Lilies are absolutely gorgeous flowers that have been very popular with green-fingered enthusiasts for many years.
The moniker lily – or lilium – refers to a genus of herbaceous flowering plants that grow from bulbs and they are all characterised by very large and prominent flowers.
Its Latin binominal name lilium is derived from the Greek word leirion. The flowers are so old that this word was used to describe the plant in ancient times.
Many species of the genus are native to temperate and sub-tropical regions – although they have also become commonly sold as potted plants. Herbaceous borders, woodland and shrub plantings and patios are some of the places where they are most frequently grown.
While they are typically associated with the warmer summer months as a result of these traits, there is no reason why keen growers cannot get planting them early. By taking advantage of the kind of controlled environment that a greenhouse provides, the gardener will have much greater degree of choice over when to plant.
Lilies will be able to get moisture and warmth whenever the individual chooses, rather than being dictated by climate conditions. Because of this, they can effectively be forced to bloom much earlier in the year – so long as they are provided with the necessary amount of heat and lighting.
This is not the full extent of control the individual will be given over the plant, as any work that needs to be done on the flowers can be carried out whenever it is convenient. Adverse weather events will not have anything like as big an impact. Specifically, if soil is too wet or frozen over outdoors, the gardener would not be able to do their work straight away, instead having to wait until conditions improve.
If this sounds far too leisurely for those who enjoy a challenge then do not worry – there are still difficulties presented by growing lilies in a greenhouse, even if it does sound ideal on paper.
The flipside of near-immunity from the weather is that the flowers will become much more high-maintenance. This is particularly the case when it comes to watering and feeding.
While pests and insects can be a problem for lilies outdoors, this problem does not simply disappear when they are moved to a greenhouse. The plant itself may benefit from ideal conditions – but these bugs will as well. Indeed, some pests and diseases that are not found outside may also prove to be an issue.
In an article for the UK national newspaper the Guardian, Jane Perrone – author of The Allotment Keeper's Handbook – recommended the Lily Defender plant. This claims to be immune to attacks from the lily beetle.
"When it comes to summer-flowering bulbs, the heady aroma of an oriental lily is hard to beat," Ms Perrone remarked, adding: "Its bete noire is the lily beetle, whose revolting larvae team up with adults to make doilies out of the leaves. Hope comes in the form of 'Defender Pink', which was resistant to lily beetle in two years of trials."