Splitting Lily Bulbs

Written by vickie ferguson Google
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Having a garden full of beautiful lilies is easy to achieve with the proper care and maintenance. To grow full, thick plants that will produce a profusion of vibrant and colourful lilies over the years, begin with the simple procedure of splitting the bulbs periodically. This process is the first step to maintaining the integrity of the lily and ensuring the plant's ability to produce quality flowers.

Skill level:
Moderately Easy

Things you need

  • Garden gloves
  • Gardening tool
  • Container
  • Potting soil
  • Peat moss
  • Compost
  • Plant food

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  1. 1

    Split lily bulbs to prevent overcrowding. Over time, the plant naturally multiplies and if not divided will cause overcrowded conditions with less water and nutrients being supplied to the parent plant. This situation can result in a decrease in the plant's overall foliage with fewer blooms and smaller flowers.

  2. 2

    Divide lily bulbs once the plant has established itself and starts producing additional bulbs, usually after 2 or 3 years. The new bulbs are split away from the parent and replanted to create new parent plants. The splitting process is a cycle that must be repeated throughout the life of each plant.

  3. 3

    Carefully dig around the lily plant using a spade or sharp garden tool to loosen the soil, then gently lift the plant from the hole, shaking any loose soil from the roots and bulbs. For new plants that are being divided for the first time, there should be small bulbs or bulblets attached to the main plant. Carefully pull the bulblets away from the parent and place in a container.

  4. 4

    Replace the parent plant in the hole and refill with a mixture of soil and peat moss. Add additional potting soil to the mixture, if needed. Supply plant food and lightly water the plant to provide moisture. Do not overwater the lily.

  5. 5

    Place several bulblets in the new garden space approximately 5 to 6 inches deep in an area with well-draining soil and adequate sunlight. Allow plenty of room between each planted section to provide room for the lilies to grow and expand.

  6. 6

    Mix soil and peat moss and backfill each hole. Top with compost and plant food, and lightly water. Mark the area with a weather-resistant plaque, noting the date of planting to chart future splitting of the bulbs.

  7. 7

    Plant lily bulbs in containers for indoor or outdoor use. This requires the same needs as garden-based plants regarding water, food and sunlight. Plant the bulbs in a soil, peat moss and potting soil mixture in a container with excellent drainage. Place the bulblets 6 to 8 inches deep, depending on the size of the container, and backfill with the soil mixture. Finish with compost, food and enough water to moisten the soil but not be soggy.

Tips and warnings

  • Bulbs can be stored for future planting if kept in a cool, well-ventilated area with the roots kept moist, not wet or soggy. Wrap the roots in paper or peat moss or other medium that will help keep them moist. If the root dries out, the bulb will die. Do not store bulbs in sealed bags since this promotes rot due to lack of ventilation.
  • Many plants are poisonous to animals, including varieties of lilies such as tiger lilies, oriental lilies and Easter lilies.
  • Do not overwater lilies or plant them in an area where water tends to gather and stand.

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