Stargazer lilies in bloom.
image by Dogmadic:commons.wikimedia.org
Stargazer lilies are vibrant cerise pink and white blooming oriental lilies that flower in the summer and grow from underground rhizomes. They grow tall--up to 3 feet--on slim stems and when heavily in bloom will require staking to remain upright. Hardy in USDA zones 4a through 10b, long lasting and striking, stargazer lilies are a good choice for beds, borders and cutting gardens.
Plant stargazer bulbs in the spring after the last frost or in the fall at least 6 weeks before the ground freezes through. Select a location that receives full daily sun or partial afternoon shade. Provide nutrient-rich and well-drained soil to prevent standing water and rotting of the rhizome. Amend the soil with compost at planting to increase its quality.
Water your bulbs well at planting and throughout the growing season so that the soil is evenly moist. Never let stargazer bulbs or the surrounding soil dry out at this will damage the bulb. Depending on your climate and the season, watering may be required every one to three days to every eight to 10 days. Mulch over the bulbs at planting or around the base of mature plants with organic mulch material laid an inch or so thick. Mulch will keep moisture in the soil as well as keep down weeds. The best and most attractive mulch options are shredded bark, compost or cocoa hulls.
Feed your stargazer bulbs and plants twice a year with a good quality bulb fertilizer. Make the first application in the early spring when you see green shoots pop through the soil. Fertilize a second time in the fall after the flowers have all faded to recharge the bulbs and prepare for the winter. Water in the fertilizer well after application.
Stake your stargazers to keep them upright in the garden and protect them from wind or heavy rain damage. Use individual bamboo dowels the height of the stem or metal caging for large stands of blooms. Avoid jabbing the bulb when driving the stakes into the soil. Use flexible biodegradable garden ties or twine to gently secure the stems to the support.
Harvest stargazer flowers when in full mature bud or just beginning to come into bloom by cutting down at the base of the stem with clean sharp secateurs. Store in a vase of clean cool water with floral preservative or one to two drops of household chlorine bleach to keep down bacteria. Preserve the life of cut and garden blooms by pulling off the rust red pollen pods on the ends of the stamens as soon as the bud breaks open slightly. Cut down the flower stocks to the ground after the foliage has died back and recharged the bulb.