Some years ago I let a flower head on a Lilium regale go to seed – I missed it when dead heading. So I sowed the seeds – they filled two seed trays, and came up as thick as grass!
I left them in the seed tray all Summer, poor things!, and only got around to potting them up during the Winter. I put them in 9cm pots, and then in Spring 2014 stood them on some weed suppressing membrane outside the greenhouse. The pots were small, poor things!, and I watered them when I remembered. often enough, but they could have done with more care and attention really.
They had a fair amount of weed growing on them – I’m not recommending this! but at the least it shows what is possible with “some neglect”! – anyway, I loaded up the trolley with the pot-carriers of 9cm square pots. 7 trays, 20 pots each – 140 pots.
I tipped the first one out and separated the small bulbs … I had forgotten that I had put 4-per-pot because I was too lazy to pot them individually. I suspect they would have grown a lot bigger if they had been in deeper pots, and less crowded, but as a bulk-growing exercise its done the job. So it turns out that I now have 140 pots x4 bulbs = 560 bulbs to plant!
I did my best, honestly I did! I’ve been wanting to have Lilies all the way down the Blue & White border for some time. I have a few Lilium regale there (my records say I bought 11 – seems an odd number! perhaps there was discount for 11+) and a couple of blocks of 5 Lilies each (White Heaven and Ice Cube)
It needed a bit of care to separate the little bulbs as, unlike Lily bulbs I have bought which are dormant, dry, and have no roots, the ones in my pots had nice fleshy roots (hopefully that will mean they establish faster / better??) but also had started to shoot – the job could do with doing sooner really, in order to avoid accidentally breaking any shoots.
So now I have topped up my planting with lots more clumps. I also planted 4 clumps (of about 20 each!) in the new Round White Garden. But that still left quite a few …
One of the problems of planting bulbs, like Lilies, at this time of the season is that it is not easy to know what other plants there are (many have not yet made any above-ground growth, particularly other Lily bulbs), and where I thought it might work to plant Lilies amongst other plants remembering how big the other plants get (at the time that Lilies will be in flower …) and its possible that mice? may steal some of the ones I have just planted. So I decided to pot-up the remainder of the Lily bulbs and then, come June when they are in flower, or perhaps a bit earlier when everything is in strong growth, I can plant them out to fill in any gaps or extend clumps.
So I potted up 50!! and that leaves me about another 50 to do. I’m sure I can’t possibly need that many? I’ve used a mixture of Long Tom / Clematis pots (left of picture) and some 2L pots. The 2L seemed large, and will no doubt be harder to plant-out when everything is in full leaf as they will need a large hole – and perhaps the roots will not be sufficient to bind the rootball together, if it falls to bits on planting the bulb will be stressed. Time will tell.
That leaves the bulbs that I scale-propagated back in 2013. At that time I bought 5 bulbs of each of 8 varieties, from H W Hyde – excellent quality Lilies – and I took a couple of scales off each bulb, before planting, and stuck them in some damp Vermiculite in zip-lock bags
A month later and they were ready for potting up. They stayed in 9cm pots for that first summer and then moved to 1L pots for 2014, stood outside. They got seriously eaten by something, towards the end of the season, so I don’t know how well they will have bulked up. The pots have been sat outside all winter 2014/2015, but I need to get them planted soon.
I counted about 80 pots … hopefully only one bulb per pot!! but that will mean I have about 10 bulbs for each of the varieties I planted originally, so I can now squeeze those in around where I planted the 5 bulbs originally, and make the clump three times the size.
Its all cost me nought, of course, apart from a bit of time and a little potting compost. If you want to do the maths its about 640 bulbs, and they tend to cost about £1 each …