Lilies are undoubtedly one of the most captivating and elegant flowers found in gardens and bouquets around the world. Their exquisite blooms, vibrant colors, and enchanting fragrance make them a popular choice among gardeners and flower enthusiasts. While lilies bloom for a relatively short period, proper care after flowering can ensure their longevity, allowing these showy ornamental plants to grace your garden for many years to come. In this article, we will explore the essential steps to take to care for lilies after they have finished blooming.
1. Deadheading: Once the lilies have finished flowering, it is essential to remove the faded blooms to prevent the plants from producing seeds. This process is known as deadheading. By removing the spent flowers, you redirect the plant’s energy from seed production to bulb development, promoting a healthier and stronger plant for the next growing season. To deadhead lilies, simply cut the faded flower heads just above the nearest healthy leaf or bud.
2. Allow Foliage to Wither Naturally: After deadheading, allow the foliage to wither and turn yellow naturally. The leaves play a vital role in the lily’s growth process, capturing sunlight and converting it into energy that is stored in the bulb for future growth. By allowing the foliage to wither naturally, you enable the plant to replenish its energy reserves, ensuring a robust and vibrant display in the following year.
3. Avoid Cutting Back Green Leaves: Although it may be tempting to tidy up the garden by cutting back the green leaves, it is crucial to resist the urge. Green leaves are still actively photosynthesizing and providing energy to the bulb. Cutting them prematurely can weaken the plant and inhibit its ability to store enough energy for the next growing season. Once the foliage has completely withered and turned brown, you can trim it back to ground level.
4. Watering: Lilies prefer moist soil, especially during their active growth period. After flowering, continue to water the plants regularly until the foliage starts to die back. Adequate moisture will allow the bulb to absorb nutrients and store energy for the following year. However, be cautious not to overwater, as excessive moisture can lead to rotting. Maintain a balance by ensuring the soil remains evenly moist but not waterlogged.
5. Fertilization: Fertilizing lilies after flowering is essential to replenish the nutrients in the soil and support healthy bulb development. Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer around the base of the plants, following the manufacturer’s instructions. This will provide a steady supply of nutrients over an extended period, ensuring the lilies have everything they need for optimal growth and bloom in the future.
6. Mulching: Applying a layer of organic mulch around the lily plants can offer several benefits. Mulch helps retain moisture in the soil, prevents weed growth, and regulates soil temperature. In colder regions, it also provides insulation and protects the bulbs from freezing during winter. Use a layer of mulch approximately 2-4 inches thick, ensuring it does not touch the stem or foliage directly.
7. Dividing and Transplanting: Over time, lily bulbs can become overcrowded, leading to diminished flowering. To maintain healthy and vigorous plants, consider dividing and transplanting them every three to four years. The best time to divide lilies is in the early fall or spring when they are dormant. Carefully dig up the bulbs, separate the offsets (small bulbs attached to the main bulb), and replant them at a proper spacing, taking care not to damage the roots.
By following these essential care practices, you can ensure the long-term health and beauty of your lilies. With proper deadheading, allowing
natural withering, appropriate watering, fertilization, and occasional division, these stunning ornamental plants will continue to grace your garden with their showy blooms for many years to come. Enjoy the process of caring for your lilies and anticipate the joy they will bring in future growing seasons.