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How to Grow Asiatic Lilies

I have enjoyed gardening for at least 30 years and enjoy sharing my experience with others. Gardening is my time to meditate and unwind.

Asiatic lilies are some of the most beautiful flowers you can grow.

Asiatic lilies are some of the most beautiful flowers you can grow.

Asiatic lilies are some of the most beautiful flowers you can grow. I love to walk in the garden and see the new blooms, and my garden just wouldn't be complete without them. These are my favorite flowers next to daylilies (which aren’t really lilies at all). Here you will find all the information you need to grow Asiatic lilies.

Once you plant lily bulbs or plants, they will give you pleasure for years to come and multiply and become even more beautiful.

They are grown from a hardy bulb that multiplies quickly and takes little care. They come in many sizes, heights, and shapes. Lilies are called bulbs but are really tubers with fleshy scales that never go into dormancy like other bulbs that you might be familiar with.

Asiatic lilies come in a wide variety of colors

Asiatic lilies come in a wide variety of colors

Choosing the Right Lily Bulbs

The Asiatic bulbs are the first to bloom and they come in a large variety of colors. Different varieties will bloom at slightly different times. Many types are available, but always check that they are hardy in your planting zones. Some lilies aren’t hardy in the North, and some can’t be grown in the Deep South.

Never buy bulbs that have been marked down for clearance in the stores. These are usually completely dried out. Buy good, fresh bulbs. If the bulbs are too dry, they won't even sprout.

Planting the Bulbs

The bulbs can be planted in either spring or fall. In the fall, they can be planted until the soil freezes.

Lilies can be planted in full sun or partial shade in a place that has good drainage. At least six hours of sunlight a day is preferable. A spot where the lilies get morning or late afternoon sun is best. Lilies will thrive in the shade, and I have grown them in shady areas. But you are taking a chance that they may not bloom well there, and the plant is usually shorter. In the shade, they also have a tendency to lean towards the sun. I have several that I need to move to a sunnier area since they are leaning almost to the ground.

The bulbs should be planted as soon as possible because they dry out easily.

Asian Lilies Spread

For a nice-looking stand of lilies, it usually takes three or more tubers.

These will multiply, and eventually, you will have a really nice grouping. Plant them among other flowers that will shade the bulbs.

Check the bag that the lilies were purchased in for planting depth. Something nice to have, but not necessary, is a bulb planter. You just press it into the ground, and it will make a hole at just the right depth.

America Asiatic lily is the closest to purple of any Asiatic you can find. Everyone will tell you there isn't such a thing as a purple, but in the right soil this one is.

America Asiatic lily is the closest to purple of any Asiatic you can find. Everyone will tell you there isn't such a thing as a purple, but in the right soil this one is.

Caring for Asiatic Lilies

Fertilize your plants with a slow-release food in the early spring. Use a fertilizer that is recommended for lilies. Check the back of the bags, and it will tell you how much to apply to each plant.

Lilies need at least 1” of water per week. Try not to get the leaves or flowers wet when watering, since this can cause disease.

Deadhead the flowers as they start dropping their petals, and don’t allow them to go to seed. Leave the green plants until they turn brown, as this helps feed the bulbs.

After the stalks have turned brown, mulch the plants in late fall to help protect them for the winter. This usually isn’t necessary unless you live in a very cold zone, but it will be beneficial to the plant.

This is the Lollipop lily. It is one that is almost everyone's favorite.

This is the Lollipop lily. It is one that is almost everyone's favorite.

Dividing the Bulbs

If your Asiatics start blooming less frequently, it is probably time to divide the bulbs. The bulbs multiply quickly, and the baby bulbs will drain nutrients and water from the main bulbs. Be careful not to slice into your bulbs when digging, though. Now you can use the baby bulbs for new lily plants.

Remove the largest bulbs first, and plant at least three of these together. The tiny bulbs can all be planted in a spot together for storage until they get large enough to display in the garden.

Hybridizing Lilies

My granddaughter and I tried our own hand at hybridizing Asiatics. She was just a little girl at the time, and we had a lot of fun. All you need is to take the pollen from one bloom and dab it into another. You'll have no problem getting the pollen out of the bloom. Lilies have so much pollen that the yellow will get onto your clothing if you aren't careful.

If you want to keep track of which plant you hybridized with another variety, you should place a plastic bag over the bloom when you are finished. This will help bees, wind, or other insects from spreading pollen from another bloom.

You can end up with some new colors and fun blooms. Once the seeds are ripe, you'll need to pick them. Plant them in the garden the next year. The little plants look like spikes of grass. You'll need to mark where they are planted, so you don't accidentally pull them out as weeds.

The plants will take about three years before you'll see blooms. This takes patience.

More Info About Growing Flowers

  • Growing Clematis Vines
    If you have any problems growing these beautiful flowered vines, be sure to read the tips for planting and growing them.
  • How to Grow Oriental Lilies
    If you enjoy Asiatic lilies, you love these beauties just as much. Orientals bloom when the other lilies are finished. Be sure to include them in your garden.

Questions & Answers

Question: Once the petals of Asiatic lilies fall off, do they come back again; or is it just the one bloom?

Answer: Asiatic lilies are ready for the winter when the petals fall off and the plant has turned brown. After that, they won't bloom again until next year.

Question: Do Asiatic lilies bloom all summer?

Answer: A bloom can last two weeks, but more buds will open. No, they don't bloom all summer, but with proper care, you can get them to rebloom at the end of the summer. Remove the stalks of the faded blooms when the bloom dies. Keep all seed pods removed. If your season is long enough, you can get rebloom.

Question: Will

Asiatic Lilies

freeze?

Answer: Many Asiatics are hardy in Zone 3; the bulbs don't go into dormancy like many other bulbs. Even though, they will survive the winter in most zones.

Question: How do I protect a White Sunny Azore Oriental Lily during the winter in Chicago, IL?

Answer: Most Orientals are hardy in your area. I tried to research the variety that you mentioned but came up with nothing. Cover the leaves and check during snow melts that the bulbs haven't been pushed out of the ground.

Question: Something is eating holes in my lily buds. Do you know what it is, and what I can do?

Answer: I can't say for sure without seeing the culprit. It sounds to me like Japanese beetles or lily beetles. The trouble is that it could be many different insects, and all I can do without seeing them is guess.

Question: How do you plant Asiatic lilies?

Answer: Using a bulb planter is the easiest way. If you do not have one, bury them 5 to 6 inches deep.

Question: Do Asiatic lilies attract bees and mosquitoes?

Answer: Asiatics are fragrant and do attract bees, but not mosquitoes.

Question: Can Asiatic lilies be grown in pots?

Answer: Asiatics can be grown in pots, but they should be planted outdoors after blooming. I tried to over-winter them in pots in Zone 5, and the bulbs froze. If you live in a warmer climate, you may be able to keep them in pots, but the bulbs do multiply over time, so you need a big pot if it is a large mature bulb.

Question: I have 3 yellow Asiatic lilies that I had in a pot last year and planted in the ground last fall. This year there are many pretty leaves, and what I thought were flower pods. No flowers have bloomed, the pods just turn yellow and fall off. They are planted in an area where they get about 6 hours sun per day. Any suggestions? I am in zone 8.

Answer: The only answers that I can find is that too wet conditions can cause this. Also animals eating the buds if they are gone. I would think conditions that are too dry could cause this also. I've never had this experience myself.