“I’ll show you how to grow tow­er­ing tree lilies,” says Anne

Are you look­ing for some easy ways to en­joy these tow­er­ing trum­pets? Anne Swith­in­bank ex­plains how you can raise your ex­pec­ta­tions

Amateur Gardening - - Contents -

There are cer­tain plants that rise up to de­light ev­ery­one with their mo­ment of glory, be­fore they fade gen­tly into the back­ground. The eas­i­est of these are tree lilies, whose bulbs slot read­ily amongst ex­ist­ing plants, even in an al­ready packed bor­der.

As long as there is good soil be­neath and no com­pe­ti­tion from nearby trees and shrubs, the bulbs will an­chor them­selves deeply, draw­ing wa­ter and nour­ish­ment from be­low the roots of most herba­ceous peren­ni­als.

Strong stems push up­wards un­til, by mid to late sum­mer, el­e­gant flower buds burst to re­veal fra­grant blooms. There are plenty of cul­ti­vars to choose from, in­clud­ing those with no pollen. While dark an­thers pro­vide hand­some fin­ish­ing touches to a lily flower, their pollen is poi­sonous to cats and can stain cloth­ing.

These long-last­ing lilies re­turn well ev­ery year, gain­ing in height and strength un­til the stems reach 8ft (2½m). Lily bee­tles will have a chomp at them, but seem to pre­fer softer, weaker lilies. The bright red bugs and their grubby lar­vae are best picked off reg­u­larly to re­duce the num­ber of adults over­win­ter­ing in soil.

Tree lilies have been bred from ori­en­tal types, them­selves orig­i­nat­ing from Asian species such as L. au­ra­tum and L. specio­sum. For suc­cess­ful cul­ti­va­tion, imag­ine their nat­u­ral habi­tat – usu­ally light wood­land, where roots are com­fort­ably shaded and flower buds open in sun­light. This is why in full sun, the bulbs are best cooled by the fo­liage of other plants and ben­e­fit from deep plant­ing. Still, these lilies are happy to grow in con­tain­ers, where good com­post and reg­u­lar wa­ter­ing meet their needs.

hav­ing suc­ceeded with lilies, why not chal­lenge your skills by try­ing other plants from bulbs or rest­ing bod­ies? Some of these are de­scribed as ‘dif­fi­cult’, but this just means con­cen­trat­ing harder on repli­cat­ing their habi­tat in ex­change for the re­ward of their amaz­ing blooms.

Tree lilies are great for bring­ing height and colour to a mixed bor­der in late sum­mer. Even without ex­tra feed­ing or wa­ter­ing, my tree lilies flow­ered well from the start, reach­ing greater heights year on year

Lil­ium ‘Star­burst’ and ‘Pink Ex­plo­sion’ from Thomp­son & Mor­gan can grow around 8ft (2½m) tall in two years

Lil­ium au­ra­tum ‘Gold Band’

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