Oriental Lilies - Information
As our long time customers know, because our growing season here in the Pacific Northwest has been getting shorter and shorter each year, with less heat over summer, we were finding that the Orientals in our home field simply needed 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 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 late October. Leaves are staying green until much later than usual, which means the lily bulbs are still using them to fatten up for winter.
The Good News is that a good friend located in the deep, rich, fertile soils of the Willimatte Valley in Oregon has picked up the torch and is now producing a nice selection of Orientals that due to their warmer spring and summer temperatures will be ready for fall shipping. These lilies in the field look fantastic for this first crop and may even surpass the quality our home field bulbs have been known for.
We have now a limited supply of Orientals for this fall and as their production increases over the next few years, more and more variety will be available to our fall shipped customers as their production increases.
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.