Lilium poilanei

iain@auchgourishbotanicgarden.org iain@auchgourishbotanicgarden.org
Sun, 12 Apr 2015 02:59:04 PDT
Mr. Car your small bulb of Lilium poilanei should be able to cope with the USDA Zone 8, however, there is always
an however. This taxon comes from a mountain range on the frontier between China and Vietnam, its not quite
as simple as asking if your zone is suitable. I don't know much about the detailed climate where you live but this
lily comes from a region of relatively high humidity but like all lilies it needs near perfect drainage. As long as the
moisture at its roots is free flowing downwards that shouldn't be a problem but bare in mind this region in Asia
does not have the same seasonality as many other parts of the world. I grow this taxon in northern Scotland in
what is a crude equivalent to your USDA Zone 8, with ours being circa Zone 6 or 6A, roughly !  However we have
extremely distinct seasons where Spring is late, it has only just arrived with still night time frosts down to - 5 C but
rapidly increasing day lengths; our snow line after last night's deposit is down to c. 300 metres asl., but right now
we have a Sunday morning blizzard however the snow here won't last long.... hopefully however the skiers are 
wandering around with smiles on their faces, oh to be young again. 

Seedlings of this taxon and several others are now just beginning to start into growth here in our greenhouse. 
Your working presumption should be growing your bulb in soils with a pH of  4.5 to a maximum of 6.0 or 6.5 tops. 
Allow your bulb to rest over winter, here ours shut down in Autumn around September for most species other than 
L. candidum. As you no doubt already know the flowers on lilies are bud formed the year prior to flowering hence
the benefit of a rest from Autumn through to late Winter or Spring whenever that is with you. These lilies cannot cope
with fierce direct sunlight, they originate from a south temperate broadleaf forest environment and must have a
reasonable amount of shade or they will just wilt and quickly desiccate.

Lilium polanei in now thought to be possibly a variety or subspecies the extreme eastern end of the range of 
Lilium ? primulinum  but until the current phylotaxonomy investigation work is completed we wont know for certain.
Enjoy your lily, whatever its botanical status might prove to be.  It was first collected by Eugene Poilane in what was 
then French Indo China between 1920 - 1934 when he removed over 2000 plants but these never became established.
Several recent collections of seeds have been made, most responsible people now know massed bulb collections are
just plain bad practice, propagation from seed is no great difficulty but it isn't yet clear to me whether this species is
capable of self pollination, the balance of probability suggests it may well not be able to.  I grows around 90 - 50 cms 
when mature having several light yellow campanulate to revolute flowers with a dark red / purple ridge line on each tepal. 

Enjoy your lily, it is still very rare in cultivation and at the rate the Chinese are plundering the Vietnamese forests it may
well have a similar fate to that of L. arboricola from Burma where Chinese deforestation has been so catastrophic.

Regards, Iain
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