This section is from the book "The Gardener V2", by William Thomson. Also available from Amazon: The New Organic Grower: A Master's Manual of Tools and Techniques for the Home and Market Gardener.
This is a grand and much-admired genus of bulbous plants. They are beautiful mixed-border subjects, the taller species being fine background plants, and the dwarfer ones in fitting positions are equally telling and desirable in mixed arrangements. The strong growers are also beautiful objects when planted amongst dwarf shrubs, in such a way as that their inflorescence may be seen overtopping the shrubs. And they are so easy to cultivate in any position, that there is no obstacle in the way of their being generally adopted for any of the purposes indicated. They like light, warm, rich loams best, with a good deal of slowly-decomposable vegetable matter in them, and do worst in heavy clays or close tenacious loams and poor sandy soils. They are especially fond of peat, and when plenty of it is available, it matters little what may be the nature or texture of the soil if the drainage is good, because a free admixture of peat and sand will make the compost all that is required for them. The Lilies should be lifted and replanted every three or four years, but not oftener than every three years, for mere cultural reasons; although, if they are not allowed to lie too long out of the ground, they may be lifted every year, if considerations of arrangement or other circumstances should require such a course.
The best time for lifting and replanting Lilies is in the autumn, when the stems have become ripe; and, as before stated, the roots should not be allowed to lie about exposed to the weather, but be replanted as soon as possible. There is a popular notion that bulbs at rest cannot be injured by being exposed to the sun and air for a length of time; and so far as bulbs of the type of Gladiolus, Hyacinth, and Tulip are concerned, the notion is well enough founded; but with bulbs of a scaly nature, of which those of the Lily are the type, it is different, for they suffer very much indeed by great and continued exposure; and hence the frequent failures in bought bulbs which may have been long and badly stored in the shops. The bulbs should be planted from 4 to 6 inches deep, according to the climate of the locality and the character of the soil. If the climate and soil are wet and cold, the bulbs should be placed the deeper, and if they are warm and light, they will be safe at the shallowest figure; but the greater depth will protect them from any frost we are likely to experience in this country.
Additional precaution may, however, be taken with the more rare species and varieties, till they become more plentiful, by laying some protecting material, such as old tan, stable-litter, coal-ashes, or, where it is available, old peat, to the depth of several inches over the place occupied by the roots; but, indeed, even when not required for the purpose of protection, a mulching of a manurial kind is advisable, as it gives additional strength to the plants. Lilies are in fact gross feeders, and make a handsome return for generous diet. They are increased by offsets from the bulbs, which are in most species freely produced. Certain species also, such as L. bulbiferum and L. tigrinum, produce bulbils in the axils of the leaves, by means of which they may be freely increased if they are planted in a rich bed in a well-sheltered border.
A very handsome and well-known plant in gardens. It has been productive of some good varieties, but the variations, from a floricultural point of view, consist chiefly in slight differences of stature and shades of colour; and those of stature are in some cases at least more the result of soil and culture than fixed peculiarities of nature. It grows from 2 to 3 or more feet high. The stems are clothed with lance-shaped leaves disposed rather irregularly. The flowers are erect, open, bell-shaped, and marked inside with rough wart-like processes, and are deep orange-red. Flowers in June and July. Native of southern Europe and the Levant.
A beautiful species, growing 3 or 4 feet high. The stems are clothed with oval lance-shaped leaves arranged in whorls. The flowers are nodding or pendulous and bell-shaped, and the segments are somewhat reflexed; in colour they are pale orange, spotted with deep purplish brown. Flowers in July and August. Native of Canada.
This is one of the commonest species in gardens. It grows about 3 feet high, producing the greatest abundance of its leaves at the roots and base of the stems. They are broadly lance-shaped, diminishing in size as they ascend the stem, and are arranged in a scattered alternate manner. The flowers are pure white, with no warts internally; are erect or nearly so, long, bell-shaped, and open, but slightly if at all reflexed at the mouth. Native of the Levant. Flowers in June and July. There is a double-flowered form in gardens under the name Lilium candidum flore-pleno, and there are two or three sorts with different styles of variegated leaves, and there is a flowerless form which produces in the place of the flowers a spiral spike of lance-shaped pure-white leaves or bracts, which is more curious than ornamental.
A very distinct species from Carolina. It grows about 18 inches or 2 feet high. The stems are clothed with narrow, lance-shaped leaves, irregularly and alternately disposed. The flowers are erect, large, and open, with reflexed segments, yellow and spotted with dark brown in the centre, and shading into deep red towards the extremities of the segments. Flowers in July and August.
This is an old inhabitant of gardens. It grows from 3 to 4 feet high. The stems are well clothed with flat lance-shaped leaves. The flowers are pendulous, with much-reflexed segments, and are bright red or scarlet; they open in July and August. Native of the Levant.
This species resembles Lilium bulbiferum in its large, erect, open, bell-shaped flowers, which are deep red, yellowish in the centre, and dark-spotted. The leaves are lance-shaped, and the plant grows 2 or 3 feet high. The flowers appear in July and August. Native of Dahuria.
This species grows about 18 inches or 2 feet high, with shining lance-shaped leaves. The flowers are large, long, and bell-shaped, with spreading, but not reflexed, segments; they are rather, dull white externally, but very pure white inside, and warted towards the base. Flowers in June. Native of China. There are some varieties of this species characterised by differences of stature and the size of the flowers, but, so far as I am aware, there is no variation in the colour.
This is another old inhabitant of gardens, and is pretty well known under the name Turk's-Cap Lily. It grows about 3 feet high. The leaves are oval, lance-shaped, arranged on the stems in whorls. The flowers are pendulous, with much-reflexed segments, and are usually purplish red or livid red; and there is a white-flowered form also. Flowers in July and August. Native of Germany, France, and Italy.
This species grows about 3 feet high. The leaves are lance-shaped, clothing the stems rather thickly. The flowers are pendulous, pale yellow, or lemon-coloured, and spotted in the centre with deep red; the segments are reflexed. The stamens are, as the name implies, monadelphous, or united at the base. Flowers in July. Native of the Caucasus.
This species grows about 4 feet high. The leaves are in whorls. The flowers are erect, open, bell-shaped, deep orange shading to yellow, and becoming spotted in the centre with dark-purple spots, and the segments taper below into longish stalks. Flowers in July and August. Native of North America.
This species grows about 3 feet high. The leaves are narrow, lance-shaped, blunt below, but becoming shorter and narrower and sharply pointed above. The flowers are pendulous, the segments reflexed and warted internally towards the base. Native of Siberia and south-eastern Europe. Flowers in June.
This species grows about 2 or 3 feet high. The leaves are narrow, lance-shaped; the flowers are pendulous, and warted and dotted internally, and yellow; the segments are reflexed and narrow, and bluntly lance-shaped. Flowers in June and July. Native of the Pyrenees.
A very dwarf species, attaining only 1 foot or 18 inches high. The leaves are narrow, lance-shaped, and scattered alternately on the stems. The flowers are pendulous, the segments much reflexed, and bright red or scarlet. They appear in June and July. Native of Siberia.
This is related to Lilium bulbiferum, and bears considerable resemblance to it. It grows about 18 inches or 2 feet high. The leaves are lance-shaped, increasing in length as they ascend the stem, and are crowded or whorl-like under the flowers. The flowers are large, open, bell-shaped, with spreading slightly-reflexed segments, are bright orange, but nearly destitute of the warts that are so conspicuous in the Orange Lily. There are many varieties of this species, some of which are to be seen in catalogues and gardens under the specific names, Lilium atrosanguineum, Lilium venustum, and Lilium fulgens, and there are other varieties distinguished by different shades of colour, by spots, and the degrees of prominence in the warts; and there is a double-flowered form of deep colour, very handsome, but both it and some of the others are yet rare and expensive. Flowers in July and August. Native of Japan.
This is one of the most common species. It grows 3 or 4 feet high; the leaves are lance-shaped, alternate, clothing the stem rather thinly. The flowers are pendulous, and the segments much reflexed, warted internally, and bright salmon-red with dark-brown spots. Of this species there are also several varieties, some of which are yet rare and expensive. Flowers in July and August. Native of China.