Nth. Am. Lilium

Jim McKenney jimmckenney@starpower.net
Thu, 17 Jun 2004 15:34:43 PDT

Like Dirk, I've germinated plenty of seed: pardalinum, rubescens,
washingtonianum and washingtonianum purpurascens, pitkinense, kelloggii,
bolanderi, columbianum, shastense, wigginsii, parryi, vollmeri, humboldtii
and probably others.

Germinating the seed is the easy part: just keep it damp and cold but above
freezing for several months. 

The resulting seedlings vary a lot in appearance. Some, such as those of L.
washingtonianum, are broad of leaf and seemingly robust.

And like Dirk, I've managed to kill the lot of them. There seem to be two
general problems to overcome. One has to do with the period of active
growth. These plants bloom in the wild much later than the few which
survive here in the east do. Are our eastern winters not long enough? Or is
it just that our eastern springs are so much warmer? I noted that Jane
reported Lilium candidum coming onto bloom recently (was it earlier this
week?). That species blooms in late-May or early June here. Jane's winters
are milder than ours, too - but her springs are cooler. 

The other major problem to overcome is to determine how much moisture they
require during the summer. I get the impression that many of the western
lilies get off to a late start and then mature seeds in late July or August
during relatively dry conditions - and then, in late August or September
the rains start up again (don't you love it when someone broadly
generalizes about the weather over an area several thousand miles in
length?). Well, anyway, that's the impression I have. 

What utterly baffles me is that west coast growers have their own problems
with these lilies. I don't think there is much hope for someone like myself
who has such a naive grasp of the conditions under which these lilies grow. 

I've got seed of several of these westerners in the fridge now - I'm not
about to give up yet. 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery County, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where Lilium canadense is
now blooming and complimenting the Japanese iris nicely.  

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