tall lilies

Jim McKenney jamesamckenney@verizon.net
Thu, 06 Oct 2011 13:33:34 PDT
Jim W. wrote: "Surprised that no one has mentioned the tall growing L. lanceifolium and L. formosanum. Both can top 7 ft and are readily available."

True words, but I didn't mention Lilium formosanum and L. lancifolium for good reasons: each comes with certain caveats. 
Lilium formosanum is one of the most elegant and beautiful members of the genus, but it is very erratic in its garden performance. Plants often prove to be short lived. The species is notorious for being a virus magnet: in the old days some commercial growers grew it among their other stocks to find out if those stocks were virused. It's quick and easy from seed, and sometimes it blooms the same year it is sown. And it has the dubious distinction of being the first lily to be considered an invasive weedy species in some localities. I grow it and would not want to be without it. 
Lilium lancifolium is the plant known to gardeners for nearly two hundred years as Lilium tigrinum. In the old days the stocks were evidently all badly virused; modern catalogs claim to offer clean stock. Many lily growers will have nothing to do with it. It's undeniably impressive when growing well, and in slightly acidic soil it grows like a weed. I don't think it is lime tolerant. As with Lilium formosanum, I grow it and would not want to be without it. It is one of the few lilies I don't hesitate to cut for the house. 
Here's a curious thing: this year the tiger lilies in my garden did not produce stem bulbils - not a one. Was the drought responsible for this? 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, 39.03871º North, 77.09829º West, USDA zone
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