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.

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