic matter to create a raised area with improved drainage.  Also add organic matter into light, sandy soil to help hold onto nutrients and prevent it from drying too rapidly.  They grow best in full sunlight, and they need six to eight hours of direct sunlight in order to bloom well. They usually grow taller and floppier in reduced light.

When choosing lilies, consider plant height and bloom season as well as flower color. Make a point to visit public gardens such as the Missouri Botanical Garden, where plants are labeled with their cultivar names.  You can also contact someone at the Mid America Lily Society for help choosing lilies or attend one of our annual lily bulb sales.

The North American Lily Society horticultural classification for the Asiatic Hybrid is Division I.  These classifications are usually based upon the shape of the flower, the way they are placed on the inflorescence, and other characteristics.  Asiatic lilium can have Up-facing, Outfacing or Pendant flowers.  An example for each flower characteristic is shown in the following photos;

'Retro  Pink' Asiatic Lilium
'Retro Pink' Up-facing Asiatic Lilium

'Red Velvet' Asiatic Lilium
'Red Velvet' Outfacing Asiatic Lilium

'Tiger Babies' Asiatic Lilium
'Tiger Babies' Pendant Asiatic Lilium

Lily bulbs may be planted in spring or in the autumn, usually from mid-September through mid-October. If you have hardy lilies growing in containers, you may consider adding them to your garden throughout the growing season. When buying lily bulbs, select firm, plump bulbs with roots attached. You need to plant the bulbs as soon as possible, as lily bulbs never go completely dormant so they must not dry out before planting.

I would suggest planting lilies in groups of three or five identical bulbs. Depending upon size of the bulb, space them about eight to ten inches apart, keeping your groups about three feet apart. Plant small lily bulbs two to four inches deep and large bulbs four to six inches deep, measuring from the top of the bulb. You should divide and replant large clusters of bulbs every three to four years – or when it seems they are not blooming as well.

Before winter, mulch over newly planted bulbs with four to six inches of loose leaves or wood chips. This delays soil freezing and allows roots to continue growing longer. Mulch also insulates the soil against fluctuating temperatures, delaying the emergence of frost-tender shoots in spring.

When spring arrives, leave your mulch in place until the danger of hard frost has passed.  If your lilies start to grow through the mulch, remove it gradually – but leave it nearby so you can cover them if another hard frost arrives.  Fertilize the soil each spring with a phosphorus-rich formula such as 5–10–10. Slow-release fertilizers also work well. But…always follow label instructions when applying fertilizer.

Deadhead flowers as they fade by breaking them off carefully, that way none of the plant's energy is “wasted” on seed production. Do not remove stems or foliage. They'll continue to put energy into the bulb as long as they remain green. Remove old foliage in late autumn or early spring by cutting down the dead stalks.

I hope you enjoy the delightful Asiatic lilies as they add color and accent to your garden each summer.

--By Lynn Slackman

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Look at the Umbel on that Lily!

'L. Regale'
L. Regale
Lilium Regale is a trumpet flowered lily, whose flowers form a 'highly scented' umbel at the top of its 4 to 5 foot sturdy stems. Of course the height of the stems and the number of flowers depends on the amount of humus and fertility in your soil. The Regale Lilum was the first species Lilium I included in my garden.  With very little care, it's been a hardy addition that provides a sweet smell and has an elegant appearance.

This cultivar is classified as a Species Lilium, as it was discovered by Ernest Henry Wilson during 1903 in west Szechuan, along the Min River, in China. He revisited the site in 1908 to collect more bulbs, but most of them rotted while en route back to the Arnold Arboretum in Boston. In 1910 he returned to the Min valley, but this time his leg was crushed during an avalanche of boulders as he was carried along the trail in his sedan chair. After setting his leg with the tripod of his camera, it took him three days to make it back to civilization. Thereafter he walked with what he called his "lily limp". It was this third shipment of bulbs that successfully introduced the Regale Lily into cultivation in the United States.

Sometimes species lilies can be temperamental and slow to adapt to conditions outside of their native environment.  But the Regale Lily has adapted to our growing conditions, is readily available from bulb growers, and tends to provide a nice show of blooms each year.

Try growing an Heirloom Lily in your garden!

--By Lynn Slackman

Friday, June 1, 2012

Spotted a Leopard at the Garden this week…

'L. pardalinum'
While poking around the bulb garden at the Missouri Botanical Garden this week, my new horticultural friend Sophia, pointed out the Leopard Lily blooming near the Magnolia grove.  Many of you know this lily as ‘L. pardalinum’, one of the only native California lilies that grow outside of its native environment and just about anywhere it’s not too hot.  As you can see from the pictures in this posting, it has bright orange-red petals that are splashed with golden leopard spots.  Its leaves form a whorl around each stem…similar to the Martagon and American Hybrid lilies.  They were actually brought into gardens during the era of the California gold rush of 1848 to 1855.

Lilium pardalinum can reach heights of 6 feet and they are hardy to zone 5. They usually flower in July, with seeds ripening from August to September. But this year…our early spring has produced an early flowering of late May at the botanical garden.  The flowers are hermaphrodite, having both male and female organs, and are pollinated by bees, butterflies, and sometimes horticulturists.

L. pardalinum
This lily succeeds in almost any soil that is moist but not water-logged.  They prefer a wet soil on a slope or a well-drained soil with a high water table.  They also tolerate lime. They do like full sun to dappled shade, but rapidly deteriorate if grown in deep shade. They are also fairly wind resistant but do better grown in a sheltered environment. ..preferring a woodland garden with a sunny edge.

This plant is rhizomatous, and forms clumps.  They increase rapidly by division, for example; each bulb may produce 5 new bulbs per year.  Early to mid autumn is the best time to plant out the bulbs in cool temperate areas, in warmer areas they can be planted out during late autumn.  The plant should be protected against rabbits and slugs in early spring.  If the shoot tips are eaten out the bulb will not grow in that year and will lose vigor. This lily is also a very variable plant; it is divided into a number of sub-species.

If you happen to visit the Missouri Botanical Garden during the first week of June this year, look for the Leopard Lily in the bulb garden.  It’s truly a sight to behold!

--By Lynn Slackman

Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Graceful Martagons

The specific term Martagon is a Turkish word which also means turban or cap. The name Turk's cap lily, which also applies to a number of other species, comes from the characteristic reflexed shape of the petals on their flowers. The Lilium martagon is a species of lily.  It has a widespread native region extending from eastern France east through northern Asia to Mongolia and Korea.

'L. hansonii' Lilium at Missouri Botanical Garden
L. hansonii Lilium
Martagons have been cultivated for centuries. John Gerard, author of the famous Elizabethan “Herbal,” mentions them in his 1596 list of plants growing in his garden.  In Uppsala, Sweden, martagons bloom under ancient trees in the garden of 18th century naturalist Carl Linnaeus, a famous botanist that devised the system we still use today for naming living things.

Lilium martagon was used in hybridizing with L. hansonii at the end of the 19th century by Mrs. RO Backhouse of Hereford, England. Their glossy foliage rise in whorls along sturdy stems and add a distinctive shape to the garden while you wait for the flowers. One stem may carry dozens of downward facing “Turk’s Cap” type flowers.  They self-seed and, unlike many lilies that fade away after a few years, martagons can outlive the gardener who plants them.

Martagons do not have the large showy blooms like Trumpets, Aurelian’s, and Oriental hybrids, nor their intense scent. Some people even claim that martagons have an unpleasant scent; they have a light ‘wild flower’ scent.  I have noticed that they have a subtle sophistication that their dramatic relatives lack.  A slight breeze will start them dancing rather than falling over. They also have the advantage of fitting into the larger garden design, unlike the big, flashy hybrids which demand to be noticed.

'Terrace City' Martagon
'Terrace City' Martagon,
photo provided by Chuck Robinson
Horticulturally the species martagon is part of the Division 9 classification, but the hybrids and cultivars derived from these species are part of Division 2 - Martagon Hybrids classification.  They have stem-rooting and they are 4 to 5 feet tall. They also have a wide range of flower colors; pinks, mauves, scarlet and wine reds as well as white, yellow and orange.  The flowers are usually lightly scented, and numerous flowers are borne on each plant...between 40 to 60 flowers can be found on vigorous plants.

Martagon lilies are very cold hardy and flourish as far north as the Arctic Circle!  These rare forgotten jewels are under-used and may be hard to find, but our friends at B&D Lilies have a nice selection of Martagon Species as well as their hybrids.
In the St Louis region there can be many challenges when growing Martagon’s.  Due to our hot and humid summer weather you will probably need to grow them under dappled shade conditions.  They also like soil that is amended with lime every year.

Chuck Robinson, our Lily friend from Kansas City, who provided the gorgeous photograph of 'Terrace City' above and the other photographs below, shares some of his experience with Martagons in the Midwest; "I have had them for a few years. I am still learning. They require good drainage and strategic watering, which means while they are active. Of course, it is easy to water them when you are anticipating the flowers and while they are in flower. Diligence is required to keep them well watered after the flowers have gone. On the flip side, if your garden is well irrigated, that can be a problem too."

'Claude Shride' Martagon
'Claude Shride' Martagon
Orange blooming Martagon
An Orange blooming Martagon

White blooming Martagon
A White blooming Martagon

'Pink Taurade' Martagon
'Pink Taurade' Martagon

What are your experiences with Martagon Lilies?  

Are you willing to try something new in your garden that has been grown for centuries?

--By Lynn Slackman

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

True Lilies vs Daylilies

During February of 2012 members of the Mid America Regional Lily Society had the opportunity to enter an Educational Display at the St. Louis Builders Home & Garden Show.  This show is one of the largest quality consumer home shows in North America. More than 500 exhibitors and 1,800 booths filled the America's Center and Edward Jones Dome in downtown St. Louis.  It's been in existence for more than 30 years and is the place for consumers to see, compare and buy everything they need for their homes and gardens.

The annual flower show at this event is sponsored by National Garden Clubs, Inc. which is recognized as the largest volunteer gardening organization in the world.  Our educational display received a blue ribbon and remained on display throughout the St. Louis Builders Home & Garden Show.

The big question is "What is a Lily?"  Since daylilies are very popular in our gardens, we thought it would be a good theme for our educational display to compare "True Lilies vs Daylilies".  We hope that the following chart, from our educational display, can offer some assistance with this dilemma.













--By Pam Hardy

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Annual Spring Lilium Bulb Sale

The annual Mid America Regional Lily Society spring bulb sale is next weekend!   This is chance to add some gorgeous lilies to your garden for some large accent blooms this summer.  Liliums are easy to grow, and will return blooms each year, if planted and cared for properly.  Make sure you plant them in well-drained soil that is not remaining overly wet.  They also like cool feet and warm heads, so mulch the base of the plant and plant it somewhere that receives at least 4-6 hours of sun each day.  You should also promptly plant your lily bulbs.  These are LIVE bulbs that need to be planted as soon as possible.  Cover the bulbs with 3-4 inches of soil for smaller bulbs and 4-6 inches for larger bulbs.  One last tip…as soon as the bulbs are planted WATER THEM!

We have a wonderful selection of up-facing, down-facing and side-facing Asiatic Lilium with lots of vibrant colors.  Don’t miss out on the ‘Royal Sunset’ LA Hybrid…this is a MUST for your garden!  The blooms are very colorful, and look just like the picture on the MARLS web site.  If you don’t have a lot of space then the Pot–Borders do great in pots and add some extra color to your patio.  Another MUST, for that extraordinary lilium fragrance, try the Oriental or Species bulbs we have available.  You will be rewarded with that wonderful lily floral fragrance.  Last…but certainly not least…don’t forget the large OT Hybrid or Trumpets.  Whether you have a small or large garden these tall Liliums can certainly add both fragrance and extraordinary accent to your garden.

Take a look at our selection of bulbs on our Bulb Sale Selection pages, and join us on Saturday and Sunday, April 21st – 22nd at the Missouri Botanical Garden, to select some Liliums for your garden.  We will have ‘Starter’ bulb bags available for those who just need a few bulbs to get started. Hope we see you there!

Monday, February 13, 2012

Book Review - "Heirloom Bulbs for Today"

Chris Wiesinger, “The Bulb Hunter” has teamed-up with landscape designer and award winning author Cherie Foster Colburn to produce an innovative view of Heirloom Bulbs.  Most garden books and magazines tell you about the culture of plants, but this book takes it a step further to reveal not only the bulb’s past, but the people who grew and nurtured it.

I also found wonderful botanical illustrations by South African artists Loela Barry & Johan Kritzinger and loads of photographs to depict the cultivars and the Historic places they can be found.  The Historic homes, gardens, and cemeteries highlighted throughout the book really takes the reader on a bulb hunt across the Southern region of the U.S.

To my surprise, at the very end of the book, Cherie and Loela have designed a sample garden layout that features the bulbs referenced throughout the book.  They have also included perennial companion plants for their low-maintenance garden.  Loela’s illustrations of their sample garden depict its progress thru the seasons of the year.

I really enjoyed reading this book and will use it as a future reference for Heirloom Bulbs. To read and learn more about heirloom bulbs and how Chris has rescued bulbs to put them back into America's gardens, please visit The Southern Bulb Company website.

--By Lynn Slackman

Friday, February 3, 2012

Tribute to Linda Smith from MARLS

In Memory of Linda K. Smith

What a splendid wife, mother, and grandmother. She and husband, Ray, were real “Teammates”! They shared their love of family, friends, and the community. Most especially with their children and grandchildren. Oh…and did I mention LILIES? (Most certainly!)

Linda was a prize student of horticulture at East Central College. From these studies, she became a teacher. Once more a rich fulfillment was to be realized.

All along the way, Linda was most proficient in her growing of award-winning lilies. Out of this love she became a judge and president of the Mid America Regional Lily Society. In time, she was elected to the NALS Board…later to its presidency.

With her term completed, she accepted Chair of the Judges Accreditation Committee. Husband Ray always at her side, assuring his support!

Though failing in health, she kept up her valiant spirit. Touching many lives, Linda made this truly a better world. Sadly gone from our midst now….our memories remain. How warm and comforting they will always be.

Linda Smith…so fondly remembered.
---Fred Winterowd

Tribute to Harold Schrei from MARLS

The Mid America Regional Lily Society extends our deepest sympathy to the family of Harold (Hal) Schrei. Hal passed away on August 11th, 2010 at the age of 94 years old. Hal leaves his wife Dorothy and two sons Bob and Dick.

Hal and his wife Dorothy were very valuable members of the Mid America Regional Lily Society. Some of Hal’s supportive work is listed below;

Charter member of MARLS,
First Treasurer of MARLS,
Past president of MARLS,
MARLS Board Member,
NALS Board Member,
Official photographer for MARLS,
Lily Show Chairman,
NALS Accredited Judge

Hal entered many prize lilies in our shows, and was a consistent winner. He has opened their garden for tours and presented slide shows to many garden clubs and other interested groups. He made all aware of the ease of growing lilies and incorporating them into the garden. Hal’s wife Dorothy was the MARLS treasurer for eight years and handled the extra duties involved with the MARLS sponsored NALS shows in St Louis.

MARLS members will remember Hal as a very reliable MARLS supporter who was very dependable, very organized and very much a leader.