Sun lovers prove to be real lit­tle troop­ers

Yorkshire Post - YP Magazine - - Gardens -

WHY pixie lilies? Why not dwarf lilies? No, prob­a­bly a bit too com­mon th­ese days when there are so many dwarf forms.

Elf lilies? No, a bit like an East End at­tempt to make them sound ben­e­fi­cial.

Hob­bit lilies? Def­i­nitely not – a bit hairy around the edges and prone to at­tract prob­lems with orcs and other nas­ties.

So, it’s pixie lilies. Pixie lilies for pots on pa­tios and sunny spots where they can do what they like do­ing best – bloom­ing in the heat of sum­mer.

That means they should find it dif­fi­cult to grow in Bri­tain, but the op­po­site is, in fact, the case. They seem to thrive in our cli­mate where their short stems, small leaves and wide, im­pres­sive blooms look mag­nif­i­cent.

As long as they get what­ever sun is on of­fer, and as long as the gar­den­ers en­sures that their roots are kept moist (not wa­ter­logged), then they can trans­form a drab spot be­cause th­ese truly are won­der­fully colour­ful plants.

Like so many things, pixie lilies started life in the United States, where hy­bridiser Ed­ward McRae (Ore­gon Bulb Farm’s head hy­bridiser at the time) pi­o­neered the in­tro­duc­tion of a shorter ver­sion of the Asi­atic hy­brid lily, which was ideal for con­tain­ers but which could also hold its own in the mid­dle of a bed or bor­der.

Plant­ing is sim­ple – find you con­tainer, put some crocks or gravel at the bot­tom to help drainage and then fill up with a de­cent com­post. Place your pixie lily bulbs (pointed end up) in small groups about three inches deep. Water well.

Bring con­tainer­ised pixie lilies in­doors dur­ing the worst of win­ter. Place the pot where the night­time tem­per­a­tures will be cool, be­tween 55 and 60F. Keep the soil slightly moist.

Fer­tilise pixie lilies ev­ery spring with a slow-re­lease, gran­u­lar food.

Dead­head or re­move spent blooms to pre­vent the plant from go­ing to seed too early. Re­move wilted flow­ers to pro­mote con­tin­ued bloom­ing. Leave the fo­liage in place un­til it dies and turns yel­low.

If you’re grow­ing pixie lilies in the garden it­self, di­vide es­tab­lished clumps ev­ery three to five years. Dig up the clump with a garden fork and split it, dump­ing old, woody or dam­aged growth. Then re-plant the clumps.

They’ll prob­a­bly be able to look af­ter them­selves in win­ter, but if in doubt, cover them with a three-inch mulch of leaf mould or com­post.

GOOD SHOW: Pixie lilies can be grown in con­tain­ers or beds.

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