Expert Tips and Tricks for Growing Lilies in the Winter Season


When it comes to planting lilies, there are various species and climates to consider. However, what happens when winter arrives? How can you winterize your lilies to ensure they survive the cold temperatures? In this article, we will discuss expert tips and tricks on how to protect your lilies during the winter season.

One common method is to store your lilies in pots. Before the first frost hits, you can dig up the lily bulbs and place them in containers or bags filled with a mixture of sand and peat moss. The lilies should be stored in a cool, dark area with temperatures staying between 35-45 degrees Fahrenheit. This can be in a garage, basement, or any other place that doesn’t freeze.

If you prefer to keep your lilies outdoors, another option is to mulch them. After the first hard frost, cut back the foliage and cover the lily bed with a layer of straw or mulch. This will provide insulation and protect the bulbs from extreme cold temperatures.

For those lucky enough to live in warmer climates, where the ground never freezes, overwintering lilies may not be necessary. In these regions, lilies can simply be left in the ground, as they will go dormant during the colder months and sprout new foliage in the spring. However, it is still important to know the specific care requirements for each lily species, as there are both hardy and non-hardy varieties.

It is always a good idea to consult with a local expert or nursery to get more information about the specific lilies you have in your garden. They can provide guidance on how to best care for your lilies during the winter months, as well as tips on planting and maintenance throughout the year.

Remember, lilies are a beautiful addition to any garden, and with the right care, they can thrive for many years. Take the necessary steps to protect your lilies during the winter, and you will be rewarded with healthy and vibrant blooms come springtime.

Overwintering Lilies – Do Lily Bulbs Need To Be Overwintered

When it comes to overwintering lilies, there are a few important things to keep in mind. Lily bulbs are more often used to save tropicals and non-hardy species, but it is also sometimes done for hardy lilies too. In this article, we will have a look at whether lily bulbs need to be overwintered and provide some expert tips and tricks on how to do it successfully.

Why Overwinter Lily Bulbs?

Lilies are mostly winter hardy and have the ability to spread through their bulbs. However, some species, especially those sold as tropicals or non-hardy varieties, need to be protected from the harsh winter temperatures.

The main reason to overwinter lily bulbs is to ensure their survival through the winter so that they can bloom again the following year. Overwintering also allows you to move lilies to different locations in the garden or store them in containers or pots.

How to Overwinter Lily Bulbs

To overwinter lily bulbs, you will need to follow a few simple steps:

  1. Cut back the foliage: Once the lily plants have finished blooming and the foliage starts to yellow, carefully cut it back to the ground. Removing the foliage promotes bulb formation and prevents diseases.
  2. Prepare the bulbs for winter: Dig up the lily bulbs and gently brush off excess soil. If the bulbs are in containers or pots, move them to a warmer location, like a garage or basement, where temperatures won’t drop below freezing. For bulbs planted in the ground, carefully lift them out of the soil using a garden fork.
  3. Clean and store the bulbs: After removing the bulbs from the soil, clean them by gently shaking off any remaining soil. Inspect the bulbs for damage or signs of diseases and discard any that are unhealthy. Store the healthy bulbs in a cool, dry place like a paper bag or tupperware container. For extra protection, you can also wrap the bulbs in dry straw or sand.
  4. Keep an eye on the bulbs: Throughout the winter, check on the stored bulbs regularly to make sure they are not sprouting prematurely or getting too damp. If you notice any signs of sprouting, move the bulbs to a colder location. If the bulbs start to feel soft or mushy, they are likely rotting and should be discarded.
  5. Plant the bulbs in spring: As the weather starts to warm up and the threat of frost has passed, you can plant the overwintered lily bulbs back in the garden. Choose a sunny spot with well-draining, lime-free soil for best results.

By following these tips and tricks, you can successfully overwinter your lily bulbs and ensure they bloom again next year. Whether you have hardy or non-hardy lilies, overwintering is an easy way to save and preserve these beautiful plants through the winter.

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Overwintering Lilies - Do Lily Bulbs Need To Be Overwintered

How to Care for a Lily Plant Over Winter

During the winter months, lilies become dormant and require special care to ensure their survival. Here are some expert tips and tricks to help you care for your lily plants over winter:

1. Selecting the Right Lily Variety

When choosing lilies, it’s important to consider their hardiness zone. Some lilies are more tolerant of cold temperatures than others. Always check the hardiness zone and select a variety that is suitable for your climate.

2. Digging up the Lily Bulbs

In late July or early August, when the lilies have withered, it’s time to dig up the bulbs. Gently lift the plant out of the ground, being careful not to damage the tubers. Shake off any excess soil and remove any dead or rotting parts.

3. Preparing the Bulbs for Winter

After digging up the lily bulbs, carefully wash them to remove any remaining soil. Allow them to dry in a warm and dry location. Once dry, place the bulbs in paper bags or containers filled with sand or vermiculite. Store the bags or containers in a cool dark place, like a basement or cellar.

4. Winterizing Non-Hardy Lily Species

If you have non-hardy lilies, such as tropicals, you will need to take extra measures to ensure their survival. Cut back the foliage and place the tubers in Tupperware containers filled with slightly damp peat or perlite. Store the containers in a warm and dark place, like a heated garage or closet.

5. Overwintering Lily Plants Indoors

If you prefer to keep your lilies indoors over winter, you can pot them up and bring them inside. Use a well-draining potting soil and place the pots in a sunny location. Keep the soil moist but not soggy. Remember to rotate the pots regularly to ensure even growth.

6. Providing Care During Dormancy

While in dormancy, lilies require very little care. However, it’s important to check on them regularly to ensure they are not drying out or becoming overly damp. If the soil feels dry, lightly water the bulbs. If the soil feels wet, allow it to dry out before watering again.

7. Replanting Lilies in Spring

In late winter or early spring, when the risk of frost has passed, it’s time to replant the lily bulbs. Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil. Make sure to plant the bulbs at the correct depth, with the pointed end facing up. Water the newly planted bulbs thoroughly and continue to care for them as they grow.

By following these tips and tricks, you can ensure that your lily plants survive the winter and bloom beautifully in the spring.

Key Words: Meaning:
winterize Prepare for winter
dormant Inactive or resting phase
tubers Underground swollen stem or root
non-hardy Not tolerant of cold temperatures
frost Freezing temperature

How to Store Lilies

Storing lilies for the winter can be an easy and rewarding task. By properly storing your lilies, you can ensure that they will survive the colder months and bloom again in the spring. Here are some expert tips and tricks to help you overwinter your lilies:

Step 1: Timing is Key

The first step in overwintering your lilies is to know when to dig them up. Wait until the foliage has turned yellow and started to die down. This is usually around late summer or early fall.

Step 2: Digging and Cleaning

Once your lilies have gone dormant, carefully dig them up using a garden fork or shovel. Be sure to dig deep enough to get the entire root system. Gently shake off any excess soil, but do not wash the roots as this can damage them.

Step 3: Storage Container

Choose a suitable storage container for your lilies. Tupperware or plastic containers with perforated lids work well. Line the bottom of the container with some paper towels or newspaper to help absorb any excess moisture.

Step 4: Bulb Placement

Place your lily bulbs in the container, making sure they are not touching each other. If you have multiple varieties, consider labeling them to easily identify them when it’s time to replant.

Step 5: Storage Location

Store your lilies in a cool, dry location that stays above freezing. A basement or garage that does not freeze works well. Avoid storing them near fruits or vegetables that release ethylene gas, as this can cause premature aging or wilting of the bulbs.

Step 6: Check and Water

Check on your stored lilies periodically throughout the winter. If they appear to be drying out, lightly mist them with water to keep them hydrated. Be careful not to overwater as this can cause rotting.

Step 7: Replanting in the Spring

As the winter months start to come to an end and the danger of frost has passed, it’s time to replant your lilies. Choose a sunny location with well-draining soil. Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the entire root system of the lily bulb, and plant it with the flare of the tuber at or slightly above soil level. Water the newly planted lily well.

By following these tips and tricks, you can easily store and overwinter your lilies, ensuring they stay healthy and ready to grow and spread their fragrant flowers for many more years to come.

What to Do After Overwintering Lilies

After overwintering lilies, it’s important to know what steps to take to ensure the health and beauty of your plants. Here are some expert tips and tricks to help you care for your lilies after winter:

Assess and Remove Withered or Yellow Leaves

Inspect your lilies for any withered or yellow leaves. Remove them carefully to encourage healthy growth. These leaves might be a sign of a lack of sunlight or inadequate watering during the winter. By removing them, you allow the plant to focus its energy on new growth.

Choose the Right Day and Time for Planting

Choose a sunny day with mild temperatures to plant your lilies. This will give them the best chance to acclimate to their new environment and establish strong roots.

Prepare the Soil

Before planting your lilies, prepare the soil by adding organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. This will improve the soil’s fertility and drainage, creating an ideal growing environment for your plants.

Planting Lilies in the Garden

If you’re planting lilies in the garden, choose a spot with well-draining soil and partial shade. Lilies prefer slightly acidic, lime-free soil. Dig a hole, place the bulbs or tubers about 3 inches below the soil surface, and cover them with soil. Water the plants well after planting.

Planting Lilies in Containers

For gardeners with limited space or wanting to enjoy lilies indoors, planting lilies in containers is a great option. Use soilless potting mix and plant the bulbs or tubers in containers with drainage holes. Place the containers in a sunny area, preferably near a window. Water the plants regularly, making sure the soil is moist but not waterlogged.

Watering and Mulching

Proper watering is essential for the health of your overwintered lilies. Water the plants regularly, especially during dry spells. Apply a layer of mulch around the plants to help retain moisture and suppress weed growth.

Save Bulbs and Tubers for Next Winter

If you want to save bulbs or tubers for next winter, cut the stems after the flowers have faded and leave them in the ground until they naturally wither and yellow. Gently dig them up and let them dry in a warm, well-ventilated area. Store them in a cool, dry place in paper bags or cardboard boxes until it’s time to plant them again in early winter.

Following these steps will help ensure that your lilies continue to thrive and produce beautiful blooms year after year. For more information on overwintering lilies and various species and cultivars, refer to the source of this article.

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Dr Heidi Parkes

By Dr Heidi Parkes

Senior Information Extension Officer QLD Dept of Agriculture & Fisheries.