Lilium candidum

Jim McKenney
Mon, 14 Jun 2004 07:12:12 PDT
John, Lilium candidum has a history, a history which goes back centuries,
of frustrating gardeners . But here's a hint about its culture. Back in the
old days, Lilium candidum was one of the few lilies carried by the Dutch
bulb trade. Why? Well, for one, it propagates easily from scales. But the
reason I want to emphasize is that virtually alone among lilies, Lilium
candidum requires dry summer conditions. They are dormant when typical
garden lilies are in active growth. They grow on roughly the same schedule
as tulips and other typical commercial bulbs. 

My advice would be to grow them in full sun in very well-drained, neutral
or even alkaline soil. Keep them dry once the foliage dies down, and don't
water them until the new foliage starts to appear in late summer. You can
even dig them for the summer and store them out of the sunlight. If you
break some scales when digging them, save the scales - they will quickly
form bulblets. 

You know that the bulbs should be just tucked under the ground or even left
partially exposed, don't you?

Years ago a nurseyman friend had some dubious quality bulbs of Lilium
candidum which he did not put out for sale. They sat in the trunk of his
car in an open plastic bag of wood shavings for several months. When he
went to throw them away, he saw that the bulbs had largely fallen apart but
that almost every scale had produced little bulblets. 

This lily is rarely seen in local gardens now that it's so expensive.
People find it hard to believe that this lily was once grown successfully
as a field crop here in Maryland. 

I would think that it would grow like a weed in LA - or am I just showing
my ignorance of Californian conditions? 

Jim McKenney
Montgomery county, Maryland, USA, USDA zone 7, where, to be candid, I have
been known to have trouble with candidum, too.  

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