Lilium bolanderi germination

Kenneth Hixson
Sat, 20 Jan 2007 00:20:42 PST
Dear members:
         First, I have planted seed of L. bolanderi, but don't have any
positive experience.  I didn't even try this lily for many years,
because I've always heard it was "difficult"--which means that no one
seems to know just how to give it what it needs to thrive.  The
only garden grown plants I've seen in this area were growing on the
north side of a rock, on a north facing slope where it didn't get much
summer irrigation.

         Eastern American lilies need different treatment than Western
American lilies.  Easterners need the warm stratification, then
the cool period.  Lilies from the deep south (michauxii, iridollae, etc)
may not need a cool period, but it doesn't seem to harm them.
I haven't tried to grow L. philadelphicum, as I don't expect it to
grow under my conditions.

         Western American lilies are different--they will rot if given
a warm stratification before forming a bulblet.  When I receive
seed--as from a seed exchange--in February, I put it into the
freezer until planting in September or October.

Diane wrote
>With wild-collected species, I have had these times:
>columbianum - 5 months from January
>kelleyanum and kelloggii - 2 months from April
>vollmeri - 5 or 6 months from March
>washingtonianum - 11 months from January
>So they vary quite a bit.

         Under my conditions here in western Oregon, seed of
L. washingtonianum (purpurescens) planted near October first,
may be up before Thanksgiving (third week of November)--or
in six weeks.  Different years, it may be longer, perhaps depending
on the temperatures.  Desirable temperature is about 40-45F,
and preferably varying between day and night.  I don't keep the detailed
records Diane does, but this is usually the way it works.  I do
not use peat and plastic bags for western american seed, though
I do for orientals.
         I'm not sure, but I think some forms of L. parryi may not
need such cool temperatures to germinate.
         Seedlings germinating on December first will have to endure
the worst of our winter weather, so presumably winter cold and rain
is less harmful than the long dry summer.  Or, perhaps the seedlings
can thus grow while the surrounding vegetation is dormant, and
by the time the other plants get growing, the lilies are starting to
go dormant, and are shaded through the heat of summer.

         We often get a few rainy days in late August, but more
dependably the third week of September (the autumn equinox).
Then, often an "indian summer" of cool crisp but sunny weather
into the middle of November.

         Some people take great pains to separate western american
lilies into "dry land lilies", and "wet land lilies".  My experience
is that it is not that simple, at least for seedlings.  Some summer
moisture is needed, as long as drainage is good.  Even L. humboldtii
and L. h. ocellatum will tolerate summer moisture for the first year
and perhaps the second.  After (at the latest) the second summer,
L. humboldtii seems to need to be dry for a couple months after it
starts to dry down.  Otherwise it rots.  I haven't tried shading the
seedlings, perhaps that would work.
         My present assumption is that L. bolanderi should also have
a dry period during periods of high soil temperatures.  This is probably
why it is often suggested that it be grown in a scree or rock garden.

         The tiny seedling bulblets of western americans do not pull
themselves down into the ground, and can be seen right on top of
the soil surface--and  will develop basal rot, even if not watered.
I believe this is because the soil surface gets hot, and the tiny bulbs
burn.  Try shading--at least 50% the first year,  and until the bulbs
start to gain some size.  Then allow a shallow annual to grow over
them to provide summer shade and soak up some of the water.
Shading serves to cools soil temperatures, and partially replace
the summer water.

         These things probably won't work under all conditions, but
they seem to work here.  Perhaps this will suggest something that
will work under other conditions.


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