Temperamental Lilies !

Usually due to our wet, mild winters, lilies don’t do very well for me on our heavy clay.  Because our soil is very sticky during the winter months, the bulbs usually just rot away, never to be seen again, in spite of specially preparing the site for them. Thanks to the freezing cold and snow last winter, instead of all the rain we would normally have had, the lilies seem to have done so much better.



Our first lily to flower is a martagon lily which likes to be in semi shade. This one took a long time to settle down before it decided it was happy (2 or 3 years). It has obviously now decided that it likes where I have put it because it gets better and better with more and more flowers each year. But I didn’t just plant one – where are its friends – given up the ghost I think!

auratum buds

These bulbs are of a hybrid of L. auratum, given to me by friend  Jill quite some time ago.


They are in a pot which was stood in the border and I then forgot to move it.

auratum flower

Now I find I can’t move it, they have rooted through the base!

auratum flowers

The bulbs obviously like the good drainage from being in a pot and the roots like the nourishment they are getting from the soil below.


The perfume they send  around the garden is wonderful – it finds you on the breeze no matter where you are.

longiflorum bud

Lilium longiflorum is a new one for me, so is still in its pot just dropped in the front border – my bee and butterfly border.

longiflorum opening

As it is still in its pot, I can bring this one onto the front porch for the winter to save it having to put up with our winter rain.

longiflorum flower

This too has a beautiful perfume, but not as strong as the auratum hybrid.

longiflorum close up

The bees certainly love it, every time I walk past, the flower is buzzing, but I missed them this time !

regale flower

Lilium regale is another beautiful one with a delicious perfume.

regale flower

Unfortunately this is the one that I have most trouble with, keeping it going from one year to the next.


I think maybe to be more successful I ought to plant them all in pots to overwinter in the porch out of the rain.

lily beetle

This however is the scourge of lily growers – the red lily beetle. Most days I check my plants and any beetles are dealt with accordingly. By this I mean they are all caught in a tissue and stamped on with full force !! Why the tissue – because if they drop off the plant they always land on their back and show their black underside – impossible to see on the soil. Have to keep checking all summer, otherwise they eat all the leaves and flowers.

Their offspring are altogether absolutely revolting, covering themselves with their own excretia (sorry!) so I try to get rid of the adults before they have a chance to lay their eggs. To think that such gorgeous flowers could have such a deadly enemy !!


Lilies, in spite of this, will always be one of my favourite plants, must try more in different colours, its only just dawned on me that most of mine are white !

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6 Responses to Temperamental Lilies !

  1. I love Lilies too, yours are beautiful and yes the perfume around the garden can be amazing, I never even thought of buying lilies but received some free with an order years ago, they did well for me and grew better over the years so last autumn I bought more and with our summer (or lack there of) this year they have not done well, I’ll be including them in a post when I can get myself into gear for writting about the garden, still at least I’m reading a few garden blogs again, thanks for your words of sympathy much appreciated, Frances

    • Pauline says:

      Sorry to hear that your lilies have been a disapointment this year – not surprising with the weather you have had thrown at you this summer. Hopefully they will be better for you next year. Has the dreaded lily beetle reached you up in your corner, I hope not.

  2. Cyndy says:

    As your pix show, the flowers are truly lovely, but the lily beetles take a lot of the fun out of it, esp if you don’t want to use pesticides.

  3. Lovely lilies Pauline. I used to have loads when I lived down South – but then stopped growing them because of red lily beetle – (I hate that squishing sensation) I have a few here as there is not much beetle – although it struck a garden a few villages away for the first time this summer 🙁

    In answer to your question on my last post, we certainly don’t have time to re-do the kitchen, it was complete madness!

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