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Forcing Guide / The Lily

1. Storage ................................................................................................................................2
2. Greenhouse and greenhouse equipment ...............................................................................3
3. Soil and irrigation water....................................................................................................... 6
4. General cultivation procedures ............................................................................................ 8
5. Greenhouse environment.................................................................................................... 12
6. Other cultivation systems ................................................................................................... 14
7. Harvesting and post harvest treatment ................................................................................ 18
8. Planning and labour ...........................................................................................................20
9. Crop protection and disease control.................................................................................... 21
10. Selection of cultivars ........................................................................................................28

1. Storage
To ensure satisfactory long term storage of lilies, frozen lilies should be packed in plastic film
plus slightly moist peat or potting compost. Lilies delivered in a frozen state can continue to be
stored, provided this is done at the right temperature. It is still possible to freeze newly harvested
bulbs not delivered in a frozen state up to the 15th of January. Lilies which were previously frozen
cannot be re-frozen as frost damage will certainly occur but the degree of damage depends on
the type of cultivar, time of the year and the length of time unfrozen.
During the freezing process bulbs, irrespective of where they are located in the box or stack, must
be frozen to the right temperature in a relatively short space of time (7 to 10 days). The cold store
should therefore meet a number of requirements.
In the Netherlands these are as follows:
walls must have an insulation level of 0.3 Watt/m2/Kelvin
the cold store must have a cooling capacity of 30-60 Watt per m3 cold store volume
automatic, slow-speed ventilators must be installed
there must be adequate space between the boxes/stacks of boxes in the cold store
there must be consistent air circulation through-out the cold store.
It is particularly important to maintain a uniform temperature throughout the entire cold store.
Minor differences in temperature can cause frost damage or shoots to develop.
Bulbs are frozen and stored at the following store temperatures:
Asiatic - 2.5C
Oriental - 1.5C
Longiflorum hybrids - 1.5C
L/A hybrids - 2.5C
Bulbs of Asiatic hybrids can be stored for up to a year without showing any detorioration in
quality. Bulbs stored for a longer period will develop more rapidly, plants will be smaller and
fewer buds will develop.
Oriental and Longiflorum hybrids cannot be stored for such a long period. From July onwards,
depending on seasonal conditions and the cultivar, there is a risk that storage problems, such as
shoot formation and frost damage will occur.
Lilies which have not been frozen can only be stored for a short period. The storage duration
depends on the storage temperature and the time of year. This means for example, that fresh
bulbs can be stored longer in temperatures above freezing point during January and February
than they can in the autumn. On average, bulbs can be stored at a temperature of approx. 1C for
a maximum of 2 weeks and at 5C for a maximum of 1 week.

2. Greenhouse and greenhouse equipment

Greenhouse facilities
For the cultivation of lilies it is essential to have the right greenhouse facilities. A suitable
greenhouse environment must be maintained in spite of very changing conditions. Temperature,
air circulation, ventilation and light must therefore be easy to adjust. Optimum climate control for
lilies can be achieved by choosing a greenhouse with an adequate air volume capacity, as this
will also mean that there will be sufficient space in the greenhouse to install screening, irrigation
and lighting equipment.
It is essential to have a greenhouse with good light penetration, especially during the light
deficient months of winter. Poor light conditions increase the risk of bud drop and quality
deterioration. During the remainder of the year, greenhouse ventilation is an important factor
when lower soil and air temperatures are necessary.
Greenhouse equipment: Heating system
In a large number of regions a heating system is essential. Asiatic hybrids and L/A hybrids
require a minimum constant greenhouse temperature of 8C to 14C, while the other groups
require a temperature of 16C.
The required norm for the heater system to achieve these temperatures is approximately 220
Watt per m2 per hour.
Because of its superior heat distribution and climate control a pipe heating system is the best
choice but air heating systems can also be used. It is important to ensure that these systems
provide a satisfactory distribution of heat, have regular combustion and a leak-free outlet for
combustion gases. If the heating system has not been properly adjusted, ethylene gas could
escape into the greenhouse and cause bud drop. It is certainly possible to install a heating
system by laying pipes or flexible hoses (temp. max 40C) through the beds and this system is to
be recommended, bearing in mind the importance of maintaining a dry crop (Botrytis prevention).
Greenhouse equipment: CO2 System
It is advisable to enrich the atmosphere with CO2 because of the beneficial effect it has on the
growth and flowering of lilies. The crop is sturdier, greener and there is less risk of bud drop. The
gas is supplied from burners, from the central boiler or from pure CO2. The treatment is applied
as soon as it starts to get light in the morning and continues for a number of hours or even the
whole day, provided all ventilators and doors of the greenhouse are closed or ventilation is kept
to a minimum and there is sufficient light available for assimilation.
With assimilation lighting enrichment can continue for 24 hours. For proper control of CO2 it is
necessary to regularly check the levels by using simple gauges.
There must be optimum combustion to prevent damage to the crop by CO2 and ethylene, and a
safety device is required to indicate any possible defects quickly.

Greenhouse equipment: Irrigation system

The most important requirement of an irrigation system is even water distribution. It is essential
that regular checks are carried out to ensure even distribution, including pre-planting. A lack of
water or excess water results in uneven and slow development and growth, short plants and
sometimes even bud desiccation in a few susceptible cultivars.
An overhead irrigation system is preferable as this provides even water distribution and also the
ability to wash-off the crop. Furthermore, in low relative humidity conditions an overhead system
cools the crop.
At a later cultivation stage, when growth is dense, a low level irrigation system or trickle hoses
can be used to prevent tall, top-heavy plants from toppling, especially in winter.
Furthermore the crop will remain drier, which will greatly reduce the risk of Botrytis. This is
particularly important when growing cultivars susceptible to Botrytis and for crops grown in areas
of high relative humidity or at certain times of the year when relative humidity is high.
An overhead irrigation system must meet a number of technical requirements:
height of system should be between 1.60 to 2.15 m.
distance between the irrigation pipes should be between 2.20 to 3.20 m.
distance between sprinklers along the pipe should be at least 1.00 m.
each sprinkler should provide approx. 4 liters of water a minute
the sprinkling pressure should be 1.5 to 2 bars (kg/cm2)
the water filtration should be 1 to 400 microns
It is certainly not advisable to flood the soil during cultivation as this causes deterioration of the
Greenhouse equipment: Soil cooling
During periods of high temperatures, soil temperatures can be kept sufficiently low by soil
cooling. Soil cooling can be used from planting until the formation of the stem roots. The cooling
system consists of four tubilene hoses per bed laid at a depth of approx. 45 cm. The soil
temperature is adjusted to and maintained at the required temperature by using cooled or spring
water. This results in better and more uniform growth, which gives longer and sturdier plants with
more buds.
Greenhouse equipment: Lighting equipment
Light affects the growth of lilies (assimilation) and their development, including flowering
(photoperiodicity). Depending on the time of year, the location of production in relation to the
equator, the amount of light penetration in the greenhouse and the cultivar, assimilation lighting
or day length lighting may be desirable or may even be essential.
Greenhouse equipment: Assimilation lighting
Insufficient light (radiation) results in inadequate growth in plants and in lilies this manifests
itself in bud drop, a weaker crop, a lighter foliage color and a shorter vase-life. Lilies particularly
need sufficient light for satisfactory development of flower buds. During the winter, in light
deficient conditions, from the time flower buds reach the 1 cm - 2 cm stage up to harvesting,
buds may turn white and fall off (bud drop).
The Asiatic hybrids are the most susceptible cultivars to bud drop, but there are large differences
between cultivars. Longiflorum hybrids are clearly less susceptible and Oriental hybrids are the
least susceptible.
For winter cultivation, depending on latitude and regional climate, growers must ensure
satisfactory light admission in the greenhouse and not use a greenhouse which is shaded by its
surroundings. Growers should also be aware of the fact that the use of screens, including screens

of plastic film, will cause a considerable loss of light penetration into the greenhouse.
Furthermore it is advisable to use during the winter months cultivars less susceptible to a lack of
light and to plant bulbs wider apart.
The minimum light density in the greenhouse for Asiatic hybrids is 300 wh/m2 or 190
Joules/cm2/day (PAR = Photo synthetically Active Radiation). However, should daylight need to
be supplemented with assimilation lighting this should begin from the 1 cm - 2 cm bud stage.
The table sets out for each lily group the periods in which natural light is insufficient, the number
of lighting hours needed per day and the cultivation phase during which assimilation lighting is
Usually assimilation lighting is provided by using one 400 Watt SON-T-lamp fitted with special
reflectors per 10 m2. For additional information on these lamps, please consult your local
information advisory service or your supplier.
Greenhouse equipment: Day length lighting
Light, in the form of day length, affects the flowering of the lily. Flowering can be brought forward
(advanced) with some lily cultivars by artificially extending the day length during periods when
days are short.
Artificial extension of day length is only recommended for spring cultivation with new crop bulbs.
Used in autumn it will shorten the cultivation period but because of the fast development of lilies
their stems will not be strong enough.
The group of cultivars which benefits from extended daylength can be found among the Oriental
hybrids and are characterized by a cultivation period lasting more than 100 days for spring
cultivation with fresh bulbs.
From the time 50% of the shoots have emerged, lilies are exposed to daylength lasting up to 16
hours, continued for 6 weeks or until the flower buds in the closed inflorescence are just visible.
Daylight extension, using light bulbs (with approx. 20 Watt/m2 installed power) is given
immediately before natural daylight begins. It is also possible to use Cyclic lighting (10 minutes
of light, 10 minutes of dark) but the results are less successful.
Daylight extension permits earlier marketing of Oriental hybrids which benefit from this treatment
than other lilies in the spring. However they could be somewhat shorter and there is a greater risk
of bud drop.
When natural daylength lasts for 16 hours or longer there is really no point in providing day
length lighting as the benefits are so small.
Greenhouse equipment: Screening equipment
From the viewpoint of climate control and for energy-saving in the winter it is advisable to use
screening equipment. A mobile screen that does not exclude too much light is ideal. Particularly
during spring, autumn and winter in the crops light sensitive phase it enables optimum use to be
made of natural light under poor light conditions. It is better to apply or install fixed shading in
the form of a layer of chalk painted on the greenhouse roofing or shade cloths (preferably on the
outside of the greenhouse) when light conditions remain above the minimum amount required.
Remove shading on time in the autumn. Fixed shading can also be used during the first three
weeks after planting.
Preferably use shades which allow humidity penetration.

3. Soil and irrigation water

Lilies can be grown on almost all soils. It is however important that growers ensure that the soil
used for the cultivation of lilies has a good structure throughout, particularly the top layer, and is
also kept well-drained during the entire growing period. Heavy loam and clay soils are less
suitable for cultivation purposes but can certainly be used if humus retaining substrates are
worked through the soil to a depth of 30 cm, as this will aerate the top soil while at the same time
allowing sufficient quantities of oxygen to be retained in the soil water. Besides water and
nutrients, oxygen in the soil is also vital to plants for a good and healthy root system and
therefore plant development.
Surface panning of slake-sensitive soils can be prevented by applying a layer of rice straw, rice
chaff, pine needles, peat compost et.
Maintaining the correct pH (acidity) of the soil plays a major role in the root development of lilies
and in the correct uptake of nutrients. If the pH is too low this will result in excess absorption of
elements such as manganese, aluminium and iron, while a pH which is too high will result in an
inadequate uptake of phosphorous, manganese and iron (see Nutrient deficiency) among other
It is advisable to maintain a pH of 6 to 7 for the Asiatic, Longiflorum hybrid and L/A groups and a
pH of 5.5 to 6.5 for the Oriental hybrids.
To reduce pH levels, peat products should be worked through the top soil. When using fertilizers,
it is advisable to use ammonium-based fertilizers and area, as these will also reduce pH le-vels.
To increase pH levels work compounds containing lime or magnesium-based lime thoroughly
through the soil before planting. In cases where the pH level has been extremely low, after liming,
it is advisable to wait at least one week before planting. During the growing period it is preferable
to use fertilizers, such as nitrate-N fertilizers, which increase pH levels.
Water balance
The lily is not a deep rooting plant; it does however require a well-drained soil depth of at least
40 cm, especially considering that between crops it is often necessary to flood the soil because
of high salt levels.
Salt sensitivity
The lily belongs to the group of salt susceptible plants; therefore high salt levels have an
inhibitive effect on water absorption through the roots, which in turn will effect the stem length of
the plant.
The salt level of the soil is influenced by three factors, namely:
1. the salt level of manure or fertilizer
2. the salt level of the irrigation water
3. the nutrient level of the previous crop
Have a soil sample taken at least six weeks before bulbs are planted, to give sufficient
information on the soils pH, the total salt and chlorine levels and the amount of nutrients in the
soil. In total the salt level should not exceed 1.5 mS. The chlorine level in particular should not

exceed 50 mg/l. If the salt or chlorine levels are higher, then the soil should be well flooded
beforehand with suitable water. Make sure the soil is flooded thoroughly before cultivation as
this will prevent deterioration of the soil structure.
When using fresh organic fertilizer ensure salt levels are not too high and do not use large
quantities of artificial fertilizer at the same time.
Fertilizer base dressing
To obtain adequate information on the soils nutrient status it is essential to take soil samples
well before the start of the growing period. Depending on the soils structure, nutrient condition
and salt level, well decomposed organic compounds, such as 1 m3 well-rotted cow manure per
100 m2, can be worked thoroughly through the soil well before planting. Fresh farmyard manure
usually has excess salt levels. So be careful with fresh manure as it can quickly cause root
scorch. On heavier and more humus-rich soils, the use of farmyard manure often has an adverse
effect on the structure of the soil because it causes compaction. It is therefore advisable to use
peat compost or similar products. Sand or drift sand (lava sand) are also used occasionally. Lilies
do not need a high nutrient level and this is certainly true during the first three weeks of
cultivation. Good root development with no salt damage is more important at this stage.
It is however advisable to apply phosphate and potash in the form of straight fertilizers on
nutrient deficient soils (see result of soil analysis), as it will not be possible to apply these
compounds during cultivation, given that lilies are very susceptible to fluorine which causes leaf
scorch, (particularly on soils with a low pH). Fluoride retaining fertilizers such as super and triple
super phosphate and a number of compound fertilizers should not be used. It is much preferable
to use fluorine-deficient fertilizers such as dicalcium phosphate.
Irrigation water
The salt level (EC) of irrigation water contributes to the total salt level of the soil and should
therefore also be low: 0.5 mS/cm or lower. With an EC of approx. 0.1, rain water complies with
this level. The EC of spring or surface water, when used extensively or during the summer
months, can increase considerably. The maximum acceptable chlorine level of irrigation water
used for greenhouse irrigation is 50 mg.
Needless to say, carrying out regular checks on salt and chlorine levels should not be considered
a waste of time. If irrigating with water which exceeds these levels the soil should be kept
constantly moist to prevent an increase in salt concentrations which can occur if the soil
becomes too dry.

4. General cultivation
cultivation procedures
On arrival
Immediately on arrival, bulbs should be planted in moist soil. Bulbs which are not frozen (new
crop December-January-February) and defrosted bulbs should be planted on the same or the
following day.
Frozen bulbs should be slowly defrosted (do not place in the sun) at a temperature of 10C to
15C with the plastic packaging opened up. Defrosting at higher temperatures results in quality
loss. Once bulbs have been defrosted they cannot be refrozen because of the risk of frost
damage. If it is not possible to plant non-frozen and defrosted bulbs they can be stored for a
maximum of 2 weeks at +0C to +2C or for 1 week at +2C to +5C with the plastic open. Higher
storage temperatures and longer storage periods cause unwanted shoot development and, if
bulbs have been badly packed, bulb desiccation, resulting in shorter stems and fewer flower
Another important point to remember is that box temperatures can rapidly increase to far above
the temperature inside the storage owing to accelerated bulb respiration.
Bulb size
It is better to use the smallest recommended bulb size for the various lily groups when conditions
are favorable i.e. during a period with sufficiently low temperatures for plants at the development
stage e.g. when planting in December through to March. In light deficient periods a slightly
smaller (+wider planting) and during a high temperature period a larger bulb size should be used.
Note that there is a greater risk of leaf scorch when using larger bulb sizes of certain cultivars
among the Asiatic and Oriental hybrid groups.
The choice of bulb size also depends on the required flower quantity. As a general rule, the
smaller the bulb the less buds per stem, and the shorter the stem the lighter the plant will be.
The table below shows the range of bulb sizes for each lily group.
Bulb size per group
Asiatic hybrids 9-10 cm, 10-12 cm,12-14 cm, 14-16 cm,16 cm and higher
Oriental hybrids 12-14 cm, 14-16 cm, 16-18 cm, 18-20, 20-22 cm and 22 cm and higher
Longiflorum hybrids 10-12 cm, 12-14 cm,14-16 cm, 16 cm and higher
L/A hybrids 10-12 cm, 12-14 cm,14 cm and higher
Cultivation site
Lilies are grown in glass or plastic houses, either direct in the border soil or in boxes. This
ensures crops are not affected by unfavorable weather conditions and the environment can be
Outdoor cultivation of lilies is only possible in regions where the climate remains favorable
during the cultivation period. It is necessary for growers to realize the risks involved in outdoor
cultivation, especially strong winds, hail, periods of frost and a high humidity (Botrytis).
Outdoor cultivation demands particularly strong, moisture-retaining and well-drained soils plus
a good irrigation system, and wind and shade screens. These are needed to achieve sufficiently
long stems during the summer months. The choice of cultivar (long-stemmed cultivars) is also

Planting procedures, plant depth and crop mulch

During the first three weeks after planting a lily bulb depends on roots already formed before
planting for its uptake of water, oxygen and nutrients. It is therefore important that bulbs have
vigorous, disease-free, fleshly roots when planted. When the lily stem starts to grow above the
soil, the so-called stem roots start developing on the underground portion of the stem, directly
above the bulb. These roots quickly take over from the bulb roots and supply the plant with 90%
of its water and nutrient uptake. To obtain high quality lilies, roots must be allowed to develop
To ensure good root development bear the following six points in mind:
only plant in disease-free soil
make sure the soil is sufficiently cool. Take this into account even before planting, by
shading, aerating and using cold irrigation water. Cover the soil immediately after
planting with suitable compounds such as potting compost, rice chaff, straw etc. to
prevent heat penetration, drying out and soil structure deterioration
in warm weather only plant in the morning or evening
postpone planting for one or two days in warm weather
prevent bulbs drying out when planting by only planting a small number of bulbs at a
time in the bed or by planting directly from the boxes. Dried out bulb scales or bulb roots
will always result in quality loss
plant bulbs sufficiently deep in a slightly moist soil; with a layer of 6 cm - 8 cm soil in the
winter and 8 cm - 10 cm of soil in the summer on the top of the upright bulb. To prevent
bulb roots from damage do not plant too firmly.
Planting density
Plant growth varies considerably between the groups, cultivars and bulb size planted, all of
which influence the optimum planting density. The planting density is also affected by the
season and the soil type. A high planting density is advised in the months of high temperature
when light intensity is high.
In poor light periods (winter) or under poor light conditions a lower density should be used. On
heavy soils, for example peat, vigorous growth occurs and therefore plants can be spaced wider
apart. The table indicates the minimum and maximum planting densities per net m2 for the
various bulb sizes of each group.
Depending on the time of year and the cultivar it may be necessary to stake plants during the
growing period. It will always be necessary to stake plants during the winter months and for the
remaining months cultivars longer than 80-100 cm will often need staking. If stems are pulled up
during harvesting instead of being cut then the remaining stems will definitely need support to
prevent toppling. Chrysanthemum netting is frequently used to support lilies and during the
growing period the height of this netting should increase parallel to the growth of the lilies.

Nitrogen should be applied to both nutrient-rich and impoverished soils in the ratio of 1 kg of
calcium nitrate per 100 m2, three weeks after planting.
If plants are weak during the growing period due to nitrogen deficiency, then a top dressing of 1
kg of quick-release nitrogen per 100 m2 can be applied up to three weeks before harvesting.
The dressing can be applied either through the irrigation system or by hand between dry plants.
To prevent leaf scorch when applying via the irrigation system, wash off the crop well with clean
water after the nitrogen application.
Based on pratical experience and test results, target standards for lilies have been developed in
order to achieve acceptable crop growth and flowering.
Mineral fertilizers may be scattered between the crop by hand. However, to minimize leaf scorch
it is better to distribute the fertilizer by means of an irrigation system. Liquid fertilizer may be
made up from water-soluble nutrients without residue agents. The second table shows the
standard nutrient solutions suitable for lilies. To prevent leaf scorch, rinse with clean water after
applying the nutrient solution.
Moisten the soil a few days before planting to enable rooting to start straight after planting.
Water copiously several times directly after planting to prevent the soil collapsing or deteriorating
and to allow the bulbs and the bulb roots to be in close contact with the soil. Check!
Because the stem roots develop in the top layer it must be kept constantly moist. However too
much moisture should be avoided as this will have a detrimental effect on the oxygen supply to
the roots which in turn will adversely affect the root function. The amount of water depends on
the type of soil, the greenhouse climate, the cultivar, the development of the crop and the salt
level of the soil. During dry periods, water consumption could increase to 8 to 9 litres per m2
daily. A good way to check the correct moisture level of the soil is to squeeze some soil in your
hand. An indication of the correct moisture level is if it is almost impossible to squeeze moisture
from the soil at the same time the soil stays balled. Regularly check the irrigation systems
water distribution.
The best time for watering is early in the morning so that the crop will be dry by the evening. If
necessary turn up the heating or ventilate to prevent Botrytis disease.
Weed control
Do not use herbicides for weed control unless this is absolutely necessary. Far better to remove
all weeds or to sterilize the soil before planting by steaming or inundating it. The use of
herbicides always involves a risk of damage.
After the emergence of shoots but before the foliage opens up significantly, small weeds can be
controlled, in the greenhouse or in the field, by spraying with a suitable herbicide. If much annual
meadow grass is present which is not controlled by one herbicide, a combination of herbicides
should be used.
Always spray towards the evening on a dry crop using 5 litres of water per 100 m2. The following
morning, rinse off the crop thoroughly by means of irrigation. Because of the persistence of
herbicides, keep the following points in mind: limit spraying frequency to no more than twice a
year on the same site, always apply site by site, and check for damage in succeeding crops.
Further information on the use of herbicides is available from your local information office.

Crop control
It is essential to regularly check the crop and at the same time the soil. The points to pay
attention to are:
soil: dry areas, EC, structure, weed growth, temperature
crop: stage of growth, color, aphids, thrips
Botrytis, Pythium greenhouse: climate, plant support.

5. Greenhouse environment
Temperature: Introduction
A good root system is of paramount importance in achieving a high quality product as far as lily
cultivation is concerned. With this in mind, the optimum recommendation would be for a low,
initial (rooting) temperature of between 12C to 13C for the first third of the growing cycle or at
least until the stem roots have developed. Lower initial temperatures will extend the growing
period unnecessarily and temperatures higher than 15C will result in a poorer quality product.
Soil cooling could be indispensable during the warmer months. Cooling should be reduced very
gradually after 1/3 of the growing cycle is over.
Temperature: Asiatic hybrids
To obtain the best quality, a daily temperature of 14C to 15C should be maintained for the
remainder of the growing period. During the day, the sun may cause the temperature to rise to
20C, possibly to 25C, and the temperature at night may drop to between 8C to 10C (make
sure the environment is not too moist), which is acceptable. This is one way to save energy
during the spring and autumn, provided the crop quality and the speed of growth remain
constant. To obtain longer stems or to prevent bud drop it is sensible to lower the temperature
from 14C/15C by 1C to 1.5C if cultivars are too short or if production is in poor light periods.
Temperature: Oriental hybrids
After the rooting period, the optimum daily greenhouse temperature is between 15C to 17C. It
should be noted that only increases in temperature are acceptable to 20C-22C, possibly to
25C. Temperatures below 15C can result in bud drop and yellowing of foliage.
Temperature: Longiflorum hybrids
The best greenhouse temperature for these lilies after rooting is a temperature of 14C to 16C.
The sun may also increase the temperature for these lilies and a temperature of 20C to 22C is
Under poor light conditions, the greenhouse temperature may be reduced by 1C to 1.5C.
A minimum day and night temperature of 14C must be maintained to prevent discoloring and
splitting of the flower petals.
Temperature: General information
During late autumn, winter and early spring it is not normally difficult to maintain the abovementioned greenhouse temperatures. However the opposite is true for the summer months. Even
before planting but also during cultivation it will be necessary to ventilate, screen and use cold
water to maintain the recommended temperatures. High temperatures produce reduced stem
length and fewer buds per stem.

Relative humidity
A suitable relative humidity level is between 80% to 85%. It is important to avoid large
fluctuations in levels and any changes should occur gradually. Rapid changes cause stress which
could result in leaf scorch in susceptible cultivars. Use screening, prompt ventilation and
watering to prevent these problems.
It is not advisable to suddenly ventilate during the day on very warm days or very cold days
(freezing open weather) when the relative humidity of the outdoor air is very low; it is better to
ventilate early in the morning when the relative humidity outdoors is higher. Watering copiously
during the day with a low relative humidity level inside the greenhouse is not the right thing to do
either. Watering early in the morning is the best time to water in these conditions.
In mild, poor light, calm or damp weather conditions, relative humidity is often very high and
measures will have to be taken to decrease the r.h. by heating and ventilating simultaneously.
Ventilating is an extremely important factor when considering temperature control and
decreasing air humidity levels. An important point to remember here is that air humidity levels
inside the greenhouse must not drop too quickly as a rapid withdrawal of moisture can result in
leaf scorch and quality loss.
The use of screens can affect temperature levels, air humidity levels and light conditions inside
the greenhouse. During months of high light intensity, temperatures inside the greenhouse can
rise dramatically in spite of ventilation. In conditions like this it will be necessary to screen to
prevent a poor quality crop. For further information see Lighting equipment and Screening
During summer months in countries with a high light intensity, growers can reduce light level by
50% for Asiatic and Longiflorum hybrids and 70% for Oriental hybrids.
CO2 has a positive effect on the growth and flowering of lilies. Try to achieve a concentration of
800 to 1000 ppm. A higher concentration ( 2000 ppm) is needed for the Longiflorum hybrids as
this group uses high levels of CO2.

6. Other cultivation systems

The benefits of box cultivation
The cultivation of lilies in boxes is increasing both in the Netherlands and elsewhere. The
reasons for this are:
a specific rooting room for cultivation means:
o improved crop quality because of the low and controlled starting temperature resulting
for example in longer plants (the possibility of summer cultivation of Star Gazer and other
o a shorter greenhouse period, which means more efficient use of the greenhouse, plus the
benefit of energy-saving during the winter months
o distribution of labour
o more opportunities for crop scheduling
o disease control due to the use of fresh rooting media e.g. potting compost, with the right
structure (good drainage/aeration)
a large improvement in the crop. This is particularly so with the Oriental hybrids
the possibility of linking cultivation methods to an environmentally friendly cultivation
Besides the benefits mentioned above there are also a number of disadvantages such as the
high labour usage and the additional capital needed for box cultivation.
Box cultivation: Rooting medium
The substrate recommended for box cultivation should be a good moisture-retentive and light
medium. A popular substrate is potting compost; a mixture of different types of peat plus some
perlite (fluorine free!) or sterilized rice chaff or garden soil or coarse-grained sand if possible.
Good and frequently used mixed peats for lilies include a 40% to 80% peat mixture of black peat
well frozen for a year plus 60% to 20% peat litter (white peat). The pH should be increased to 6 to
7. The rule of thumb for increasing the pH by a factor of 0.4 is to add 1 kg of calcium carbonate
retaining lime per m3.
As a base fertilizer, 0.5 kg 12-14-24 including trace elements per m3, should be added to potting
compost mixtures. If the potting compost is to be recycled for use for a number of successive
crops then it should first be sterilized before re-use. This can be done by steaming or with a
fungicide. Prolonged use of recycled compost leads to a loss of quality as a result of structure
and disease problems and it is therefore not recommended. The potting compost should be
reasonably moist when crops are planted.
Box cultivation: Planting method
Lily/tulip storage containers are usually used as boxes. They should have a minimum inside
depth of approx. 12 to 14 cm. Bulbs are planted with at least 1 cm of soil under the bulb and 8 cm
of soil on top of the bulb. The criteria that applies here is that the deeper the layer the bigger the
water buffer. The depth of the compost under the bulb is not that important and its main function
is to support bulbs during planting to ensure a good surface distribution of bulbs. The plant
density corresponds to the density of bulbs planted in border soil in the greenhouse.

Box cultivation: Rooting room

Boxes can be placed in the greenhouse directly after planting or they can be put into cold storage
(the rooting room) for periods ranging from one to a number of weeks. Because of shoot
development it is better to stack boxes in a criss-cross fashion rather than place them vertically
on top of one another. Development and growth of the bulb and stem roots can then take place
under ideal conditions. If boxes are brought into the greenhouse every week, it is possible that
during periods of warm weather crops from boxes brought into the greenhouse at different times
will start to flower simultaneously. This can be prevented by maintaining a rooting temperature of
The temperature in the rooting room can vary from -0.5C, which completely inhibits
development, to 12C to 13C. The latter temperature is the optimum temperature for rapid root
development. Boxes can then be placed in the greenhouse approx. 3 to 4 weeks after planting.
The visible part of the shoot should not be longer than 8 cm to 10 cm at this stage.
Box cultivation: Cultivation procedures
After the boxes have been placed in the greenhouse, extra attention will have to be given to
watering. The soil in the boxes does tend to dry out quickly and therefore needs to be watered
more regularly. The soil should be kept constantly slightly moist. Drip irrigation systems, such as
an an online system, will be a useful asset here.
As far as other cultivation procedures are concerned, they are similar to those which apply to
direct planting in the greenhouse.
Outdoor cultivation: Introduction
Lilies can also be planted outdoors for a one-year or multi-year growing period. However results
depend a great deal on weather conditions, the soil type (heavier soils produce shorter plants)
and the cultivar in question. Choosing whether to keep lilies long-term depends on the type of
soil (lighter soils results in very limited bulb growth) plus bulb prices. Should the crop quality of
cheaper cultivars decline it may be better financially to replace old bulbs with new ones every
The choice of cultivar depends on the soil type (heavier soil = shorter plants and therefore taller
cultivars should be used), the Botrytis susceptibility of cultivars and if shading is to be used
during cultivation. Shading produces taller plants. Short cultivars are not suitable for outdoor
Outdoor cultivation: Planting time
The best time to plant is from spring onwards when there is less chance of heavy night frosts. The
latest time to plant depends on the regional climate during the growing period. For example,
harvesting should be completed before the average 24-hour temperature has dropped to below
11C in the case of Asiatic and Longiflorum hybrids and to 13C in the case of Oriental hybrids.
Experience has shown that it is better to plant bulbs intended for long-term crops in the spring as
this means enhanced crop quality in the second year.
Planting in late autumn can only be done if bulbs do not run the risk of frost damage during the
winter and are not troubled by night frosts once they start to emerge in spring. In dry soils, even a
light night frost (-1C and lower) can cause damage to emerged lilies. Therefore keep the soil
moist and water lilies during the night frost period. Damage will however occur if temperatures
drop to below -5C in spite off watering.

Outdoor cultivation:
cultivation: Planting method
It is preferable to use the larger bulb sizes (taller plants) provided the cultivar is not susceptible
to leaf scorch. This also applies to long-term crop cultivation as this ensures good stem quality in
subsequent years. If bulbs are planted during warm weather, there will be a greater chance of
bulbs producing double noses the following year. This depends on the cultivar and bulb size, as
bigger bulbs are more likely to produce double noses. Outdoors bulbs are planted with 10 to 15
cm of soil on top of the bulbs. Plant density depends on the number of years the crop will be
grown. For one-year cultivation, plant density should be 10% higher and with long-term
cultivation the density should be 15% to 20% lower as indicated for greenhouse cultivation per
cultivar, bulb size and time of year.
Outdoor cultivation: Other cultivation procedures
Nutrition is similar to that for greenhouse cultivation. If artificial fertilizers cannot be applied
through the irrigation system during cultivation, an increased quantity of base dressing or a slowrelease fertilizer will have to be applied provided salt levels in the soil will allow it.
If possible, crops should be shaded during cultivation to improve crop length and crop quality.
Particular attention will have to be paid to the control of Botrytis, aphids and virus diseases
during cultivation.
For long-term cultivation, a healthy cultivar and also the demand for a particular cultivar will be
vital factors in determining profits. If neither of these factors are present cultivation should be
Pot lilies: Introduction
Besides production for the cut flower trade, the cultivation of pot lilies for use indoors, on the
patio or the garden can also be an extremely viable option. Up until recently shorter cut lilies
were used for this. By using chemical growth regulators such as paclobutrazol (Bonzi) and
ancymidol (Reducymol), applied by watering onto the pot, spraying the foliage or by immersing
bulbs, lilies were kept short with an optimum stem length of 30 cm to 40 cm. However, results
were extremely variable depending on a large number of factors such as the growing period, the
substrate used, the cultivation temperature and the cultivar qualities. Nowadays there are a large
number of genetically short lilies (see table) in a wide variety of colors available for continious
cultivation and growth regulators no longer need to be used. Pot cultivation is very similar to cut
flower cultivation. The specific cultivation procedures are as follows:
Pot lilies: Planting method
A number of bulb sizes can be used for pot lilies; the most suitable are listed in the table,
although this always depends on the total foliage volume of the cultivar. Furthermore the table
compares the various lily groups and the number of bulbs needed per pot. The bulb size chosen
must meet the required minimum number of buds per pot, also listed in the table. The table also
indicates the bulb sizes required per pot for planting 1,3 or 5 bulbs per pot.
Larger bulb sizes should be chosen for the following: double nosed bulbs, bulbs planted in
summer, Longiflorum hybrids planted in the autumn and bulbs to be grown with the aid of
assimilation lamps.
The best choice of substrate to use in pots is a disease-free, moisture retentive, light medium
with a pH between 6 and 7. Potting compost (see Box cultivation, sub-heading: Substrate)
supplemented by 30% drift sand or perlite (fluorine free) is very suitable for use in pots. Add a
base dressing of 1 to 1.5 kg Osmocote 14-14-14 and 1 to 2 kg sulphate of potash-magnesia per

m3. Bulbs should be planted at the bottom of the pot on a 1 cm layer of potting compost and, if 2
or more bulbs are planted per pot, the bulb noses should face the out sided of the pot. Top up
with potting soil. After planting, ensure that the substrate is thoroughly moist.
Pot lilies: Cultivation procedures
Keep the substrate in the pot reasonably moist. There is a chance of yellow foliage occurring
during the growing period. This can be caused by the habit of the cultivar, poor light conditions
(too many pots per m2), a crop which is grown under too moist conditions or Pythium attack.
For the optimum greenhouse climate you are referred to the relevant chapter for cut flower lilies.
Research has shown that by maintaining an increased night-time temperature, compared to the
daytime temperature, a shorter stem can be achieved. This method is known as the Dif-method. If
possible, the daytime temperature can be lowered compared to the nighttime temperature.
Reducing the day-time temperature during the first two hours after sunrise compared to the same
reduction in temperature during the rest of the day has an enormous effect on the development
of the stem length (reduced stem length). When applying this technique, you should realise that
for a plant the day begins at sunrise and ends at sunset but the effects of changing weather
conditions should also be considered.
Pot lilies: Harvesting and post harvest treatment
Pot lilies are marketed when the lower buds show sufficient color. The distribution chain should
be kept as short as possible to prevent bud drop as a result of poor light. It is unacceptable to
dispatch lilies at an earlier stage of development due to increased susceptibility to lack of light.
To guarantee good appearance of the pot lilies, it is important to make sure pots are clean before
are dispatch and that sufficient water has been given. If necessary any yellow leaves should be
removed. Provide pots with a label displaying a product photograph plus tips for consumers and
ensure that pot lilies are attractively sleeved.
Avoid storing pot lilies in a cold store; if lilies must be placed in cold store ensure the duration is
as short as possible. The minimum temperature should be +5C, both in the cold store and
during transportation. It is possible to store Asiatic hybrids at a temperature of +3C.
Although these temperatures do not stop flower development, lower temperatures can cause
insufficient opening of the flower buds once bought by consumers.

7. Harvesting and post harvest treatment

Flowering and harvesting
For good results for the final customer i.e. the consumer it is vitally important to harvest lilies
when they are sufficiently developed but not over-mature.
Before harvesting stems with ten or more buds must be at a stage when at least three buds show
color, stems with five to ten buds must have at least two in color and stems with less than five
buds must have at least one bud in color. Harvesting at an earlier stage results in miserable, pale
flowers with some buds that fail to open. Over-mature harvesting i.e. when several buds have
already opened can result in post harvest and distribution problems, including spotting by
pollen, bruising of the petals and opened flowers as a result of ethylene emissions produced by
already opened flowers. If necessary cut off any open flowers.
During harvesting, it is better to cut stems rather than to pull them. Pulling causes a lot of root
disturbance to the remaining plants and if wire support netting has not been used plants can
even topple. In fact stems of Oriental and Longiflorum hybrids cannot be pulled because of their
strong root development. It is preferable to harvest lilies in the morning to limit desiccation and
for the same reason also to limit the dry storage period in the greenhouse to a maximum of 30
Grading and bunching
After harvesting, stems are graded according to the number of flower buds per stem, length and
firmness of stems and any possible foliage and flower bud abnormalities. The lily stems are then
bunched and during this process 10 cm of foliage is removed from the bottom of the stem. This is
done manually or with a special defoliating machine. Defoliating enhances presentation and also
increases the vase-life of lilies as less water pollution will occur. Any yellow or damaged foliage is
also removed. After bunching, stems are cut if lilies are to be placed in water. The final stage,
wrapping, is then carried out. The wrap used for lilies should protect both the flower buds and
the foliage. The grading and bunching processes can be carried out mechanically by using a socalled flower bunching line.
This results in a drastic reduction in the handling phase (harvesting - placing in water), which, to
prevent drying out, should only last for a maximum of 1 hour.
In addition this improves the physical comfort of staff while working at the flower bunching line.
If it is not possible to grade and bunch lilies immediately after harvesting then the best thing to
do is to place them in cold storage in clean water immediately. For Asiatic hybrids, a pretreatment agent can be added to the water.
After bunching, lilies need to be placed directly in water in the cold storage room. Add pretreatment agents of silver thiosulfate + GA3 (e.g. 6 ml Chrysal A.V.V. + one S.V.B. tablet per 3
litres of water) to the water of Asiatic hybrids. The pre-treatment agent silver thiosulfate can be
harmful when used for other lily groups.
If the weather is warm it is advisable to use pre-cooled water as flowers will not mature so
quickly. At 2C to 3C the minimum and maximum treatment period of flower conditions is 4 and
48 hours respectively. If it is not possible to continue treatment for 4 hours, then maintain a
treatment period of at least 2 hours in the processing room as this will improve the keeping
quality of lilies during the distribution stage as they will then be less susceptible to ethylene. The
solution can only be used for a maximum of one week until it becomes cloudy.

When lilies have absorbed sufficient quantities of water they can be stored dry in the cold store
room, although it is better to continue storage in clean water.
The optimum storage temperature of cut lilies is 2C to 3C and storage time should be kept as
short as possible. It is a well-known fact that the Oriental hybrid Star Gazer will show brown
spots on the outside of the petals if harvested at a greenhouse temperature of 30C or higher and
subsequently stored at 2C to 3C. In these conditions it is advisable to store at a temperature of
at least 4C.
Before dispatch, lilies are packed into perforated boxes to prevent high concentrations of
ethylene produced by the open flowers.
The ethylene gas causes rapid maturity which shows as miserable flowers, bud drop and reduced
keeping quality.
During packaging make sure the stems are put into the box in a dry state as this will prevent over
heating and development of fungi. It is essential that lilies are transported at low temperatures,
preferably in refrigerated vehicles (+2C to +3C) as this will prevent flower bud development and
also the harmful effects of ethylene. During long-haul transportation, it is certainly advisable to
pre-cool the boxes before they are dispatched.
On arrival at the wholesalers or retailers, after stems have been cut again, lilies should be
placed in clean water at a storage temperature of 1C to 5C.

8. Planning and labour

It is vital to plan in advance to achieve optimum scheduling, production and commercial results
and it is of paramount importance to carry out a thorough study of the sales potential and price
expectation beforehand. A general assumption is that a regular supply of flowers in various
colors creates a favorable market. Even so, during times of increased market demand for flowers,
customers will still expect products to be available. This is why good planning is vital. It is also
crucial to determine the correct delivery date of bulbs and to ensure that the greenhouse is not
unnecessarily empty; furthermore planning ensures an even distribution of labour. An essential
aspect of sound planning is to draw up planting schedules 1 to 2 years in advance. Early planning
also gives the grower time to order limited supplies of certain cultivars on time. Data is necessary
to prepare plant schedules and information gathered from your own business will certainly be
useful for this. The so-called registration system is a way for you to compile the information you
will need for worthwhile planning (company management).
Important information needed for planning:
the net greenhouse floor area available or, for outdoor cultivation, the net ground area
the cultivar, with relevant information on its growing period and qualities plus
information on its suitability for year-round cultivation and its availability
storage period for bulbs; newly harvested bulbs are slower (2 weeks) and tend to
emerge more irregularly than bulbs from the previous year
the right time to apply general soil sterilization if necessary
cultivation temperatures required
planting density
planting date
date of complete harvest
time required to prepare soil for planting
labour required and labour available
assessment of the financial yield
Labour requirements
To compile a planning schedule, it is extremely important to have details on the labour
requirements during cultivation, particularly details on all the specific activities involved.
Activities during and immediately after harvesting accounts for about 50% to 60% of the labour
requirements. Therefore it is essential to spread harvesting to prevent large labour peaks.
A flower bunching line does show a saving of 15% on labour requirements during harvesting
and post harvest treatment.

9. Crop protection and disease control

General soil treatment: Introduction
Since the soil must be free of pathogens, cultivation must take place under optimum conditions.
If the soil needs treatment, this can best be done by use of annual soil sterilization. Steaming or
use of a chemical soil sterilant are both possible methods of disinfection. The effect of steaming
and chemical soil disinfection is determined by temperature, time and concentration.
General soil treatment: Steaming
When steaming at a soil depth of 25 cm to 30 cm, a temperature of between 70C and 80C
should be maintained for at least 1 hour.
Steaming with low pressure gives better results than at high pressure. Nearly all soil problems
can be controlled using this method except for the Pythium fungus, which is usually not
adequately controlled. This means that a supplementary chemical treatment is nearly always
necessary. On silt-retaining soils with a low pH, steaming can lead to excess of manganese.
Steaming for a short period in a light and dry soil where the pH level has been raised by a lime
application beforehand will help restrict this excess of manganese.
General soil treatment: Chemical treatment
A chemical sterilant is most effective at soil temperatures of at least 10-12C, while the soil is
covered with plastic film. After 7-10 days (in summer 3 days will suffice), the plastic can be
removed. For more information concerning the sterilants to be used and the application method,
we refer you to your local information service.
Additional soil treatment
Due to the rapid regrowth of Pythium fungus, a general soil treatment applied once a year is not
enough. To control this fungus, the soil need additional treatment using a fungicide applied
immediately before every planting or crop.
All fungicides used should be mixed evenly through the top soil to a depth of 10-15 cm. To obtain
good distribution, fungicides in powdered form are mixed with sand and then applied by hand or
mixed with lukewarm water, sprayed through a wide angled spray nozzle and then worked in
thoroughly with a rotary cultivator. With soils susceptible to structural damage, working the
fungicides initially through the soil manually and then lightly working them into the soil with a
rotary cultivator is recommended. For information concerning the recommended fungicides and
how much to apply, we refer you to your local information service.
Potting compost can also be infected with the Pythium fungus. It is unusual for fresh potting
compost to be infected but in recycled potting compost there is a very definite risk of infection.
Therefore the compost should be treated beforehand with an effective soil applied fungicide
against Pythium. If necessary, an effective fungicide can be watered into the crop during
cultivation (see root rot).
Bulb treatment
Bulb disinfection just before planting is not carried out by lily growers as bulbs will have already
been disinfected by suppliers before packing. Bulb disinfection will therefore not be discussed

Diseases caused by fungi: Penicillium

During storage, diseased areas, covered first with a white, and later on with a fluffy, bluish-green
fungus, are visible on the scales. After the initial infection and during the entire storage period
the rot will gradually increase, even when temperatures are low (-2C). The infection can
eventually penetrate the basal plate making bulbs worthless or affecting bulbs so that they
produce extremely retarded plants.
Although infected bulbs do not always look very healthy, plant growth will not be affected as long
as the basal plate remains intact. After planting, the infection is not transmitted to the stem and
rarely infects plants from the soil.
The infection is caused by the Penicillium fungus and is transmitted during storage when the
fungus penetrates tissue via wounds.
Prevent desiccation of the bulb during storage and store at the lowest recommended
Do not plant bulbs which have an infected basal plate
Plant infected batches as quickly as possible, preferably in the period from December to
March (slow start)
Before and after planting, maintain a suitably moist soil.
Diseases caused by fungi: Bulb and scale rot and F
Plants infected with bulb and scale rot will remain retarded in growth. The foliage of these plants
is pale green in color. Underground, brown spots will appear on the top and sides of the bulb
scales or at the junction of the bulb scales with the basal plate. These spots will eventually start
to rot (scale rot). If the basal plate and the scales are infected at the base then the bulb develop
bulb rot. Fusarium stem disease is an above-ground infection recogni-zable by the premature
yellowing of the lower leaves, which turns brown and drops. On the underground part of the
stem, orange to dark brown spots appear which later become enlarged and spread to the internal
part of the stem. Rotting occurs and plants finally die prematurely.
Bulb and scale rot as well as Fusarium stem disease are caused by both Fusarium oxysporum and
Cylindrocarpon destructans. These fungi infect the underground parts of the plants where
wounds occur as a result of splitting bulb and stem roots or by a parasite infestation. The fungi
can be transmitted on the bulb but the plants can also become infected from the soil. Certain
cultivars are particularly susceptible to infection.
Treat the infected soil or suspect soil by applying a general soil fungicide (see General
soil treatment)
Batches which are slightly or moderately infected should be planted as soon as possible
at low soil temperatures. It is preferable to only plant these bulbs in the period from
December to March
Maintain the lowest possible soil and greenhouse temperatures during summer

Diseases caused by fungi: Rhizoctonia

If the infection is slight, damage will be restric-ted to the lower green leaves of the young shoot.
Sunken light brown spots appear on the leaves. In general, the plant will continue to grow
although it will be a little retarded. The growth of badly infected plants will be checked above
ground, and the white, underground foliage and the first leaves above the ground will be rotten
or will wilt and drop, leaving a brown scar on the stem. The younger leaves and the growing point
are usually damaged. Plants infected as badly as this will have poor stem root development,
which in turn will result in retarded growth and unsatisfactory flowering or no flowers at all, as
flower buds will have desiccated at an early stage.
The disease is caused by the fungus Rhizoctonia solani. The fungus mainly attacks the plant from
the soil and is most active in moist conditions at temperatures above 15C. The same fungus can
affect a large number of other plants such as tulips, irises, chrysanthemums and tomatoes so
that many soils can be infected with this fungus.
Disinfect infected or suspect soil using a general soil fungicide (see General soil
treatment). After disinfection it will be essential to ensure the soil is not re-infected,
particularly during the summer months when soil temperatures are high. Hygiene is a
particularly important factor and if necessary the use of a supplementary soil fungicide
(see below) may need to be considered.
If it is not possible to apply a general soil fungicide and previous crops have shown that
infection is likely, then pre-treat the soil with a suitable Rhizoctonia control fungicide
(incorporate thoroughly to a depth of 10 cm) before plan-ting
Summer crops (soil temperature above 16C) always require soil treatment
Ensure rapid shoot development: provide the soil with sufficient moisture; plant bulbs
with good root systems
During the summer maintain the lowest possible soil temperature.
Diseases caused by fungi: Phytophthora
Plants with foot rot (Phytophthora) are retarded in growth or wilt suddenly. The stem base is
infected with soft rot and is dark green to dark brown in color, spreading upwards. The leaves
become yellow, and start to discolor at the base of the stem.
A similar soft rot infection often occurs in the part of the stem above the ground causing the stem
to topple or bend.
This disease is primarily caused by the fungus Phythopthora nicotianae but can also be caused
by Phytophthora parasitica. Phythophthora is unknown in the Dutch bulb growing industry;
however in sub-tropical climates it can affect a wide variety of plants and consequently can be
found in most cultivated soils. The disease is prevalent in soils after the cultivation of tomatoes
and gerbera and can remain in moist soils for a number of years. Soils which are too moist and
have high temperatures (above 20C) will encourage this disease.
Give infected soil a general soil treatment (see General Soil Treatment).
A supplementary soil treatment or an application during cultivation with the fungicide
used for Pythium control is also an effective method of controlling foot rot
Ensure that the soil is well drained

Prevent the crop from remaining wet for long periods after watering
Maintain the lowest possible soil temperature during the summer months.

Diseases caused by fungi: Pythium

This fungus affects either single plants or plants within a limited area. Plants remain short, the
lower foliage turns yellow and the upper foliage becomes narrower, of a paler color and usually
wilts especially under conditions of high transpiration. There is a greater amount of flower bud
desiccation in plants affected by root rot and these plants are affected by bud drop during the
winter months. In all cases the flowers are smaller and they often do not fully open or they do not
color teadily. When lifted, either transparent, light brown, rotting areas are visible on the bulb
and stem roots or they are completely limp and watery.
This form of root rot is caused by Pythium fungi, with Pythium ultimum the most frequently
occuring fungus. These fungi generally thrive in moist conditions and at temperatures of 20C 30C. The fungus remains both in the soil and in the bulb roots. Unsatisfactory cultivation
conditions, such as bad soil structure and soils with high salt content or soils which are too
moist stimulate this root disease.
Give infected or suspected soil a general soil treatment (see General Soil Treatment)
Give an additional soil treatment immediately before planting (see additional soil
Maintain a low soil temperature during the initial cultivation phase and follow the correct
cultivation procedures throughout the entire growing period
Cultivation in boxes containing potting compost plus peat will keep pythium in check.
The same result can be obtained by working potting compost into the greenhouse soil
After the crop has emerged or if Pythium infection is likely, a fungicide effective against
Pythium which can easily be watered onto the crop can be used, preferably in the
evening. Water for a few minutes (approx. 3 min.) before and after the fungicide has been
applied will greatly increase the fungicides effect, while washing the crop clean at the
same time
If an infection has been noted, it is advisable to restrict evaporation by the crop by
maintaining the coolest possible greenhouse and soil temperatures. This can be
achieved by mainly ventilating and screening. The soil should always be kept slightly
Diseases caused by fungi: Botrytis
Small, dark brown dots with a diameter of between 1 mm - 2 mm are visible on the foliage. In
moist conditions they can quickly develop into larger, round or oval, sharply defined spots, which
are visible on both sides of the leaf. The infected tissue gradually dies off (it becomes withered
and papery). The infection can start in the middle of the leaf blade but also at the edge causing a
deformed and growth-retarded leaf to develop.
Stems can also be affected and should the infection spread, the leaves generally die off at the
infection site. Flower buds can also become infected, resulting in buds rotting completely or in
deformed development.
During the first, initial stages of infection, raised areas appear on the outer petals of infected
buds. Opened flowers are particularly susceptible to infection which is characterized by the
appearance of grey, watery, round spots known as fire spots.

Fire is mainly caused by Botrytis elliptica. In moist conditions, Botrytis elliptica develops
spores which are rapidly spread by wind and rain to neighbouring plants. Spores do not
germinate on dry plants, which do not therefore become infected.
Keep the crop dry by adopting the following practices:
a. space the crops more widely in wet seasons
b. control weed growth
c. water in the mornings, ventilate and heat a little at the same time. Ensure that the crop dries
When an infection is suspected (in wet periods), spray frequently with alternating Botrytis
fungicides in the early stages.
Spray with a fungus-controlling fungicide before flowering, but make sure it does not
leave any visible residues or depost.
Carefully remove all plant remains after cropping.
Damage by pests: Aphids
The lower leaves develop normally in infested plants. The upper leaves curl at an early stage of
development and are deformed. The aphids only live on young leaves, particularly on the
underside. The yound buds can also become damaged, resulting in the appearance of green
spots and flowers can be partially deformed.
The infestation is caused by aphids sucking cell sap. Various aphids can be found on lilies
including Neomyzus circumflexus.
Control weeds which often act as host for aphids.
Spray crops weekly with an insecticide if the presence of aphids has been established,
alternating products to prevent resistance.
If necessary, fumigate the crop shortly before harvest as this will prevent unslightly
residues on the flower buds. A greenhouse temperature above 14C for the first 5 hours is
needed for this. Crops should be dry
To avoid aphids becoming resistant, alternate insecticides.
Abnormalities: Leaf scorch
Leaf scorch occurs at a time when flower buds are not yet visible. First of all, the young leaves
curl slightly inward and then a few days later greenish-yellow to whitish spots appear on the
scorched leaves.
If the leaf scorch is mild, plants will continue to grow normally but if plants are badly scorched
the white spots can turn brown in places and the leaf will bend where the damage has occured.
In very severe cases all leaves plus the tender young buds will be lost. Plants will then fail to
develop futher. This is known as top scorching.
Leaf scorch occurs when there is a disturbance in the balance between the absorption and
evaporation of water. This is a result of inadequate absorption or evaporation which causes a
calcium deficiency in the cells of the youngest leaves. Cells are destroyed and die. An abrupt
change in the relative humidity inside the greenhouse can substantially affect this process as

does a poor root system. High salt levels in the soil and plant growth which is too rapid compared
to the size of the root system are also factors. Susceptibility varies greatly with cultivar (see
Selection) and bulb size. Large bulbs are more susceptible than smaller ones.
Diseases and pests which could damage the roots should be effectively controlled
Soil should be moistened before planting
It is better not to use susceptible cultivars but if this cannot be avoided do not use larger
bulbs as these are extra sensitive
Plant bulbs with a good root system
Plant to an adequate depth, i.e. allow 6 cm - 10 cm of soil on top of the bulb
Prevent large differences in greenhouse temperatures and air humidity levels during
periods of increased susceptibility. Try to maintain an R.H. level of approx. 75%.
Rapid growth must be prevented. Therefore for susceptible Asiatic hybrids maintain a
greenhouse temperature of 10C-12C for the first 4 weeks and for the Oriental hybrids a
temperature of approx. 15C for the first 6 weeks. Therefore box cultivation with the use of
a rooting room is advisable
Ensure that plants maintain even transpiration and avoid excess transpiration by
shading, and during clear weather conditions lightly spray with water a few times a day.
Abnormalities: Bud drop and bud desiccation
Bud drop can occur from the time flower buds reach a length of 1 cm-2 cm. Buds turn light green
in color and, at the same time, a constriction of the flower stalk junction with the stem occurs.
Buds will subsequentely drop off. In spring, the lower buds are the first to be affected while the
higher buds drop first in the autumn. Bud desiccation can occur during all stages of
development. Buds turn completely white and dry out. These dried buds sometimes fall off.
Should bud desiccation occur during the initial stages of development these will later appear as
minute white spots in the leaf axils.
Bud drop occurs when plants receive insufficient light. In light deficient conditions the stamens
in the bud produce ethylene causing the buds to abort.
There is an increased risk of bud desiccation if rooting conditions are poor, e.g. too dry soil.
Do not allow cultivars susceptible to bud drop to grow in poor light conditions
To prevent bud desiccation, bulbs should not be allowed to dry out during planting.
Ensure that bulbs root well and grow in the most favorable conditions possible,
particularly as far as lighting and transpiration are concerned.
Nutrient deficiencies: Iron deficiency
The leaf tissue between the veins of the young leaves is yellowish-green, particularly in rapidly
growing plants. The greater the iron deficiency the more yellow the plant will become.
This abnormality occurs especially in calcium rich soils (high pH) and on light, silt soils or on
sites with excess water. It can also occur if soil temperatures are too low. The deficiency is
caused by a lack of plant absorbable iron. If only slight yellowing occurs it usually dissapears by

The susceptible lily groups include the Oriental and Longiflorum hybrids and the cultivar
Connecticut King.
Ensure that the soil is well drained with a sufficiently low pH (see pH). A good root system
also greatly reduces the risk of iron deficiency
Depending on the susceptibility of the crop to iron deficiency, iron chelate should be
added to soils with a pH higher than 6.5 before planting and, depending on the color of
the crop, a second application after planting. If the color of the plant is still not
satisfactory, another application can be given after approx. 2 weeks
With pH levels between 5.5-6.5, iron chelate should only be applied once or twice after
planting depending on the color of the crop, to cultivars susceptible to iron deficiency
The quantity of iron chelate to be applied depends on the pH of the soil and the time of
application. An iron chelate where the iron is bound to the organic compound EDDHA can
be used, even in soils with a pH of 12 (all soils) and can continue to be applied right up to
the last stages of cultivation. If the iron is bound to the organic compound DTPA then iron
chelate can only be used in soils with a pH of 7 and can be applied until the flower buds
are visible. An excess of Fe-DTPA can cause black spots to occur on the foliage
The dosage should be 2 g. - 3 g./m2 before planting (worked thoroughly into the soil) and
a max. of 2 g. after planting, using a max of 1-1,5 g/m2 if a second application is needed
The chelate can be applied either via the irrigation system or by hand mixed with dry sand
To prevent leaf scorch, the chelate should be applied in the early evening to a moist crop
when weather conditions are dull. Thorough washing off is essential
Use or make sure to use a test application of iron chelate when applying to new cultivars!
Nutrient deficiencies: Nitrogen deficiency
Nitrogen deficiency results in the whole leaf becoming lighter in color and this is often more
noticeable when plants are about to bloom. The plant often seems rather slight in appearance.
Soils with a low nitrogen level produce a crop with stems which are lighter in weight and have
less flower buds. Post-harvest foliage will turn yellow more quickly.
Always apply sufficient quantities of nitrogen, preferably based on the results of a soil
If a nitrogen deficiency is diagnosed during cultivation apply an additional application of
rapid-action nitrogen fertilizer. However, bear the risk of leaf scorch in mind during
application and make sure the crop is always washed off thoroughly.

10. Selection of cultivars

New cultivars from the various lily groups are introduced onto the market every year. This is in
itself not a bad strategy as it increases the uses for lilies. For the flower grower, it is difficult to
make a choice between the many new and existing cultivars. However careful selection is crucial
to the economic performance of the crop. The qualities and cultivation data of a large number of
cultivars as indicated in the tables may be of help to the grower when making this selection. The
supplier will also be only too pleased to be of assistance. When making a specific selection there
are a number of important aspects to consider. These aspects are related to either the lily group
or the cultivar.
Group selection
The following points should be considered when choosing between the various lily groups.
The financial aspect.
For example the costs involved in buying some of the cultivars from the Oriental hybrid
groups are high compared to the purchase of lilies from the Asiatic group.
Weather conditions.
Asiatic hybrids are more susceptible to insufficient light than other groups. Oriental and
Longiflorum hybrids require higher minimum temperatures than Asiatic hybrids.
Supply from stock.
It is not always possible to store bulbs from the Oriental and Longiflorum hybrids for the
same length of time, which means that supplies of all the cultivars in these groups are
not always available in the autumn.
Growing period.
On average Asiatic hybrids have a considerably shorter growing period than lilies from
the other groups.
Sales potential.
Oriental hybrids are bulkier than Asiatic hybrids and often exude a penetrating scent.
Longiflorum hybrids are often considered funeral flowers.
Plant familiarity.
For the grower, unfamiliarity with a particular group could involve risks when having to
make the right cultivation decisions. Therefore it is important to ask the supplier or the
information advisory for information on unfamiliar groups. Alternatively evaluate a new
cultivar yourself.
Cultivar selection

There is an extensive range of colors among Asiatic hybrids. However the range is more
limited when it comes to the other groups
Extra length is often financially rewarding. However long cultivars are more likely to be
susceptible to light deficient conditions and require a longer growing period, making
them less suitable for winter cultivation, whereas short cultivars are too short in the
summer. Short lilies are the only cultivars used for pot lilies
Growing period.
For a good programming schedule it is vital to have information on the growing period.

The growing periods shown in the tables are based on spring cultivation plus a
greenhouse temperature of approx. 14C. During the summer, the growing period will be
considerably shorter but will become increasingly longer in the autumn. During the early
spring period, old harvest bulbs are used instead of new harvest bulbs because old bulbs
come into flower more quickly and flower more evenly.
Number of buds and presentation.
A minimum requirement of the Asiatic and Oriental hybrids is the presence of five buds
on every cut stem. If the buds are extremely large, then 3-4 buds per stem will be
sufficient. Presentation is also important. Cultivars with smooth buds that are large and
well colored at the closed bud stage are preferred. Too much foliage which hides the
flowers is less acceptable
The firmness of stems can vary a great deal with each cultivar. The time of year is also
significant in determining how firm stems will be. Less sturdy cultivars will develop stems
which are too weak when growing during the autumn and winter.
Some cultivars e.g. Connecticut King, Sterling Star, Star Gazer can be susceptible to leaf
scorch. Smaller bulbs are less susceptible. Cultivars from the Oriental hybrid group,
Longiflorum hybrid groups and the cultivar Connecticut King are susceptible to iron
Light susceptibility.
Cultivars susceptible to bud drop should not be planted when the bud development
stage is reached during the dark winter months and should certainly not be planted in a
heavily shaded greenhouse or where light admission is poor due to old or dirty plastic
Keeping quality and vase life.
The keeping quality and vase life is a very important point to consider when selecting
cultivars. Although it is not prohibited to grow cultivars which have a short vase life, it is
advisable (especially bearing customer satisfaction in mind) to select cultivars which are
long lasting. Yellowing of foliage and buds which do not open satisfactorily are frequently
occurring factors which reduce the ornamental value of lilies.
The position of the flower.
Most Asiatic hybrids have erect flower buds. In other groups there are quite a number of
cultivars with pendulous or lateral flower buds. Seen from a labour viewpoint there are
some disadvantages to these cultivars as far as harvesting, grading, bunching and
transporting the flowers are concerned. The market potential for cultivars with pendulous
or lateral flower buds is smaller.
Bulb size.
With each cultivar a choice must be made from the various bulb sizes available. Larger
bulb sizes generally produce longer and heavier stems with more flower buds and will
flower somewhat earlier. However planting density will have to be reduced to obtain
optimum cultivation results.

The Manual, part 2 deals with specific characteristics and cultivation dates. It discusses the lily
cultivars according to lily groups for cut-flower and pot plant production. Based on this
information the flower grower can make an informed choice.