Asiatic lilies are easy to grow, require no staking and produce large, exotic blooms. Each blossom offers a heavy, sweet fragrance. A few varieties are non-scented. There are numerous flower colors available including pink, white, peach, yellow and red. Asiatic lilies offer varying degrees of size, as well. Some plants will grow 2 feet tall and others can tower 6 feet in height. The classic Asiatic lily flower shape is a trumpet in appearance. Asiatic lilies are popular for growth in northern climates because they are exceptionally cold hardy.
Asiatic lilies adore full sun on their blossoms but cool shade on their root system. The ideal way to achieve this is to plant Asiatic lilies in a location with low-growing annuals and perennials. The low-growing partner flowers will help shade the root system of the lily but as the plant grows the flower heads will sprout above the annual and perennial ground cover to reach the full sunlight.
Plant Asiatic lilies in well-drained soil. The bulbs do not like to be overly wet for an extended time period. Add organic matter, such as peat moss, to the soil at a ratio of 50 percent peat moss and 50 percent garden soil. Lilies can be planted in the spring or fall. When planting in the fall apply a 2 to 3 inches of mulch over the top of the lily bulbs to offer winter protection.
Space Asiatic lilies 8 to 12 inches apart. For the best visual flower effect, group bulbs in a mass planting of three to five lilies of the same variety together. Small lily bulbs should ideally be planted at a depth of 2 to 4 inches. Larger bulbs should be planted at a depth of 4 to 6 inches deep.
Divide Asiatic lily bulbs after three to five years. Gently dig up the bulbs and peel away the smaller baby bulbs. These can easily be transplanted to other areas of the garden for continued growth. Asiatic lilies can also be successfully grown in containers.
Fertilizing and Watering
Fertilize Asiatic lilies in the early spring. Use a fertilizer that offers abundant phosphorus. Apply a 5-10-10 fertilizer evenly around the new lily growth. Water thoroughly to work fertilizer into the soil. Water lilies in the morning. Evening watering can promote fungal growth as the water stays on the leaves in the cool night air. Botrytis blight effects Asiatic lilies by producing orange spots on the leaves. It is a fungal infection that can be prevented by maintaining dry foliage on the plants and offering ample air circulation by not overcrowding.
Flower Head Removal and Winter Preparations
Remove flower heads as they die back. Carefully remove each flower where the flower head joins with the stem so you do not effect future flower production. Never remove foliage until completely dead since this provides important continued nutrients to the bulb. Remove dead foliage in the late fall or winter by cutting off the plant at soil level. Discard the dead flower foliage.