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Perennials/ASIATIC LILLIES

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Question
I BROUGHT A BLOOMING ASIATIC LILLY PLANT 2 YEARS AGO.  LAST SPRING WHEN THE PLANT CAME BACK AFTER WINTER, IT HAD EXPANDED TO 3 - 4 PLANTS.  NONE OF THE PLANTS BLOOMED.  IT'S NOW BEGINNING TO COME BACK AGAIN.  WHAT SHOULD I DO TO ENSURE THEY ALL WILL BLOOM THIS YEAR?

THANK YOU,

JERRY

Answer
Hi Jerry,
Thanx for your question.  One of the problems with buying a lily that is blooming in a pot is exactly what you describe.  Or worse, the plant dies after blooming and does not come back.

Here's what usually happens.  Potted and blooming lilies, tulips, hyacinths, narcissi and daffodils are usually "forced" in large greenhouses.  This means the bulbs are pretreated in an environment to simulate winter, cold dormancy.  After the appropriate amount of time subjected to the cold treatment, the bulbs are exposed to warmth and watered.  This "forces" the bulbs to begin growing outside their normal time of year for blooming and growing.  So, you see the results in the store in the spring, especially for Easter and Mother's Day.  The problem with "forcing" is, that it causes the bulb to expend huge amounts of energy which often render the plant totally spent after it blooms.  In Nature, the blossom is the result of the plant attempting to reproduce itself...to keep the species from extinction.  So, these plants have been "forced" to expend a tremendous amount of energy in order to get a bloom and seeds for the next generation.  But, like I said, it usually ends up with a used-up bulb that will rot and die.  That doesn't happen to all of the plants but to a good portion of them it does.  It seems like in your case, the bulb had enough energy to provide the plant enough nourishment that it could continue to live once it bloomed and then gather enough energy from the sun to survive a second round of dormancy with the subsequent winter.  That's the purpose of the plant's leaves.  The green leaves gather sunlight and via photsynthesis, certain cells in the leaves use chlorophyll to produce sugars that are stored in the bulb for next year's bloom and growth.  The plant's leaves gather sunlight and with Carbon Dioxide (CO2) and water, they produce sugars to be stored in the bulb, tuber, rhizome, roots, corm as nourishment for future growth.  The waste product is Oxygen.  

Ok, with all that said, it sounds to me like your plant had enough saved energy to survive the dormancy but sometimes, when this type of trauma occurs, the plant will not produce a flower the subsequent season.  It will instead, spend time repairing its roots and its energy storing systems such as rhizomes, bulbs, corms, tubers.  Meaning, it will make those structures larger or increase them in order to store even more energy in anticipation of another energy-forcing trauma.  I will be willing to bet that your plant will bloom this year.  The idea that it has increased to 4 plants could mean there are a few new bulbs or, the bulb is sending out more greenery to gather even more energy.  In any case, I believe the plant will produce blooms this year.  If you want to further nourish the plant, use basic bone meal which you can buy at the nursery or DIY or use bulb food.  The containers will tell you how much to apply.  Phosphorus is the key element in the N-P-K formula that contributes most to bulb growth (N= Nitrogen, P= Phosophorus and K=Potassium).  You can also apply well-composted manure to the planted area which will help with bulb growth, foliage growth and blooming.  I hope this helps.
Tom

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Tom Alonzo

Expertise

I have been a gardener for 20 years with perennials both growing from seed and from nurseries. I went through the Master Gardener Program from Kansas State University Cooperative Extension Service and I answered questions on the Hotline a few years ago for the Wyandotte County Kansas Extension Service. I have also lived in the Florida, California, Hawaii, Arizona, Texas, Kansas and Missouri and am experienced with a variety of climates, soils and weather conditions.

Experience

I have been growing perennials for over 20 years now. I am self-taught mostly except for a master gardener class. I have experimented with all kinds of perennials including many that are not common to my area. I have read hundreds of books and grown hundreds of varieties of plants and hope to make it a business some day. I have become versed in botanical names and growing conditions and what I don't know off of the top of my head I can usually easily find in my vast array of research material and botanical and horticultural contacts. I especially enjoy experimenting with growing plants out of zone.

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