Idaho may be known for its many wildflowers, including the Syringa, Idaho's State Flower, but many people enjoy using plants other than wildflowers in their gardens, including several varieties of lily. These lilies were growing in one of the most extensive and beautiful gardens I have seen in North Idaho. Lilies are primarily native to temperate climates in the northern hemisphere, but will grow in many different regions. There are over 100 species of lily, and many hybrids available. Lilies grow from scaly bulbs, typically planted in autumn. Large bulbs should typically be buried about five inches deep, with the soil loosened to a depth of at least ten inches. Small bulbs (less than 3" in diameter) should be buried to a depth of about three or four inches. The bulbs are never fully dormant, so it is a good idea to plant them as soon as you bring them home.
Lilies don't require special soil, but they do best in porous, rapidly-draining soil. If water will stand on top of the soil, it is not a good condition for your bulbs and may cause rot. If your soil contains too much clay, just add a little sand, peat moss, or compost to help drainage. Depending on the variety of lily, you should start seeing shoots in early spring, possibly even before the last frost, and blooms from May through September. When blooming is over, remember to remove the seed pod, but to leave most of the stem and foliage in order to promote the bulb's health for even more flowers next year. Immature bulbs can take 2-3 years before producing flowers.
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