Can I plant my Lilly of the Valley bulbs in May or wait for fall?

Veronique33(6)May 6, 2012

Growing up in France I looove - and have been missing for 20 yrs!... - my Lilly of the Valley, their amazing fragrance... and what they used to represent for me in the spring!.. I've never found the bulbs or pots - or never thought about it - on time to plant them and enjoy them at the right time...:-)

I finally found some LOV pips but it's already May 6th. So I do not know, and can't find anywhere, if I can plant them now or if I should wait till fall?..

I plant in containers on my N.E. terrace in NYC and can't wait to see my LOV grow - even with no flowers this year of course - and have them bloom next spring...:-)

Can someone help me and tell me what to do?

Can I plant them in the containers now? Can I start them in indoors pots? If so, will they grow and come back next spring?

Can LOV be forced indoor in any other season than winter? Like now?... lol...

Or should I store them till fall? How then?... Should they stay in the frig?

Or should I just return them - can do that with Home Depot... and buy new ones later? When and where should I buy them, then, to finally smell my LOV next spring?... :-)

Thanks for your help...

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flora_uk(SW UK 8/9)

Veronique, you can plant them now outdoors. They are totally hardy. But be warned that they spread and are very difficult to eradicate, so make sure you give them a pot of their own where you don't mind them spreading. They like cool, moist dappled shade. Le Muguet has special May Day connotations in France which it doesn't elsewhere so I can see you would miss it so much.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 7:55AM
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Carrie B(6B/7A)

I wouldn't worry about LOV taking over in pots. You'll be lucky if they do well in containers in a terrace above ground. Definitely pot them now.

It's a myth that clematis want their "feet in the shade", what they do want is plenty of moisture. You can plant the LOV in the same pot with clematis so long as the LOV don't take up too much root space and moisture away from the clematis.

Incidentally, they are not technically bulbs.

    Bookmark   May 7, 2012 at 9:52PM
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vetivert8(NI-NZ zone 9a)

I would give them their own pot. It would be wider than it is deep, and self-watering could be useful. Maybe eight to ten inches deep and fourteen to eighteen inches wide with generous drain holes.

If I could find a soil-based potting mix I would use that as a soilless, or a peat-based mix carries the risk of being too hard to re-wet. The city temperatures can be very high and, as you say, there is the matter of the wind drying out the pots.

I wouldn't plant it with the Clematis and rose. For two main reasons: every so often you need to lift the mat of roots to thin it back to fewer 'pips' and your foundation plants will probably not appreciate the upheaval; and,
the leaves look awful as they die off over the summer/autumn. Ragged and scruffy.

Their appearance doesn't matter in the woods, or in a ground-level garden. There is usually something else to distract the eye. Not so on a balcony garden where everything needs to be elegant and groomed.

They like morning sun, or even broken afternoon sun. They'll survive a midday blast but they don't look 'happy'. Once they've flowered and flaunted, you need to have somewhere out of public view so they can grow, enjoy the sun and rain, be protected from drying winds, and be scruffy as the year moves on.

They do like being fed - preferably on something that adds humus to the soil, because they tend to live in the top few inches more than delving deeply. Dry steer manure as pellets, or leaf mould with some added blood and bone would be acceptable. Food, and a medium that holds water for slower release. Add this in both autumn once the leaves have gone, and spring before the leaves-flowers are up. Not too thickly. Maybe half an inch to an inch, no more.

They'll be fine with snow, should it fall. And whatever you do with your pots already to protect them from frost will be fine. These plants are hardy down to zone three after all.

You will probably have to thin them out every two years or so. They do not need any fridge time at all and they can stay in the ground all year.

    Bookmark   May 8, 2012 at 1:59AM
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Wow... Thanks so much everyone for your answers. Not sure my own follow up posted. Can't see it here... So forgive me if it repeats... not very familiar with using forums... :-)

Yes, Flora, the first of May is very special in France and brings all kind of wonderful memories... Not the least of them just going to pick wild Muguet for Mom as a little girl... Or receiving it from your first admirers as a teen... :-)
Nothing celebrates the coming of spring better than those white mini-bells' incomparable fragrance!.. Except maybe the return of the Barn Swallows... :-)
So yes... I do miss them ... And I thank you for acknowledge it and telling me what to do...

So... I'll plant them now... Should I chill them first in the frig?
Will they flower this year if I do and bring some inside? How can I make sure they come up and flower next spring if I plant them outside now in a separate pot?
I have a terrace on the 11th floor of a building in Manhattan exposed to the North East... So I get sun from sunrise until about 11AM to 1 or 2PM, depending on where on the terrace. Should I put them in the spot with the least sun time? Or in the shadow of other bigger plants? I don't really have a dappled shady spot... And it can get hot and windy up here on the terrace!...

I was thinking to add them in my two self watering 30'x12' tubs at the foot of my Clematises and Rose Climbing bush where I just added a couple Peonies and Day Lilies bulbs. I usually add impatiens and other shade lovers annuals in spring, but I would like to have more perennials and less to plant in spring. As well as achieve the 'head in sun, feet in shade need' of the Clematis and Rose Bush.
You can see the terrace on my Studio link. Not the tubs which would be in the back of the photographer on the NE wall.
Would they take over there too and choke the others? Should I absolutely plant them in separate small pots? Wouldn't them freeze or dry too much in the winter? But maybe I can bring some inside in Jan-Feb to have them bloom early that way?...

Thanks Vetivert8 for your extensive response... Wow again... All a way from New Zealand!... I loved NZ!... Even had a Maori roommate when I was studying in Paris... Do they have LOV in NZ?... Lived in Tahiti too... So Tiare is another incomparable fragrance that brings amazing fond memories!... :-)
So I will not plant them with the Clematis and Roses.

Anything I can plant with them in the pot to have some show in the summer and/or fall to hide the pot when they 'look awful' as I do not have room on the terrace or inside !... How about under my Hostas or Astilbes or at the foot of my Euonymus tree which is thinning at the bottom? Never had LOV in the US so I'm not sure what their exact look cycle is here... :-)

And just to precise something... They would not flower this season even if I was placing them in the frig before planting like they suggest for forcing? That only works in winter, right?... I'm so eager to smell them!... LOL...

So many questions, sorry... :-) Thanks again for your time and expertise...


PS: oh ... Just one more... Does a link stash on a post? or is it not allowed? Thought I included it but its no longer there... Will try again...:-)

Here is a link that might be useful: My NYC Terrace

    Bookmark   May 10, 2012 at 11:40AM
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buyorsell888(Zone 8 Portland OR)

I would not plant LOV with Clematis. Clematis would resent their competition for water and nutrients, mine with root competition fail to thrive. I would not plant LOV with hosta either. In my shady garden bed the LOV swamps the hosta and kills them eventually. I dig LOV out every year and cannot get rid of it. It is very aggressive.

    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 12:21PM
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Hello! I am a new member but due to frequent google searches I visit this site often. :) I was wondering if I could plant my LoV plants now. (currently March 9th zone 6) I started the bulbs/pips indoors so they have leaves now. I just don't know how cold hardy the plants are.. I couldnt find any real answers for temperature planting. we do have a few days where the temps might fall below 32F at night but the days are in the 50's & 60's.
Thank you!

    Bookmark   March 10, 2014 at 12:49AM
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