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How to Propagate Tiger Lilies From Bulbils

Rachel is a passionate plantsperson, YouTuber and author living in Ireland. She grows a wide range of hardy subtropical and tropical plants.

Tiger lilies are easy and fun to propagate from bulbils. Here's how!

Tiger lilies are easy and fun to propagate from bulbils. Here's how!

The tiger lily (Lilium lancifolium, also known as L. tigrinum) is a beauty for late color in the garden, with its orange blooms and elegant recurved petals. In my opinion, a garden can never have enough of them! Luckily, they're very easy to propagate.

Tiger lily bulbils growing from leaf axils along the stem.

Tiger lily bulbils growing from leaf axils along the stem.

How to Propagate Bulbils From a Tiger Lily

Whilst still in flower, the tiger lily produces small bulbils on its stems from late summer to autumn. These tiny embryo bulbs will grow into mature bulbs if collected and sown.

  1. Harvest your bulbs when they're mature, usually around September. They'll come away easily when mature and you may see tiny roots at their base.
  2. As tiger lilies prefer acidic soil, use an ericaceous compost mixed with horticultural sand and fill your trays. (You can also use pots, if you prefer.)
  3. Place your tray in water until the soil is wet through.
  4. Remove tray from water and allow briefly to drain.
  5. Sow your bulbils like seed in the tray (about 1 inch apart or in separate cells, as I demonstrate in the video above).
  6. If your bulbil has roots, place the roots facing down into the compost. But if it's altogether unclear as to which way is the right way up, here's a little tip for you—with all bulbs, it's never wrong to lie them on their sides. If you lie them on their sides, they'll sort themselves out eventually!
  7. Cover trays with a layer of vermiculite.
  8. Press your bulbils down slightly to make sure that they're in intimate contact with the mix.
  9. Cover the tray.
  10. Place the tray or pot in a cold frame or greenhouse out of direct sun and keep just moist. Bulbils will germinate within a couple of weeks. But if they don't, don't discard them, they may appear next spring.
  11. Fertilize established seedlings with a low-nitrogen fertilizer to help bulk them up.
  12. Once the roots are poking out from the bottom of the tray or pot, carefully transplant each seedling into its own individual pot to grow on.

Bulbils will take two to three years to flower from sowing, but it's worth it! So have patience, and happy growing!

What could be more elegant than a tiger lily in bloom?

What could be more elegant than a tiger lily in bloom?

More Propagation Inspiration!

© 2021 Rachel Darlington

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