Sun lovers prove to be real little troopers
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.