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Lilium species

Limited Quantity Crop

As many of our long time customers know, we discontinued growing Martagon Hybrids on our home farm about 5 years ago. A highly specialized crop, martagons can take 7 years or more to produce a good, flowering size bulb from a scale. Though bulbs were readily available out of Holland (why the jobber companies have them), their small size often required another 2 or 3 years of growth to produce a single flower, something they don't tell you, and a garden inconvenience we did not wish to pass along to our customers. Fortunately, as we cut back on production, a good friend who is really into species lilies picked up the propagation torch.

There is a very small crop ( around 25 bulbs of each) of flowering size Martagon bulbs available for delivery this fall. These have all produced flowers this past summer.

The best known of the European natives, Lilium martagon and its variants have the greatest range of all the species or wild lilies. Preferring calcareous (sweet) soils, Lilium martagon can find a home in every garden provided some lime is added yearly to the soil. Not liking to be disturbed, it will often refuse to send up a stem the first season after being moved. The Turk's Cap flowers are small, but as many as 50 or more can appear on the 4 foot stem of a mature, settled bulb. Carrying a light "wild flower" scent, they do well in shade as well as full sun, of which the latter tends to keep stems from reaching their full potential.

L. martagon and its hybrids along with their close cousins L. hansonii and L. tsingtauense are the swallowtail butterfly favorites on our farm. Both the Western Tiger (Papilio rutulus) as well as the Pale Tiger (Papilio eurmedon) relish bloom time every summer.

Martagon species, as well as their hybrids, resent being moved and fall is their best time for planting for success. Actually, the optimal time for moving a martagon is while it is in full bloom. While the jobber companies (those that just buy and resell) are either not aware of this, or simply don't care being they are not growers, we are and we do. Spring planted martagons often times do not emerge the first season and those that do, often fail to bloom their first season.

SPECIAL NOTE ZONE 9 and 10: We have had numerous questions about zone 9 and 10 planting of the Martagons concerning chill times. Unfortunately, the USDA zones do not always take into account special needs and though L. martagon and its hybrids are well suited for the summer temperatures in those zones if planted in light shade, they do need a winter chill, just as do the Oriental Hybrids.

More difficult to establish than our Asiatic, Trumpet or Oriental lilies, our Martagon lilies are guaranteed to be healthy and true-to-name, but not for failure to grow. May take an additional season before blooming and conditions need to be more exacting. Martagons pout when they are moved and need to settle back in to their new homes. Provide perfect drainage, rocky soil is fine, and don't over water the bulbs during summer while they are in dormancy. Bulbs resent transplanting and could rot during a cold, wet winter/spring or during the summer, if you add any moisture retentive materials to the soil around the bulb itself. Under no circumstances use peat for L. martagon or its hybrids, but leaf mold and/or compost as a top dressing in the fall is desirable.
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