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lilyseed.com > Growing > Growing N. American Lilium Species


Growing Western North American Native Lilies
There are basically two climatic types: lilies that like wet conditions, such as Lilium pardalinum; and lilies that like dry conditions, such as Lilium rubescens. The seeds for both are started using the same methods. The seeds need 3–5 months at 45–55 degrees F. to start germinating. This is called hypogeal germination. Grow all N. American Lilium seedlings in filtered shade until 3 years old.

First Method:
Plant seeds directly into pots outside in the fall. An extremely well drained planting medium is a must. Cover the seeds with 1/2” of soil. I like to start them in pots or 12” deep boxes, 1 to 2 inches apart both ways. I've found an inch or two of charcoal in the bottom of the container helps immensely.
Grow the seedlings in filtered shade. Don't let the pots freeze. Grow on for two years before transplanting out into their permanent positions.
On the western North American coast, I've had the best results planting the seeds in August, and watering until the rainy season. The seeds can be planted as late as October. After October, use the Second Method.

Second Method:
Start seeds in a plastic bag of moist perlite in the refrigerator at 45–55 degrees F. for 3–5 months. After the small bulbs develop, keep a close watch and plant in pots when the first leaves appear. Plant 1 to 2 inches apart both ways. Cover seeds with 1/2” of soil. An extremely well drained planting medium is a must. I've found an inch or two of charcoal in the bottom of the pot helps immensely. Grow the seedlings in filtered shade. Don't let the pots freeze. Grow on for two years before transplanting out into their permanent positions.

Third Method:
Plant seeds directly into their permanent positions in the fall. An extremely well drained planting medium is a must. Cover with 1/2” of soil. This method works well in western N. America, especially for the dry condition lilies.
Lilium rubescens and Lilium washingtonianun grow well in disturbed soil, such as a road bank. The small seedlings may need protection from afternoon sun. In the lilies' native enviroment, the seedlings grow up through brush. Be sure to protect young lilies from pests, slugs, snails, gophers, mice, deer, cats, dogs, etc., etc., etc.


Wet Land Lilies, Western N. American
Lilium pardalinum is easy! The humming birds and butterflies love it, it transplants easily, and multiplies rapidly from a rhizome-like bulb. Plant mature bulbs 4–5 inches deep in cool loose loamy soil. The scales also sprout and grow easily, so when transplanting if any scales break off, plant them 1” deep and you'll have lots of baby lilies. Takes partial shade to full sun in the north, give filtered shade in the south. In the garden keep the bulbs on the dry side and the roots damp for best results. In cold areas try a thick layer of mulch to protect the bulbs from freezing in the winter.
Naturally these beauties grow in streams with the bulb sitting above the summer water level and the roots down in the water. When the streams run high in winter the bulbs are often totally covered with cold but not frozen running water. They find places in the streams where rocks or tree roots keep them from washing away in winter storms. The seeds fall down into the pebbles and stones of the creek bank and take root.
From my experience L. pardalinum grows well in pots and likes to be crowded. When planting in containers
cover the bulbs with only 2 inches of soil. My best blooming stalk last year was from a bulb scrunched up against the side of the pot!
If you are new to growing species lilies give Lilium pardalinum and Lilium pardalinum subspecies a try – I think you will be pleasantly surprised.


Dry Land Lilies, Western N. American
These beauties naturally grow on mountain slopes rich in humus, tops in the sun and roots in the shade. In captivity they do best in humus-rich loamy scree on an extremely well drained slope with filtered shade.
The dry condition lilies need a drying off period after flowering, just like a Lewisia (yes, I also grow Lewisia). Drought tolerant!
My happiest dry condition lilies are the ones I've planted and left alone. Once mature, no water, no nothing! They have naturalized in my west coast climate. The stems die back in late summer. In spring new stems sprout from the bulb, year after year. (The Lilium rubescens, 25 years so far.)
Where they grow naturally the average low temperature in the winter is 30–40 degrees F. In colder areas try a thick layer of mulch to protect the bulbs from freezing. Mature dry condition lilies do not transplant well, it is good to find a permanent position and leave them there.



Growing Eastern North American Native Lilies
Most of the eastern N. American species need a three month warm period. A small bulb will develop at the end of this warm period. After the small bulbs develop, give 3 months cold at 45–55 degrees F., like the western N. American species, to encourage leaf growth.
The eastern N. American Lilium species do well planted outside in pots in early summer. A leaf will come up the next spring.
Two exceptions are Llium philadelphicum and Lilium catesbaei, which both show imedate epigeal germination. Plant these two in the spring and they will come up in 2–4 weeks. Lilium philadelphicum needs light to germinate, plant on the surface of the soil. Lilium catesbaei needs protection from frost.


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