Growing lilies from seeds

Gloriosa superba ‘Rothschildiana’

Flame of the Woods, Flame Lily, Climbing Lily, Glory Lily

Gloriosa Lilies are a climbing member of the Lily family, which are natives of South Africa. These tubers are also a vine that climbs by means of tendrils at the tips of their leaves. Some common names include Gloriosa Lily, Flame of the Woods, Flame Lily, Climbing Lily and Glory Lily. All parts of plant including rootstock, are highly toxic if ingested; handling tubers may irritate the skin.

— All parts the Gloriosa Lily contain a chemical called colchicine. This chemical is used by plant breeders to double up the chromosomes in a plant’s DNA, thus it is used in hybridizing plants. Colchicine is a serious health problem if any part of the plant is swallowed, especially the tubers. Initial poisoning symptoms of colchicine develop in 2 to 6 hours. Contact your physician or poison control center immediately is Gloriosa Lily poisoning is suspected. —

The unusual and exotic flowers of the Gloriosa Lily have been featured on a US postage stamp and are the national flower of Zimbabwe, Africa. Gloriosa makes an outstanding cut flower in arrangements, and the configuration of its stamens and pistil has been compared to a clock and a minute hand.

Tropical Flowers, U.S. Postage Stamps, issued May 1, 1999

Blooming in mid-summer, these strange and exotic looking lily-like flowers are 4 to 5 inches across with wavy-edged petals that are reflexed back as if blown by a strong wind. In bud, the petals face downward, but they open up to a backward arch.

These wavy, swept-back petals are crimson red, with a yellow base and edged in bright yellow making the blossoms look like they’re on fire. The green stamens are extremely prominent and spread outward, and the pistil points to the side of the nodding blooms.

They produce weak, trailing stems clothed with glossy, lush green, whorled leaves which are tipped at the ends with tendrils to aid in climbing. The fast growing vines can climb up to 8 feet on a fence or trellis in warm weather, bloom, then die.

Gloriosa Lily. Click to enlarge.

Gloriosa Lily. Click to enlarge.

Plant Facts:

Common Name: Gloriosa Lily, Flame of the Woods, Flame Lily, Climbing Lily, Glory Lily

Botanical Name: Gloriosa superba ‘Rothschildiana’

Family: Liliaceae

Plant Type: Tuberous climbing lily-vine

Origin: Native to Tropical Africa and India

Zones: 8 (in sheltered areas) – 11

Height: to 8′

Rate of Growth: Fast

Salt Tolerance: Low

Soil Requirements: Improved sandy soil. Needs good drainage; cannot stand flooding.

Water Requirements: Water well when actively growing, no water when tubers are dormant

Nutritional Requirements: Balanced liquid fertilizer monthly, side dressings of composted manure

Light Requirements: Full to partial sun

Form: Climbing perennial vine

Leaves: Ovate-lance-shaped to oblong glossy bright green leaves, 2 to 3″ long which narrow to form terminal tendrils, 1-1/4 to 2″ long.

Flowers: Summer to Autumn, nodding flowers, 2 to 4″ across, are borne from upper leaf axis. Flowers have 6 reflexed, wavy-margined, red tepals, often yellow margined, with long, protruding stamens.

Fruits: N/A

Pests or diseases: Aphids, anthracnose, viruses, bulb rot.

Uses: The vine is weak and sparse standing alone, so is best combined with another vine on a trellis, a shrub, or a fence.

Bad Habits: All parts of plant are Highly Poisonous.

Cost: $$ — Very reasonable

Propagation: Offsets and division of tubers.

Source: A-Z Encyclopedia of Garden Plants

Growing from Seed

Growing From Seed

You probably think that lilies will take years and years to grow from seed because they are so big and beautiful but they don’t. Some will bloom in only 18 months if the proper procedure is followed.

Epigeal or “quick-type” seed

It is best for beginners to start with the epigeal or “quicktype” seeds. They can be planted directly in prepared ground or in a cold frame, but much quicker results are possible with windowsill or fluorescent light culture.

Many kinds of containers may be used but from four to six inches deep is best. Most amateurs find plastic pots ideal. Holes for drainage are a must with an inch or so of pebbles or other rough material at the bottom of the pot for drainage. If you have planted seeds indoors before, you will have your own favorite planting medium. Alternatively, you can use a light, fluffy potting mix containing vermiculite. These mixes, sold in stores, are good and usually are sterile. Some gardeners use soil to almost fill the container, and then add a thin layer of milled sphagnum for the seeds to lie on, and then cover with more of the same material. Lily seeds are quite large and should be spaced about one-half to one inch apart. If sphagnum is used to cover, sprinkle with a fine spray of water. The whole container should be thoroughly soaked by setting it in a pan of water for several hours. Be sure to label your plantings before forgetting to do so! After allowing excess water to drain away, cover the container with plastic or enclose in a polyethylene bag, and store in a warm place.

If good fresh seed is used, the seedlings should start to appear in as early as 14 days and maybe sooner. Remove the plastic as soon as the first “hairpin” shoot shows and place in good light. Fluorescent lights work very well if your windowsills are crowded. Water and light are all the seedlings will need for awhile. When most of the seed has sprouted, you may start feeding about every two weeks with dilute liquid fertilizer; organic fish oil is good.

These first grass-like leaves are called cotyledons. The true leaves which are broader, will appear in about four more weeks and in fairly rapid succession from then on.

Hardening Off Seedlings grown indoors will need to adjust to the brighter light and cooler temperatures before planting out. A protected place, out of the wind and full sun for a couple of weeks, should condition them for their new outdoor life.

The tender, loving care you give your seedlings while they sojourn in the nursery will play a big part in the number of blooms that they will reward you with in their second summer. Let nothing check their growth! Water regularly; feed at least once a month until late summer with a liquid organic fertilizer such as fish oil. Keep down weeds, preferably with mulch, and spray with a fungicide as a good precaution against botrytis which might destroy the leaves.

When frost has blackened the leaves, about two inches of good soil may be added to the seedling bed. As soon as the ground is frozen, a thick mulch of pine needles, straw, salt hay, etc. should be spread over all.

When spring arrives, watch the beds carefully and when the spring sun begins to warm the ground, and the shoots start to appear, carefully remove the mulch . . . but keep it piled nearby to cover the lilies if frost threatens. A fertilizer rich in nitrogen may be scratched in at this time . . . and again at about the time buds first show.

First Blooming!

This is what you have been waiting for, isn’t it? About June the promising fat buds, sometimes one but often times as many as three or four, will begin to appear. I don’t have to tell you to watch now. You’ll be down in that seedling patch many times a day! These firstblooming lilies with their huge blooms on short slender stems are beautiful! Next year they will be taller, sturdier and have many more blossoms. Aren’t you glad we persuaded you to grow some from seed? How long did it take? Only 18 months. That doesn’t seem possible, does it?

Hypogeal or “slow type” seed

Not all lilies grow as rapidly as trumpets, Aurelians, Asiatics, L. pumilum, and all the other “quick-type” lilies. It is not that the hypogeal or “slow-type” seeds are much more difficult but you do need patience! If you must try some of these types too then we’d better give directions for hurrying them along as much as possible.

These seeds have a two-stage germination process. First is the warm period. Disinfect the seed with a fungicide, mix with a generous handful of damp peat moss, milled sphagnum or vermiculite, enclose in a polyethylene bag, label and fasten. Store this in a warm place for approximately three months. Late May or early June planting ensures the most uniform germination. By peeking occasionally you can see little bulblets forming after the second month or so.

When most bulblets have swelled and made little roots, store the bag, still securely fastened, in the refrigerator for two to three months more. They may remain refrigerated longer or over winter for your convenience. After this cold period, the little bulblets may be tenderly planted and cared for as you do the “quick-type” seeds. The first true leaf will appear in a week or two. Take good care of it! It may be the only one produced for a whole year. These seedlings are best pampered in a shaded cold frame for a year or two. It will be three or four years before you reap your reward on these! But the “slow-type” lilies are some of our most breathtakingly beautiful and desirable such as the radiantly rosy L. speciosum and L. auratum hybrids as well as petal-pink L. japonicum and L. rubellum. If you grow and flower one of these from seed, your heart will really flutter with pride!

How To Grow Water Lilies From Seed

(Last Updated On: December 31, 2019)

When you have a pond and have decided that you want to decorate it with beautiful water lilies then the next question is how to grow water lilies from seed.

First, you need to have complete information about the kind of lily that you want to grow at your pond because not every kind of lily is suitable for your pond.

There are different specifications of the environment for growing lilies.

You need to know that you will need the right kind of seeds for growing water lilies, too young seeds or burnt and for longer times soaked seeds would not help.

Seeds need to be fresh and properly grown up.

Water lilies come in different varieties such as, hardy and tropical.

You may grow them from tubers or starters and you can also grow them from seeds.

In the case of growing them from seeds, you need to have seeds from mature water adult lilies.

There are certain things that you will need while growing lilies from seeds like, several containers, white sand, garden soil, paper towel, and plastic bag.

1. Collecting Seeds:

Water lilies spread their seeds in the pond; if you wish to collect seeds yourself then you will have to wait until pond matures.

You will need to place a plastic baggie over the seed pot and loosely catch it using a twist tie. Let the water be filled in the baggie and the seed pod sits in at the bottom of the water.

Leave it till the time seed ripens and explodes. When the expected thing happens you will have to remove baggie and seeds from the pond.

The next step is to pour the content of baggie into warm water, water should be put into a large tub, and let the seed ripe more before you remove them.

When the floral streamer rots away, it means your seeds are ripening and the ripen seed will sink into the bottom.

When you remove the seeds from the tub, divide them into two categories, viable seeds, and non-viable seed, viable seeds would be darker and larger and non-viable seeds would be smaller and in a light color.

2. Prepare Seeds For Planting:

You have got the seeds, but that is not enough for, you need to keep them safe.

If you are dealing with the tropical water lilies, get the seeds out of the water and into a paper towel and let them dry into the refrigerator and do not remove them from the refrigerator until you are ready to plant them.

In case of hardy water lilies, leave the seeds into the water till the time you decide to plant them.

Remove them from water and plant them right away.

3. Start With Your Water Lilies:

When you decide to plant lilies, you need to prepare a large container for starting your own water lilies. Add some garden soil at the bottom of your container.

After this fill the left space of container with warm water.

When your sediments start to settle in the bottom, compress the soil a little.

Now sprinkle you water lily seeds onto the soil and press them little into the dirt.

Make a thin layer of white sand over your seeds to see it clearly when seeds start to sprout.

4. Transplanting Seedlings:

Once the seeds are sprouted with few leaves, they are ready to be transplanted into their own separate containers.

The new container needs a layer of garden soil and it is ready to receive the sprouts of water lilies.

Each water lily now will grow in its own container.

Then you need to plant the seedling to the lateral sides of containers and cover it up to the top above part of its root ball with soil.

And then the last step is to submerge your water lilies into the pond. There you are with your water lilies, these are ready to make you pond blossom with beautiful flowers and fragrances.

Craig Presnell has set about making some of the most stunning new tropical waterlily hybrids introduced in recent years. He knows exactly how to grow waterlilies from seed.

Craig Presnell likes to pot seeds independently. He would say, cases that make just a couple of seeds frequently have the most encouraging posterity and he wouldn’t like to hazard losing any in gathering planting.

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