Q&A: When should I plant lilies?

Q: I have some lily bulbs. When should I plant them?

Lily flowers

A: Normally, you’d plant lilies in autumn when the soil is still warm, but sometimes things get in the way and the job doesn’t get done.

Don’t despair – you can still have lilies blooming beautifully in your garden this summer.

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Even if the soil is too wet or too frozen, unpack a pot and plant a few lily bulbs in it. Plant three or four healthy bulbs in a decent-sized pot, and keep them somewhere frost-free. Keep the compost watered and happy until it’s time to move them into the great outdoors, then plant them in the beds and borders where you want them to bring a dash of exotic summer colour.

Alternatively, keep them in the pot and give yourself a movable feast.

Nowadays, the majority are grown in this way because the gardener can provide them with the ideal conditions – a well-drained, fertile soil and a sunny position.

They will flower slightly earlier than those lilies grown in open ground, but they will require more care and attention. Always try to plant the bulbs as soon as you get them, incorporating plenty of well-rotted leafmould or manure, and a helping of coarse sand.