Stargazer lilies are an oriental lily belonging in the family Liliaceae. Florida gardeners will find their addition to the garden adds a dramatic effect with their large fragrant blooms. Flowers are 6 to 12 inches in diameter with white edges and pink or red centers sprinkled with maroon freckles. Hardy in USDA planting zones 4 through 10, the lily is suitable for Florida’s planting zones 8 through 10. Gardeners within the state can treat the lily as an annual or perennial, though cold storage is necessary for next season’s growth, according to the University of Florida.
Plant the stargazer lily into your Florida garden in springtime to give the bulb ample time for growth so it blooms properly in the summer.
Select an area in your Florida landscape that receives full sun throughout the majority of the day. Areas receiving morning sun and partial sun throughout the afternoon are most suitable.
Choose an area that drains well and does not have a tendency to retain water. The stargazer bulb will rot if planted in areas saturated with water. The majority of Florida’s soil is sandy, so drainage should not be a problem.
Rake the area clear of any weeds, grasses or other unwanted vegetation. The vegetation will put undue stress upon the stargazer bulb as it attempts to sprout and will rob it of much needed moisture.
Amend the planting site’s soil with a mixture of 50 percent peat, working it into the native soil to a depth of approximately 6 to 8 inches. Most Florida soil lacks organic matter and the addition of organic nutrients will promote better growth of the lily.
Work fertilizer into the planting site after amending the soil with organic material. Use a 6-6-6 or 8-8-8 fertilizer to work into the soil to a depth of approximately 6 to 8 inches. Water the area to moisten the soil.
Dig a hole that is approximately 4 to 6 inches in depth. Place the lily into the hole with the top portion facing upwards. Cover the bulb with a 2-inch layer of soil.
Water the stargazer bulb immediately after planting. Keep the planting site moist but not saturated for the first three weeks while the bulb produces foliage. Keep the area watered three to four times per week, depending on your local Florida weather conditions.
Deadhead the flowers after blooming, but do not cut the foliage back and allow it to die on the plant. This will force the plant to put energy into the bulb for next season’s growth and not into producing seeds.
Dig the stargazer bulb from the ground in late fall or early winter. Place the bulb in moist sphagnum moss and then inside a cardboard box that receives ventilation. Store the bulb in the freezer for approximately 8 weeks and thaw in the refrigerator when you are ready to plant for the next season.