Monday, March 30, 2009

Lily Propagation by Scales-Week 2

It has now been 2 weeks since the scales were first taken, washed and placed into a container. So far not a lot of growth is showing. The scales are still nice and plump and white. The spots where they were taken from the bulbs are browning a little but I think this is just a callous forming and some healing of the scale to a degree. On 2 of the scales that were cut shorter in height there are the smallest of bumps forming at the top edge. For some reason I thought the first bit of growth would be closer to the base of the scale. The bumps are very small and white. This is the first growth soon to form little bulbs. So there is not really a lot to continue to say at this stage.

If you would like to see how I started this project you can read the first blog post on Lily Scale Propagation.

I will be back to this with a bit more information in about 2 weeks from now. Hopefully there is enough growth showing to get a good photograph to share.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Lily Leaf Cuttings

The idea of starting lilies from leaf cuttings is an odd one but not impossible. I gave this a first try last summer after reading an article on how the Easter lily (lilium longiflorum) could be propagated by leaf cuttings. To me it made some sense when you look at some of the species lilies. There are a few species lilies that produce bulblets along the stem in the leaf axles. There in that spot as the stem is growing there is a lot of cells multiplying rapidly. So why not give it a try and use what naturally happens in the plant to try and make more lilies. A little bit of help and timing maybe the trick to making it work.

What you need to try this is:

- resealable bags
- damp per lite or peat moss
- rooting hormone

When to do this seems to be the key trick to it all. The best time to try it is when the stems are actively growing and getting close to showing the first signs of the flower buds. This is when the cells of the plant are multiplying the fastest and can be easier to coax into forming new lily bulbs.

Make sure you remove the leaf close to the stem. Clean it from and dust or soil that may be on it. Dip about 1/4 of an inch of the base of the leaf, the closest part to the stem, into the rooting hormone. Next place the cuttings into the bag sticking the end with the rooting hormone into the damp per lite or peat moss. Then move it to a warm and well lit spot. Check it on regular basis so that the leaf and medium never fully dry out. in about 6 to 10 weeks you should start to see small bumps or small bulbs starting to form. Once the bulb has gotten to a good size you will see a root or two start to form and grow. Any time after the roots start to show you can then move it into a potting soil and grow on before moving it into the garden.

So far I have only had luck with the L.A. hybrid lilies. Last season the Asiatic and Martagon lilies were to far along in the season for this to work. It would be interesting to know what other lily varieties and species this will work for and how quickly it will produce bulbs.

This year I will be trying this on Martagon lilies and Asiatic lilies as well as a few other species that I have collected.

I would also like to know if any one else has tried this and what kind of luck they have had?

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Lilies From Seed

Growing lilies from seed can be enjoyable and easy. The seed of lilies are easy to handle and fall into two different groups. Epigeal and hypogeal germination are the two basic groups that lily seeds fall into. Epigeal germination is quicker to start taking any where between two and ten weeks to start showing the first leaf. Hypogeal germination is slower and often a delayed starter. Hypogeal seeds usually start slow with only a root and a small bulb forming before needing a cold period. Once they go through a cold period of rest the will begin to grow and push the first leaf up out of the soil. With over 80 species of lilies from all over the world the hardest part is what lily to start with and the next one to try.

I am going to go through the very basics of starting the epigeal seed first.

What you will need to start lilies from seed is:

- Pots or trays that 4 to 6 inches deep

- Moistened potting soil

- Tags and a water proof marker

- plastic wrap or other clear plastic to cover

-A warm window and some water
The first thing you start with is add some moist soil to your pots or tray to with in 1 inch of the top and lightly firm evening out the surface. spread the seeds out evenly over the soil then cover with about 1/4 inch of soil. lightly firm up the covering soil and give a light watering. Next mark on the tag the name of the lily and the date, and place it into the pot or tray. Cover with your plastic wrap, this will help keep the soil and seeds from drying out to fast. Then it is off to a warm window.
You will see some growth in 3 to 6 weeks depending on the variety of lily you are starting, some can take up to 10 weeks to start showing any life.

The photos you see here are lily seeds I have just started. The species lily is the coral lily - lilium pumilum. A very easy lily to start and they usually show growth very quickly.

I will have a few updated pictures as these lilies start growing and progressing.

I am always interested in trying out other methods to see if I can find a better and quicker way to get more lilies started. So what kind of tricks do you use to get lilies started from seed?

Friday, March 13, 2009

Lily Scale Propagation

I started out the day by checking on a bunch of martagon lily scales that were started between September and October 2008. Right now they are hiding away in a spare fridge for a three month cold period. Near the end of April I will be removing them and planting them up into pots and trays to get them to wake up and grow. Once they have greened up and started getting some size to them I will then move them out into the garden for the summer.
This photo is a martagon lily started on peat moss.
How I have done this in the past is very simple. I start out with a hand full of scales from a lily I would like to have more of, some damp per lite, plastic bags, a sharp knife, a marker, and some rooting hormone. I use STIM-Root #1, this is in a powdered form and is good for soft tissue cuttings or green cutting's. This spring I am trying out the newer gel form of the Stim-Root rooting hormone, it has a fungicide mixed in and looks to give a better coating. I am curious to see if it works better and faster at producing the little bulbs at the end of the lily scales.

How I do this is :

1. Wash the scales in water with a few drops of bleach.

2. Dampen the per lite and place it in the bags or other seal able containers.

3. Trim the scales of any damaged spots.

4. If the scale is nice and wide I will put one to two notches on the bottom edge.

5. Dip scales in to rooting hormone, covering only about 1/4 inch of the base.

6. Place into the damp per lite about 1/2 of the length of the scale, and space evenly.

7. Seal the bag or container once all the scales are in.

8. Write the name of the lily, the date and the year.

9. Place in a warm dark spot for about three months, checking every week or two for moisture or and rot.

10. After about three months you will see some roots and small bulbs that need a cold little nap for another 3 months.

This is how easy it can be to get more of your favorite lilies started. This is a tried and true method of propagating lilies that was shown to me close to 10 years ago. The only thing that was added was the use of rooting hormones like Stim-Root from what I was originally shown and it has never failed, for me, to produce little lily bulbs.

One of the things I am now trying for the first time is doing this in the spring with new lily bulbs. I am also going to try cutting the scales in half, through the middle to shorten the scales and give me double the amount to work with. Taking less material for the bulbs as they are getting ready to start new spring growth. This idea came from reading an article in the North American Lily Societies Quarterly news letter. The article that got me thinking was written by Charles Robinson for the Ontario Regional Lily Society. The article first appeared in the Ontario Regional Lily Societies news letter on September 17, 1979. It has been recently re-published by The North American Lily Society in two parts in their December 2008 and March 2009 Quarterly Bulletin news letter.

I will be posting updates of the spring scale trial over the next 6 to 10 weeks every two weeks. So that I can keep track of the progress and share how it is working out. Once the scales from last fall are ready to be potted up I will have some progress on how they are doing as well.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

The Weather

Well what can I say about the weather. The last 7 days has seen a real change in the weather going from just above freezing to the - 30 Celsius range. Last Thursday we had high winds and snow that created a lot of large drifts. This slowed a lot of things down. Then again Saturday night we had another dump of snow and lots of wind. So back to the shovel to clear paths to the greenhouses and to the car. We are now slowly starting to warm up again with promises of above freezing temperatures by the weekend. All our new bulbs are now in and just waiting for the time to start shipping for the spring mail orders, potting up for the greenhouse sales and new homes in the garden. We have about 2000 new bulbs to pass around and plant up in total. We are going to try spring scaling a few lily bulbs to build up our stock for the future. I will try and post pictures and progress updates as the season rolls on. In about a month from now I should be taking a batch of martagon lily scales out of the cold treatment part of their cycle and planting them up into pots or trays. once they have had some time to grow and the final frosts of the year have past they will head out to the garden.
So if March has come in like a lion here is hoping it goes out like a lamb.

Monday, March 2, 2009

Spring is near

Well the last week or so we have been starting to get ready for spring. Cleaning up the greenhouse, checking on seedlings, getting seeds ready and into place to plant soon. The first shipment of new lily bulbs arrived on Friday February 27Th, and they look very clean and ready to start growing. They will have to sit about 2 more weeks though, the greenhouse will need to warm up and potting soil needs to thaw a bit. Once I have my main computer back from being repaired I will be trying to put together a slide show of the martagon lilies that are in the catalogue for this season, as well as a slide show of the asiatic lilies.
I will also be working on a short wright up of one of the trials I am working on with lilies from leaf cuttings. I did a first time try last season a bit late in the year to get good results and will be trying this again earlier in the season, with hopefully more success. I will also start a online photo gallery of how it is proceeding as well as a following a bunch of martagon lily scales that are now in the cold rest period.

Hope all are having a good winter.