Lily Germination By Species

Various Lilium species germination styles

© Darm Crook
Hay River, Northwest Territories, Canada
Zone 1 Canadian scale

In this article I will attempt to outline the methods of germination used by the various Lilium species I have grown. Obviously it will not be all inclusive as I have not grown every species. As well the time period from date of planting to germination will be given. This time period however can vary a lot from one planting to another as many factors have an effect on the seeds ability to germinate in a timely fashion. Some of these factors are, condition of seed; age of seed if it has not been kept frozen after proper drying. Moisture - to much to little. Temperatures.

The following species germinate as immediate epigeal and produce their cotyledon over the time frames given. There will be a few seeds in almost every seed lot that germinate slower than these time frames. As a rule with immediate epigeal germinating lilies the first true leaf will emerge about 4 weeks after the cotyledon. Some immediate epigeal germinating lilies will grow for two to three months after germinating and then senesce; when this occurs they need a 3 three month cold period or they will be lost. I have marked each species [below] that does this with an *.

Lilium amabile and its varieties *- 8 to 20 days.
Lilium callosum - 15 to 30 days.
Lilium candidum - 17 to 30 days.
Lilium catesbaei – 12 to 18 days.
Lilium cernuum and its variety alba *- 10 to 30 days - The L. cernuum alba I believe it to be an L. pumilum variety or L. pumilum hybrid; it is sold in Canada as an L. cernuum variety.
Lilium concolor and its varieties *- 12 to 35 days.
Lilium davidii and its varieties - 12 to 20 days.
Lilium duchartrei - 10 to 30 days.
Lilium fargesii – 90 to 180 day spread in seed germination all from the same batch. After 25 days incubation in a baggie at + 18 °C. the seeds were then treated to regular temperature swings from + 4 °C. to +18 °C.
Lilium formosanum var. pricei - 18 to 25 days.
Lilium formosanum 20 to 30 days.
Lilium henryi - 60 to 75 days. Fresh seeds may germinate faster.
Lilium lancifolium [tigrinum] - 10 to 17 days for fresh seeds 30 to 45 for older seeds.
Lilium lankongense - 15 to 35 days.
Lilium longiflorum 15 to 25 days.
Lilium lophophorum - 12 to 30 days.
Lilium leucanthum – 15 to 25 days
Lilium mackliniae - 20 to 50 days.
Lilium maculatum - [Wilsonii] and variety flavum 15 to 35 days.
Lilium maculatum variety davuricum 40 to 60 days. With the first true leaf taking another 90 days to make an appearance.
Lilium maculatum variety monticola - 25 to 35 days.
Lilium majoense - 14 to 25 days.
Lilium michauxii - an Eastern North American species germination in 25 to 35 days at 18 to 20 °C. Will also germinate at 10 to 17 °C. but has slower rates of germination at these temperatures.
Lilium nanum and its variety flavidum - 15 to 20 days. Once germinated these seedlings need a 10 to 14 hour day at + 18 to + 20 °C. Then a 10 hour night at temperatures around + 10 °C. Without the cool night the seedlings will simply collapse.
Lilium oxypetalum and its variety insigne - 10 to 25 days.
Lilium papilliferum - 8 to 15 days. Once germinated quite dry conditions are required or the seedlings will be lost.
Lilium philadelphicum - 12 to 25 days. You will obtain a much higher germination rate from this lilies seeds if after they are dried they are frozen for two weeks. Without freezing a 50 percent germination rate is about all that will be achieved, by freezing close to 100 percent germination rate will be achieved. It benefits these seedlings immensely if they are not potted up until they have started their root growth, as well when potting up the pot should be encased in a baggie with the top sealed, left this way for about two weeks and opened slowly over the course of the third week. For the first week in the sealed conditions the soil should be kept quite moist; this all helps give these seedlings a quick good start. These seedlings will not withstand any drought conditions during their first year. L. philadelphicum v. andinum requires an alkaline based soil, about a 7.5pH.
Lilium philippinense - 20 to 30 days.
Lilium primulinum v. ochraceum - 21 to 28 days.
Lilium pumilum and strains - 9 to 14 days.
Lilium regale - 12 to 30 days.
Lilium rosthornii - 22 to 60 days. L. rosthornii seeds will germinate faster if exposed to light; however, during their first year the seeds that are not exposed to light once germinated will out grow those that were germinated by being exposed to light. L. rosthornii seeds need more moisture than the average immediate epigeal seed to germinate well and quickly.
Lilium sargentiae - 25 to 35 days.
Lilium sulphureum - 8 to 20 days. If indeed these seeds were L. sulphureum and not hybrid seed.
Lilium taliense - 10 to 20 days.
Lilium taliense variety [nick name only] kaichen 20 to 30 days.
Lilium wallichianum - 20 to 35 days.
Lilium wardii - 20 to 30 days.

The following species seeds germinate as delayed epigeal, with some anomalies between the type and varieties. These lilies are in my opinion the hardest ones there are to germinate.
Lilium chalcedonicum - Most seeds will germinate well using the same method used for Lilium leichtlinii, but some may not. When you have some seeds that haven't germinated within a 6 week period after being moved to the +9 to +11 °C give them a second cold period. It is also well worth watching this species seeds even while they are in their initial cold period as a few may germinate after about four weeks.
Lilium leichtlinii - Will germinate well as follows. Dry harvested seed then freeze for a couple weeks, thaw them and place in a zip lock baggie under lights at room temperatures in moist planting medium for seven days then move to temperatures of +2 to +4 °C for six to eight weeks. Then move to temperatures of + 9 to +11 °C where they will start germinating in two to four weeks. Pot up after the bulblets start growing a root system.
Lilium leichtlinii variety Maximowiczii - The majority of the seeds of this variety germinate as immediate epigeal in 17 to 30 days. The few that don't germinate as immediate epigeal can be given a cold period of 3 months or so then planted out and they will germinate and come up the following year.
Lilium pyrenaicum - This Lilium will germinate well using the same procedure as Lilium leichtlinii. Alkaline soil required once germinated. Also included are the subspecies Lilium pyrenaicum ssp ponticum and Lilium pyrenaicum ssp ponticum v. artvinense.

The following specie seeds germinate as immediate hypogeal. They will sprout their first true leaf within the time frame given.

Lilium brownii - 60 to 90 days.
Lilium bukozanense - 20 to 35 days.
Lilium dauricum - 25 to 35 days.
Lilium dauricum variety alpinum - 12 to 25 days. Once germinated these seedlings require drier conditions than the type or they will be lost.

The following species seeds are immediate hypogeal cool germination. If held at temperatures of +9 to +11 °C. they will sprout their first true leaf about 60 to 80 days after the seed has germinated and the bulblet is well formed. If held at warmer or colder temperatures the seeds may never germinate but if they do the true leaf may never sprout. The planting medium in the baggies should be just moist; if it's too wet the seeds will refuse to germinate. They should not be potted up until the true leaf is sprouted and a root system has at least started to develop. These species seeds which I have grown will germinate as follows. If your climatic conditions are not the same as where these lilies naturally grow the direct planting method will not work.

Lilium bolanderi - 30 to 60 days
Lilium columbianum - 30 to 60 days. Some of its seeds will germinate as delayed hypogeal.
Lilium humboldtii - 30 to 60 days.
Lilium kelloggii - 35 to 90 days.
Lilium pardalinum - 30 to 75 days.
Lilium parryi - 45 to 80 days.
Lilium parvum - 30 to 60 days. Some of its seeds will germinate as delayed hypogeal.
Lilium pitkinense - 30 to 60 days.
Lilium rubescens - 40 to 80 days.
Lilium vollmeri - 30 to 75 days.
Lilium washingtonianum and its variety purpurascens 40 to 75 days.
Lilium wigginsii - 30 to 70 days.

The following species lilies are delayed hypogeal germination. They will sprout their first true leaf only after a 3 month cold period. The true leaf will be put up within a three week period from the time the bulblet is planted out. It is well worth watching these seeds on a regular basis as some may germinate as immediate hypogeal and the very odd one as immediate epigeal. The species with this type of germination which I have grown will germinate as follows.

Lilium auratum 30 to 40 days
Lilium bulbiferum - 30 to 40 days.
Lilium bulbiferum variety croceum - 30 to 40 days with about 30 percent of the seeds from most seed lots germinating as immediate hypogeal.
Lilium canadense and its varieties - 40 to 60 days.
Lilium distichum - 20 to 30 days.
Lilium hansonii - 25 to 35 days with the odd seed germinating as immediate hypogeal.
Lilium japonicum and its varieties - 25 to 50 days.
Lilium kesselringianum - 35 to 45 days.
Lilium ledebourii - 40 to 60 days.
Lilium martagon and its varieties - 16 to 30 days. Many L. martagon seed lots from the same pod will have seeds that will germinate as immediate hypogeal as well as delayed. From year to year the percentage of seeds that germinate as immediate hypogeal has varied for me from a low of ½ percent to a high of 7 percent. They are well worth watching for as they come to flower at least a year ahead of their siblings. Martagons will even produce the odd seed that germinates as immediate epigeal.
Lilium medeoloides - 25 to 35 days.
Lilium michiganense - 40 to 60 days.
Lilium monadelphum - 30 to 40 days. Some of these can be forced into immediate epigeal if a couple weeks after germination they are potted up, with the cotyledon exposed to light. It is hardly worth it as the losses are high. Many of these seedlings have long cotyledons for a delayed hypogeal germinating seed thus I had to try and force them into an epigeal growing pattern.
Lilium speciosum var. rubrum - 20 to 25 days.
Lilium superbum - 30 to 60 days.
Lilium szovitsianum - 50 to 80 days. The odd seed will germinate as immediate hypogeal.
Lilium tsingtauense - 25 to 35 days.

Also see LilyGermination

American Section A-M - American Section N-Z - Asiatic Section A-C - Asiatic Section D-K - Asiatic Section L-O - Asiatic Section P-Z - Candidum Section - Dauricum Section - Martagon Section - Oriental Section - Trumpet Section - Lilium Hybrids - Lilium Index

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