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Thread: Preparing Tiger Lily Bulbil-Seedlings for Winter

  1. #1
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    Preparing Tiger Lily Bulbil-Seedlings for Winter

    Hi ! I am new to this board and I'm happy to have found so much info. applicable to my question. I am muddling through growing tiger lily bulbils which I received from a grower in Washington state. I started them back in July in pots on my south basement daylight window. I have since resigned myself to the first alarming occurence and that was how they are literally hanging by a thread at their base and flop over. I shored them up with popsicle sticks and additional soil.(I think they are forming additional anchor roots). My big question is this--they have lived a pampered life so far and appear to be so very delicate, so thin fragile and grass-like. How can I prepare them for the 'outside world' which I understand they will have to go to soon. I find it hard to believe they could possible survive even going outside let alone a cold winter ! I'd appreciate info. on how to prep. them .
    Thank you, Cathy
    Zone5/6 Wichita , Kansas

  2. #2
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    Welcome, Cathy!

    Thanks for becoming a member of Landspro!

    You ask a very good question... It sounds to me like your bulbils have been in need of a little more sun. I have some problems with that myself at times. I will see some getting more leggy than others and leaning sidewise to get more light. You see, it gets so very hot here, and as much as I love lily bulbs, we get too much rain, so I have to plant them in raised beds or pots which presents a problem when a sudden and prolonged drought arrives, and believe me, that does happen... So, I tend to plant them in morning sun or near a deciduos tree.

    We don't have basements here as our water table is too high being so close to the gulf, I suppose, but I would dearly love to have one. Fluorescent lights are a big help if you have plants that are not yet blooming, but you really do need to invest in a good grow light if you want bloom under lights.

    In the case of your bulbils, though, they probably need to be slowly acclimated to the outdoors where hopefully, you will be able to plant them permanently. If it were me, I would first take them outside and put them in shade. Then after a few days or a week, I would move them more toward morning sun. They should be fine there until your cool fall weather begins and they go dormant which hopefully will be well before the first frost. It usually is here, anyway.

    I have no way of telling by what you have described how big the bulbils have gotten, so I do not know if they will survive the harder freezes in your zone, yet. Perhaps, someone else has tried this in zone 5/6 can help.

    If nothing else, and you are unsure, you can always dig them up, let them dry somewhat and store them in a dry, cool, but not freezing location, like your basement or frig until spring. They just need a cool dormant period to rest, and they will bounce right back again in the spring when you plant them outside. You can plant them out again as soon as your ground stops freezing. The frost will not hurt them, but I am not sure about the freezing ground when they are very tiny.

    However, if you are talking about full sized bulbs, about 1 and 1/2 inches are so, then they can be planted outdoors at any time now.

    I am curious and would like to know more about these additional anchor roots that you mentioned. The reason I say that is because several of mine have these roots that form just at soil level at the base of the stem. Usually my Stargazers do that. My understanding is that you can carefully cut this stem below the roots and keeping the roots intact, plant the stem with the newly formed roots and it will grow into a new bulb. I had hoped to try this last year, but things happened and I did not.

    However, I have some Stargazers doing the same thing this year, and I will be trying it in the near future...

    They also say you can take stem cuttings as long as you provide them with ample humidity, but not soggy soil, so I hope to try that also. We will see...


    Again, Welcome Aboard! Keep us posted and we will do the same!!!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  3. #3
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    Glad you are here Lilly

    I am going thru the same process, for the first time. Just a little different approach, as recommended here and elsewhere. I collected the bulbils and spread them all out in a freezer bag of moist vermiculite. In about 4 or 5 weeks they had pretty good roots (I've got pictures of them If I can find them)

    I seperated them and planted each on in a seperate cell of potting soil about a week ago. No top growth yet, but I have noticed something surprising. I expected them to act like a seed, but they are definately not a seed. The bulbil is expanding just like a leaf bud getting ready to put out a new stem. The outer shell is pulling away, and the inside seems to be expanding.

    As soon as I got them set in cells, I misted them really well and next day put them out under a shade tree. During this first week they have gotten very little sun, I was afraid that with the bulbil, pot and soil being black, the heat of the sun would be too much for them.

    Let me see if I can get this phot to work. If I can get them to show up I'll make a photo of the little expanding bulbil later.
    Attached Images  
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

  4. #4
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    Just Wait...

    Tom and All!

    What a big surprise you are in for... Just wait until you see how fast these babies grow. They do develop roots first, then the bulbil will start growing, and when the leaves sprout, watch out, for they will start growing so very fast, it will amaze you...

    It seems to me that most of the bulbils energy seems to be in the growth of the bulbil itself and the roots, but once it sprouts, that is intensified.

    It is so remarkable that I promise you, if you like plants, you will be hooked forever, and if you like bulbs, you are a goner, just like ME! My GOSH, they are so much FUN!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  5. #5
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    Ann/Tom- Thank you ! I wish I had known about the freezer bag/vermiculite method-it just sounds cleaner and probably more effective for germination..
    I like the idea of the gradual acclimation. Re the size of the bulbils--I don't know how big the bulbils are under the soil-but I can't believe they are much bigger than they started out in July when they arrived pea-size. Above the soil, they range anywhere from 2 to 6 inches in height(or 'length' for the ones that have taken to 'lounging' on their sides!). The sun theory might be a strong possibility--but those threadlike base stems seem flimsy to begin with--Tom, have you seen those thread like stem bases yet ?
    Unless I hear otherwise from a zone 5/6'er, I'm leaning towards 'storage'. If I do extricate them from their pots, let them dry somewhat and store them in a dry, cool, but not freezing location, like the fridge until spring, ***What should I put them in--tupperware or a Baggy or ?***
    Re the additional anchor roots, I just saw them for the first time today. I kind of chuckled because I thought here I am worried about their flimsy thread stems not being able to hold them up and there was Mother Nature saying, 'thanks, but I have that under control with these nifty auxiliary roots !' LOL
    I also have some Golden Trumpet lilies in the same situation(however, they have real stems not those thread based ones like the lilies) , but ***I assume all this acclimation/storage info. applies to them as well ?***
    Thank you,Cathy
    Ann- you are lucky that you have Stargazers. My two come up every year and set a sickly bud and then just wither away.

  6. #6
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    Re: Stargazer

    Cathy,

    The Stargazer should do just fine in your landscape in Zone 5. They are sold here often at a hefty price in pots, 3 to a pot, and blooming, but they will do best in the ground. They like full sun, and I must admit where I am keeping mine is not quite full sun, and I need to move them.

    I will do my best tomorrow to get a picture of the roots that form at the bottom of the stem just above the top of the bulb. It is time form me to try that other propagation method by separating it from the bulb. You can all watch me succeed for fail.... What FUN to try, though!

    I have had my Stargazers go to seed, but at the time, I didn't know how to make them germinate. Now, I do, and I know that you need to do it right away for the seeds are not viable for long. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, mine started to form seed this year, only to have the seed pod swell, then shrivel up and fall off before they ripened. Next year, I will hand pollinate them...

    I am learning just like the rest of you....

    And it is so very FUN!
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  7. #7
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    Cool Tiger Lily Bulbils

    Here in Ceentral Indiana, Zone 5a, Tiger lilies can be a pest! That's how hardy they are! The bulbils will fall from the parent plant and lie there on the ground for days, or even weeks, strike a root and pull themselves down into the soil just enough to anchor themselves. The following spring my flower beds are littered with baby Tigers. The first season they may grow only two or three leaves, pouring most of their energy into bulb formation. Their second season they will look more like a real lily and by the third, they are trying to produce a flower or two. One thing I have noticed about them is beginning their second year these youngsters will produce a bulbil or several!

    Since I do not want to be over run with Tiger Lilies, I begin removing the bulbils as soon as they are big enough to get a hold of. I do leave a few to grow and mature on the mother plant. When they have produced 2 to 3 'noses' I gently remove them. Sometimes I place these larger bulbils where I want them to grow and sometimes I pot them up.

    When potting, I will push several into a large pot filled with potting mix. They aren't pushed in very far, only to the point where the tops are just below the surface. I carefully water them in then place them in a protected area of the garden. After that, all I do is keep the soil moist. Some will sprout within days, others take weeks. I do not bring them indoors. I group all the perennial seedlings together in a protected area either in the garden or on my patio. They stay out all winter.

    After they begin growth in the spring, I transplant the larger seedlings to their own pots (at least 6" size) and grow them on in full sun. I keep them watered and feed monthly with a water soluable balanced fertilizer. By the end of the summer they are realy for a permanent home.

    I also like to use the Tigers in large containers for movable focal points. They do very well in 14 inch pots or larger. I have several (now!) in a half whiskey barrel! The main bulb grows an amazing 6 1/2 feet tall and seems to grow taller each year. It has one heck of a show and produces the largest bulbils you've ever seen!

    These bulbils may be small to start out, but they are still a bulb and should be treated as such; just stick em in the dirt and watch them grow!

    BTW, ALL Asiatic Lilies will produce roots at the base of their stems at soil level. They will also produce new bulbs at this location, usually late in the season after blooming. The taller the plant the more roots it will develope.

    Another interesting tidbits about Asiatics is if the main stem should break away from the bulb it is more apt to develope base line bulbules as well as the bulbils in the leaf axis. Not all Asiatics automatically produce them like the Tiger Lily does!

    As you see, some of you are making the growing of these Tiger Lily bulbils much harder than it has to be! This lily wants to grow and reproduce as many of its' kind as possible; and it really doesn't need much help from us!


    Rebecca
    Zone 5a

  8. #8
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    Rebecca,
    Zone 5a-woo-hoo! Thanks-Now, here's where I need to understand what makes an area a protected one--exposure(N,S,E,W)?---if I just sink the pots in the ground should I mulch and when(after first freeze or ?).
    Thanks,Cathy
    P.S. In reference to volunteer lilies-Ah, for the real soil of the upper midwest/northeast. I remember long ago and far way when soil was black and rich and anything would grow. I thought it was that way everywhere. Imagine my disappointment when I found that I moved to the clay capital of the US(probably in the top ten) where soil is orange and adding sand makes adobe!(well, sort of!)

  9. #9
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    Cathy, I Agree!

    Unfortunately, what is easy for some is not so easy for others, and as Cathy is pointing out so very clearly, we all live within our own limitations created by our very specific local climates and soil conditions.

    What is to some an obnoxious weed is a treasure to those who do not have the climate for them to spread so readily.

    I have seen on the internet where Thunbergia grandiflora is an obnoxious weed, but when I took a 3 gallon potted cutting in bloom to demonstrate propagation techniques to a group of Master Gardeners in my area, I guarentee you, no one would have called it a weed. It is gorgeous, the blooms are huge and so very beautiful. Perhaps, in zone 10 or higher, it is a weed, but for us it is a luxury.

    Many plants self seed themselves, and multiply readily given the right climate, but I think the point being made here is that for some of us who do not live in the 'perfect climate', well, suffice it to say, we have to make do, and help good ole mother nature along. And sometimes, we have to learn a bit to be able to do that.

    Many of us take for granted our wonderful climates. And being in an area of the country that receives an averaqe of 65 inches of rain a year, you could say that I can take that for granted. But I cannot, for you see we went several months this last spring with very little rain at all. It was an unsuallly long drought for us, and a learning period that we all had to adjust to.

    I guess what I am trying to say, is that what may seem so simple and easy for some, may also be very difficult and new to others.

    Me, myself, and I, Lilium are not as prolific as you are indicating, Rebecca. Hostas are gorgeous up north, and HUGE, but take my word for it, they can be mighty tough here as simple as they may be for you to grow.

    All climates and conditions are different, and in my mind, it takes knowing and understanding what you are dealing with if you like a specific plant and want to do your best to make in thrive under than less than perfect conditions....

    What FUN it is to be able to grow plants that normally do not grow well in our natural setting! Learning is what it is all about...
    Ann B.
    Zone 9a
    Gulf Coast


  10. #10
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    Arrow

    I have some of the worst soil around! It's all fill and is a poor excuse for soil at best. It may not be Georgia red clay, by clay it is none the less. In summer is gets as hard as concrete! I feed, I water and I use a lot of wood chips that I get for the asking from the local street department. Summers average in the 90's with high humidity most days, Winters can get down to the minus teens.

    We have also been in a drought this summer; I think that has been fairly wide spread this year. "They" say we'll probably have a wetter than normal winter. And colder. We get what we get and do the best we can with it 'cause we sure can't do anything about it!

    As for the Tiger Lily bulbils, I stand by what I said. They are a true bulb, albeit very small, and should be treated as such. They need very high light to grow well indoors, but since they are quite hardy anywhere there are definet seasonal changes, it really isn't necessary to start them indoors. I wasn't saying you shouldn't, just that you don't have to! (BTW, I've seen TL bulbils root in the cracks in the cement sidwalks and asphalt driveways/parking lots!)

    A 'protected area' would be anywhere on your property that is protected from high winds and heavy rains and where the potted seedlings won't sit in standing water. I winter over a lot of seedlings on my patio next to a raised bed I built at one corner of the patio. I have to use two cell-pack trays, one to hold the small pots and the second to raise the entire unit up off the concrete. It helps keep the slugs away from the small plants and it keeps their 'feet' from staying too wet. Sinking the pots into the garden, preferably in front of a small shrub or other similarily sized plant (protects the seedling from wind and heavy rain) and adding a loose layer of mulch would be very benificial. A South, South-East or South-West exposure would be preferred over any Northernly exposure where shade and wind would be a problem.

    If you have a place to set one up, a cold frame would be ideal! You can even get an early start on annual bedding plants and vegetable plants by using a cold frame. I don't have one, due to lack of an appropiate area to place one, but I sure wish I did! I'd have daylily seedlings blooming at least 6 months sooner and I could actually grow roses from cuttings in one along with a lot of other plants I can't grow! It's actually quite a challange to grow well grown plants where I live. Just like everywhere else.

    Forgive me if I stepped on anyones toes!

  11. #11
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    Not to Worry

    No hurting toes here. It's just really interesting that you would refer to Tiger lillies as pests, when we have such a struggle getting them to even produce seed, or living bulbils naturally. I don't have any, yet, but I love them. What got me interested in them was a bunch that grows next door (1/4 mile away) at my 93 year old neighbors house. It just so happened when a mention was made somewhere about bulbils, I went over and checked and found them. He has had 2 clumps for the past 10+ years (so he says) and there are no strays in vacenity. So that evidense says the bulbils at his house did fair so well as they do at yours.

    Evidently there is some difference in either the climate or soil that causes such a disparity between our locations on this and several other plants. All I am interested in is getting a bunch of Tiger Lillies going in my yard here in Central Alababa, and I'm willing to take ANY advice that will help me accomplish that.

    Thanks for your posts, and concern for feelings. We can never learn in a vacuum.
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

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    Lightbulb TOM>>PLEASE READ

    I have a few good sized bulbils and flowering size bulbs to spare, if you're really interested in growing these in Alabahama(!), drop me an e-mail!

    BTW, I love my Tiger lilies! I just wish they would controll their 'children' better and keep them closer to home! Hahaha!!! Believe it or not, there was a time when I thought Tiger Lilies were the only lily around, outside of the "Easter Lily". I owe my interest in the liliy family to the Tigers! Now I have all colors of lilies, mostly Asiatic but a few Orientals and even one Regal Lily. (It was an Easter left-over from the store where I work. Pitched as dead, but I knew there was treasure beneath the soil!) I even have a "White Tiger Lily", it doesn't produce the bulbils though.



    Rebecca

  13. #13
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    Thanks Rebecca

    As I said in another thread, my neighbor has said I could dig and seperate his 10 year old clumps this fall, so I may be able to get some blooming sized bulbs right here. He is 93 and doesn't remember very well, (for that matter neither do I) but if that falls thru the crack somehow, I' call on you. Thanks for the offer.
    Tom W
    Aching Back Farm

  14. #14
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    Day Lilies or Grass

    This isn't really a reply but I am starting to think that I have been nuturing grass for the past few months. I planted tiger bulbils and I have just started to wonder what's going on under the soil as my 'tigers' seem to be making small flowers or seeds like grass ! Anyway, I dug up two and found no bulbils attached. I did find one bulbil-not attached to the 'greenery'- with 1.5 inches of roots in the 'vicinity'. My plan now is to dig the soil up in the pots, retrive the bulbils and store them in sand in the fridge until spring. I swear I can't believe this. How bad of a gardener can any one person be ? I do have golden trumpets which are clearly trumpets so I'm not 100% whacked out ! And that is why Dazed_Lily is probably an appropriate name !

  15. #15
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    Wink Tiger Lilies as vectors of disease

    Oh great, now I just read on the internet that tiger lilies can be vectors of disease and to keep them away from similar species--I assume that would include my day lilies. If this is true--off with their bulbils

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