How to plant lily tree bulbs

Written by ally laconi
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How to plant lily tree bulbs
Lily trees are as pretty and fragrant as any other lily, just taller. (lily image by Maciej Syrek from

Lily trees -- hybrid Oriental lilies first created by the horticulturists at Dutch bulb company Breck's -- make a striking addition to landscapes with their huge trumpet-shaped blooms. The name "lily tree" is a bit misleading, as these are not actually trees but simply a type of lily bred to grow 90 cm to 2.4 m (3 to 8 feet) tall. For the most part, lily tree bulbs have the same soil, sunlight and drainage preferences as other lily bulbs. The main difference is that the bulbs are larger and so need to be planted in slightly deeper holes. Lily trees are also called tree lilies.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Shovel
  • Balanced time-release fertiliser
  • Organic mulch
  • Compost or peat moss
  • Water sprinkler

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  1. 1

    Choose a planting site where your tree lily can enjoy frequent, full sun. In hotter climates, if you are planting at a Mediterranean holiday home, look for a partially shaded area that will provide your tree lily with some respite from the afternoon heat.

  2. 2

    Dig a hole about 25 to 30 cm (10 to 12 inches) deep. Lily trees typically have larger bulbs than other lily species. When you place the bulb into the planting hole, you can double-check to determine whether you have dug deep enough by holding an open hand in the hole, the ends of your fingers resting on the top of the bulb. If the top of the hole is wrist level, you've got the right depth.

  3. 3

    Place the bulb into the hole and fill in the gaps with compost or peat moss. A few handfulls should suffice. Lily trees prefer well-drained soil, and over-packing the bulb in its hole can prevent adequate drainage.

  4. 4

    Apply a balanced, time-release fertiliser according to the manufacturer's directions.

  5. 5

    Layer 5 or 7.5 cm (2 or 3 inches) of organic mulch over the top of the planting site.

  6. 6

    Water your lily tree once a week for at least 20 to 30 minutes. Lily trees have long, deep roots and prefer less frequent but heavier watering to daily, shallower watering.

Tips and warnings

  • When buying lily tree bulbs from a garden centre, look for firm, plump bulbs with roots attached.
  • Plant lily tree bulbs soon after purchasing them, whether you buy them locally or order them through the mail. Bulbs can dry out if not planted quickly enough.
  • Never plant a lily tree in a site where standing water tends to collect.

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