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Lily Stem Bulbils

Lily Stem Bulbils

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Growing Tips
Lily bulbils grow within the leaf axils, the spot where the base of the leaf attaches to the stem. They are usually purple-black to dark brown in color and, like their underground bulblet counterparts, are basically miniature versions of the main bulb growing underground. Bulbils can be found quite readily on the old fashioned Tiger Lily (L. Lancifolium) and other Asiatic Hybrids that, in their breeding background, have that tendency to produce arial offshoots. You can plant them if you wish, with only an inch of soil covering the tip of the bulbil and in two years, should see a first flower. Although we do not recommend growing L. Lancifolium, because if the tendency for bulbs to be heavily virused, some of the older hybrid Asiatics clones will exhibit this remarkable propagation trait.

In a commercial field, seedling and clonal selections with bulbils growing above ground are usually not welcome; falling easily to the ground and blending into the soil, they are quite good at escaping capture. (Bulblets from the underground portion of stem are white in color and usually firmly attached to the stem, allowing easy retrieval.) Missed Asiatic bulbils (and bulblets) grow quickly and if that section of field is planted back into other Asiatics, the rows will need careful study and a shovel to dig out interlopers. There is a foliage difference between Asiatics and other types of lilies, making it easier to rogue out if another Asiatic lily is not grown in the same spot for a few seasons.

To solve this problem of mix ups in the rows non-organic growers may fumigate their soil, altering soil microflora from a gas that penetrates into the ground and held there for a prescribed amount of time via a plastic barrier. Organically using pigs to eliminate missed bulbs, bulblets and bulbils in a field works well, however it leaves the field out of production for a year, plus requiring careful management with a tractor to smooth out ruts and holes from digging snouts. Following with a cover crop directly afterwards helps repair soil structure in low spots, that collected rainfall, and became piggy mud baths.
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