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Shady Areas for Lilies

Shady Areas for Lilies

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Growing Tips
What sort of shade does matter.

What kinds of plants do you have growing in your shady areas? Grass, Hosta, primroses or violets? Does the sun shine directly for an hour or two? Do tall deciduous trees filter the sun, creating patches of bright indirect light that move around depending on the hour?

Dappled shade, bright, indirect light or an Eastern exposure is best for Oriental lilies, especially if summer temperatures average in the upper 90's. To keep bulbs cool, use light-colored mulch to reflect heat, or plant shallow-rooted perennials near, not against, stems. Avoid rank-growing, invasive plants or perennials which smother emerging sprouts in the spring and overhanging trees and shrubs which steal light and nutrients. Asiatic and Trumpets will also grow in light shade, but upward facing Asiatic lilies are usually not as graceful-looking as Orientals or Trumpets when leaning toward the sun. If stems "stretch" more than you like, you can either stake plants or move bulbs to a sunnier location in early winter.

The area in this photo on the left receives 2 hours of direct light and is somewhat moderated by waving tree branches overhead. Before a pine was removed last summer, there was no direct sunlight. The plants flowered, but the foliage had never looked as nice as shown in the photo, because now the stems have slightly more light.

Sunshine is more intense in southern regions, high plains, and mountain areas. Lilies that will happily flower in the shade of a tree with a dense canopy of leaves in a southern states may not do so well in cool maritime climates. If the light is too dark, the result may be lily stems doubled in height, plus leaning dramatically towards a brighter light source. Although pretty, the flowers will not be evenly spaced around the top of the stem. This is not necessarily a problem in the garden, but that stem would not receive an award in competition, because the flowers would not be balanced.

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