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If you live at Musselman’s Lake you are used to seeing the many Lilies that are abundant in our community.
By Charlene Jones (Originally posted July 2014)
Two kinds of brilliant orange, strikingly tall lilies can be identified around our lake. They both bear the name “Ditch Lily” from their shared preference for growing around ditches.
The first variety, called Common Wildflower Lily, or Day Lily is not really a lily at all. It belongs to the Latin group Hemerocallidaceae and if you can pronounce that, come over and teach me, too!
These plants are nearly indestructible. If you have an area in need of strong, I mean really strong, roots, such as a hill, or part of your garden where other kinds of foliage fail, try the Common Wildflower Lily.You will notice it growing in large clumps, dotting the roads and by ways with its plain orange blossom. The single blossom, on top of a long, woody stalk with many buds, but only a single blossom, lasts one day and has no scent. These blossoms with their trumpet shape and striking color are known to attract hummingbirds. Dig down in spring or fall where you find these flowers growing wild, wash and transplant, covering their roots with enough soil to keep them dark, then watering fully. They like company and enjoy being planted together, much closer than many other flowers like. But beware. The roots on this plant grow thickly and will not be easily disturbed. For more on this google Ditch Lilies and read laments from many who have tried to release their soil from the clutches of this determined plant!
The other variety is called Oriental Lily. This is the true Tiger Lily although it too is called Day Lily. If you think the names are confusing so far, consider this: Tiger Lilies do not have stripes. They have spots and so are sometimes referred to as Leopard Lilies!
Tiger Lilies bloom orange or reddish orange with dark brown speckles covering the petals. The petals curve backwards and the bloom faces downward. The blooms form in clusters where several bloom at one time resting on the tip of a heavy stalk that is covered with short spiky leaves. This kind laces the garden air with the smell of lily, lily, lily. Their reddish tinge and brown speckles no doubt gave rise to the superstition that if you smell a Tiger Lily, you will receive freckles!
These lilies need more gentle handling in the beginning. The Oriental Variety require you to separate small bulbs called bulbits from the axils of leaves of a thriving plant. Remove the bulb scales from the bulbits and grow them in moist peat, in a cool, dark place until small bulbs form. Start them in a nursery and later transfer them outside. Once the Oriental Variety are established and thriving, theyʼll drop their own bulbs with no help from you.Caution
Although both Oriental and Common WIldflower Lilies are extremely hardy and seldom suffer from insects or disease themselves, both may carry diseases that affect other lilies and flowering plants, so if you are going to transplant from a wild group, you might consider carefully washing their roots before bedding them in your soil.
These plants are also toxic to cats, who may vomit, demonstrate lethargy, even develop kidney failure from eating them. On the other hand, rabbits and deer find the orange flowers a delectable treat! To keep these wild animals from eating away at your prizes, or nibbling on other treats from your garden, try mixing a solution of 20% egg with about 80% water, and spraying this over your lilies. Deer and rabbits hate the smell of eggs!