Asiatic lily bulbs
I bought lily bulbs at a February flower show. I would like to plant them outside eventually, but would like to start them indoors. Do they need to be chilled before planting. Can I use a soil like Miracle Grow garden soil or do they need something more specialized. Should I start them now ( mid March, northern Connecticut)?
Certified GKH Gardening Expert
You can start them at any time indoors. If you purchased them from a reputable place, then it is very likely that they are ready to plant, and do not need a chill time. Any good potting soil will do. These are not very picky. This article will give you more information on the care of these: https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/bulbs/lily/planting-asiatic-lilies.htm
Asiatic lilies need a chill period of up to 12 weeks for best bloom. Many bulb producers do this for you if the bulb is intended for spring planting. The worst that will happen if the chill hasn't been done is that you won't get blooms this year. However, the bulbs should be planted. It is up to you if you want to leave some of them outside for early spring chilling, leave them indoors or plant some in the garden now. Lilies actually like cool, moist soil (spring and fall) so I'm not sure whether starting them indoors is to your advantage. Since they also like full sun, but not hot sun, be sure to mulch the area around each bulb with 2-3 inches of your favorite mulch. Neither clay nor sandy soil are good for lilies. The bulbs need moist but not wet soil. Amend your soil with peat moss and / or compost as needed. It is somewhat ironic that the same amendment is used for both heavy and sandy soils. Since it takes weeks before the bulb appears, a slow release fertilizer when the tip appears is sufficient. Not all Miracle Grow soil contains fertilizer. If your soil does then that is enough fertilizer for your pots. Add some long acting fertilizer when you plant the lilies. Asiatic lilies are summer bloomers. Think about prolonging the flower display by incorporating oriental lilies in the same bed as they bloom later in summer than asiatic lilies. Find a balanced, long-acting fertilizer. Balanced means the 3 NPK numbers are roughly the same. 10-10-10 is one example. Avoid fertilizers that have more nitrogen than the other minerals. While lots of nitrogen is needed for growing things like tomatoes, too much nitrogen favors leafy growth over flower production and bulb regeneration in lilies. Rapid growth from excessive nitrogen may also lead to floppy growth. The internet suggests that it takes 90-150 days from planting to bloom. You'll really appreciate them when they finally put on their show. As with all bulbs, it is best to remove the flower head when the petals fall off and to leave the foliage intact until it dies down and yellows naturally. This is when the bulb is being replenished after the exhausting work of flower production.