Oriental Lilies ‘Stargazer’ container planting

Planting oriental lilies in pots and containers

My Dad adored lilies and this year I decided to plant up some new containers, with a sense of ‘in his honour’. Our local garden centre had bags of bulbs and I bought a jumbo pack of Lilium orientalis ‘Stargazer’ and one of mixed colours. I love ‘Stargazer’ because it is so heavily scented, as are all the oriental lilies.

Oriental Lily in containers

My research suggested John Innes No. 2 or No. 3, as part of a good compost mix for lilies, but our local stores had none. This particular day I wanted to get on with the job and did not choose to drive further afield, instead I decided to use some good garden soil from the vegetable patch. I could have sterilized it in trays in the oven, but decided to risk the consequences of using it straight from the garden (the risks being bugs, diseases and weed seeds!).

So, into my wheelbarrow went the soil

Oriental Lily in containers

Followed by about an equal quantity of peat free multi-purpose compost

Oriental Lily in containers

Mixed with forkOriental Lily in containers

Also added some pelleted chicken manure – lilies are hungry feeders.

Oriental lily in containers

When I visited the local DIY store, looking for the John Innes compost, I discovered some tall terracotta pots on offer – perfect for lilies

oriental lily in containers

Lilies need good drainage, otherwise the bulbs will rot, so having washed some broken bits of old tiles and pots,

oriental lily in containers

and covered the drainage holes

oriental lily in containers

I then added some 2-3 cm of gravel that had been left over from the new drive. I could have used pea shingle, or horticultural grit.

Oriental Lily in containers

followed by a few centimetres of compost, leaving at least 15cm between the compost and the top of the pot.

oriental Lily in containers

Having unpacked the ‘Stargazer’ bulbs I noticed that some of the roots were a bit brown and shriveled, so clipped the worst out with some secateurs.

Oriental Lily in containers

Before clipping

Oriental Lily in containers

After clipping

Next I bedded the bulbs into the compost. As an experiment I planted some pots with 3 bulbs, which is more crowded than recommended, and some with a single bulb. I just did not have enough pots to achieve the recommended spacing.

Oriental Lily in containers

Three in a pot, allowing room for 15cm of compost above the top of the bulb.

oriental lily in containers

Single bulb

I then filled the pots, loosely, to the brim with compost and watered well, to settle the mix.

oriental Lily in containers

Oriental Lily in containers

Labelled and watered.

Next came the packet of mixed colours, but to my huge disappointment, I discovered these bulbs were severely rotten, and virtually disintegrated when I picked them up.

Oriental Lily in containers

So that was the end of lily planting for the day. Two days later I took the infected bulbs back to the garden centre, along with the receipt, and they refunded the cost without question, which was great.

 

Having learned how important it is to inspect, as best one can, the packets before buying, I did my best to shake off the compost or sawdust in the packs so that I could see the bulbs.

Oriental Lily in containers

These looked a lot better when I got them home and was able to open the bag,

Oriental Lily in containers

and were planted, 3 in one larger container and 2 singles.

Oriental Lily in containers

Now the wait begins. I shall be keeping a careful eye out for lily beetle, which can devastate whole plants – I’ll keep you posted on progress.