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Lilies are some of the most spectacular of all ornamental plants. These show-stopping beauties are typically seen at Easter, but their variety makes them a great addition to any home garden. Growing lilies in Australia's dry climates can be a challenge, but with a bit of dedication you can produce these gorgeous blooms anywhere in the world!
True lily species will always begin with the name lilium. Other plants with the common name "lily" are often unrelated to true lilies. Lilies are usually propagated from bulbs, although the dedicated gardener can harvest the small bulbils which appear on the plants' stems. Lilies feature six large petals unfolding from a large pod or bud. Colors vary greatly, but oranges, reds, yellows, pinks, purples and whites are the most common. You will also probably be aware that lily have a dark orange coloured pollen that ‘burst’ out from the stamen when exposed to warmth, wind or humidity. It is important to remove these stamens as soon as you can- even if it means prying the blooms open gently. This means that the pollen may not have yet had a chance to come out from the stamen, and beware, the pollen tends to stain furniture and fabric particularly if you wet it.
Lilies can grow quite tall, over two metres! Keep this in mind when choosing a place for your lilies. Since they return each year, you'll notice stronger plants with more blooms each season.
When growing lilies in Australia, plant in the fall in well-drained soil. Cover the bulbs with approximately 15cm of mulch for weather protection. Bulbs dislike excessive moisture, so don't over-water. You'll see new growth the next year; as soon as you notice new leaves, add specialized bulb fertilizer, following package directions. When watering lilies, take extra care to avoid getting water on the leaves themselves. Many species of lilies are susceptible to leaf fungi, and standing water on leaves only encourages these destructive growths.
Once your lilies are in bloom, you'll find many uses for these dramatic flowers. Easter is an obvious choice, but brightly colored lilies also make great gifts for any festive occasion.