Scaling lilies

Lily bulbs will shortly be available. Instead of just planting them, why not try scaling them – a good method of getting some plants for free?

Simply snap off some of the outer scales, as shown in the picture – you can then plant the whole bulb as normal. Dust the scales with fungicide, then bag them up with some moist compost (or peat) and perlite. (The fungicide is important, as it stops the scales from rotting.)

It's easy to remove outer scales from a dormant lily bulb

Put the bags somewhere warm and dark. In a few weeks, new bulblets will be appearing at the flat end of each scale. You can then pot these up, three to five to a 7.5cm pot. Grow them on, then repot in the autumn. They’ll reach flowering size in two or three years. There are more details in my February newsletter.

Incidentally, if you grow lilies in pots, water them from the word go – allow them to dry out, and they may not flower. You can stop watering after flowering.

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