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Planting Lilies

Martha Stewart Living Television

Finding the perfect lily for your garden can be a problem. There are close to a hundred species and several times that number of varieties from which to choose. In her Turkey Hill garden, Martha planted 'Casa Nova' and 'Casa Blanca' in the fall for a late-summer bloom. For an earlier bloom, she chose a variety called 'Pink Perfection,' a trumpet-shaped, scented flower that comes in deep purplish red or purple pink with bright orange anthers. If you receive your lily bulbs through the mail (in either the spring or the fall), plant them shortly after they arrive. If you can't plant them right away, store them in a cool place, such as a garage or refrigerator. Unlike daffodil or tulip bulbs, lily bulbs never go fully dormant. So handle them very carefully, and never let them dry out.

To determine if your soil drains well enough to plant lily bulbs, dig a hole about a foot deep, and fill it with water. Your soil is fine if the hole drains well within an hour. If not, an eight- to ten-inch raised bed is a good solution.

Lily bulbs vary in size. In some species the bulb can be as small as a marble, while some trumpet hybrids are the size of a grapefruit. Whatever their size, like most bulbs, lilies should be planted at a depth of three times their diameter. Choose a well-draining area with plenty of organic matter. Lilies commonly prefer neutral to slightly acidic soil. Use a bulb planter to make a hole, plant bulb roots down, and cover with topsoil. Apply a complete fertilizer when the stem first appears and again just before it flowers.