These lilies produce some the the most exotic and showy flowers in the plant kingdom. Indeed, casual observers will often mistake the blooms for huge orchids. Oriental lily bulbs prefer slightly acid, well-drained soil. Where temperature are consistently above 90 degrees F. during the summer, plant in dappled shade or where the hot afternoon sun will be blocked.
Planting Oriental Lilies: Bulbs should have 4 to 6 inches of soil covering them. Exhibition-size™ or Private Harvest™ grades when available need to be much deeper. The old adage of "2-1/2 times the depth (of the bulb) works here. If you have heavy soil, it would be better to plant a bit more shallow or use a raised for better drainage.
Oriental Lily Production Note: Because our growing season here in the Pacific Northwest is getting shorter and shorter each year, with less heat over summer, we are finding that the Orientals simply need more time in the latter part of the season to fully harden off, and firm up for harvest. Without going into the debate over global warming / cooling / climate change, we have found that the Oriental lilies on our farm are emerging later (a month or more than in the past) in the spring each year due to the excessive, prolonged cold along with heavy rains, and though blooming normally in July/August, they are not starting to fully firm up for safe digging until mid or late October. Leaves are staying green until much later than usual, which means the lily bulbs are still using them to grow a bigger bulb.
Fortunately, these cooler growing seasons have not affected Asiatic, Trumpet, or Orienpet hybrids and they are thriving during our cold wet springs and cooler summers, which now seem to be the norm for Western Washington State. The last two years we have had only 4 to 6 weeks of what would be considered “warm” temperatures, which is a case of too little, and too late for early harvest. While the pure Orientals are not maturing early enough, Asiatic, Trumpets and Orienpets have been surpassing harvest predictions. This same trend of cooler springs in Holland is also why much of the Dutch growing of Oriental lilies now takes place in the Bordeaux region of France, plus in Chili where summers are warmer and more conducive to producing Oriental bulbs than is now Holland. Lily bulbs left until after first frost in October are not only plump and juicy, but they have fully formed noses and are ready to go, which is too late for most of our customers to safely plant before winter.
Rather than fight Mother Nature, Oriental lilies are now being scheduled for harvest November and December only - after our fall shipping is completed - in order to insure the highest quality bulbs for all our customers. This means that only Asiatic, Trumpet and Orienpet lilies will be offered in the fall and our Orientals will only be offered for spring planting. Please note that the difference between the same lily bulb planted in fall vs. spring, is that the spring planted bulbs will be about 20% shorter and about 10 to 14 days later to bloom the first season, and will adjust to normal height and flowering times the following summer.