Saturday, April 7, 2012
Dumb Luck Trumps Skill Again
Last October, when the lily bulbs were being prepared for the winter, there were more bulbs than could be handled. An act of managed desperation sent four pots of L. longiflorum bulbs to a spot near the foundation of the house. We thought that we would give forcing bulbs a try. Early in January the first pot was pulled from the ground and placed on the basement floor out of direct light. After about two weeks a sprout appeared and the second pot was brought in from the cold. The growing lily was moved upstairs to the south facing window in the bedroom. It soon became apparent that the lilies would grow. When they would flower was completely unknown to us.
We will have an open flower for Easter. The yellow anthers have been pulled in memory of my mother. She preferred her lily flowers pure white unstained by pollen. This flower appeared about ninety days after the pot was removed from the frozen ground. No records were kept so we do not know if the later pulled pots will flower on a different schedule.
This third pulled pot contains the absolute best plant ever grown here. Three flower buds are a record for us. It is likely that these pots did not contain our best bulbs since we had no idea if our plan would work. Next year the bulbs selected for forcing will be our best. One large bulb to flower and three daughter bulbs to grow out will be placed in each pot.
The Easter Lily is hardy only to zone 7. We knew that our zone 4 winters could take these lilies at any time. Forcing is a way to hedge our bets. Near the house foundation on the south facing wall has to be worth a zone or two. Moving the lilies inside before the wildly changeable spring weather really improves their chances. When June brings us stable weather, these lilies will be planted out in the garden. They can mature in more natural conditions and then the cycle will start again.