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Lilies, Crinums and Cannas

 

Kathy
Henderson
Columnist

  Tough plants have always been favorite inhabitants in my garden. I deplore wimpy plants that have to be tinkered with and babied just to get them to survive. Often in catalogs that sell plants or seeds, you will see a mass of beautiful flowers on a plant. When you plant it, you are lucky to have a flower at all. I can admit to falling for many a seductive photo, only to find out that it was tampered with in color, size and abundance of flowers.

  Lilies, however, tell the truth. I absolute fall in love with tall and small trumpets in my garden, whether they belong to the Oriental, Asiatic, Trumpet and Aurelian Hybrid, Orienpets (Oriental crossed with Trumpet) or any one of the several other types of true lilies.

  I often forget where I planted bulbs since I tuck them among shrubs, perennials and vines. Suddenly they appear to capture the spotlight in bud and bloom. Just keep them away from the deer - evidently, they taste delicious from the moment they put on a leaf. I have lost many to deer. They actually pull them out of the ground. So sad! 

  Lilies just need a loamy soil with good drainage. I have them in sun and light shade, but the sunnier, the better. Stake the stems because our sudden windy storms will break them or bend them to the ground. The flowers are quite heavy. Easter lilies thrive very well here, so plan to buy a few, enjoy them indoors, then plant them in a large group to enjoy in June the next year.

5 - 6’ tall True Lilies in Kathy’s Garden.                                    Special photo

  Similar to these true lilies (Liliaceae) are the large bulbs of the Crinums. They have the same amazing trumpets as many of the true lilies, but belong to the Amaryllis family (Amarylli-daceae). You may remember Crinums as “Milk and Wine Lilies” - white trumpets with pink streaks in them. These are the most familiar ones, but there are white crinums and those in many shades of pink. I have a ruby pink one that I think is ‘Ellen Bosanquet’.

Crinum ‘Ellen Bosanquet’.                            Special photo

   A Crinum bulb can multiply into a mass of bulbs that will ultimately weigh a couple of hundred pounds, so plant Crinums where you want them to stay. Sun, light shade, clay, dry or moist - these bulbs will take anything and they never die - never! Big green foliage and almost no pests, including deer.

  The last of my tough plants for today are the Cannas. Often these are called Canna lilies. They are definitely not lilies. They actually belong to their own family (Cannaceae). These southerners with large leaves grow from tough, thick stems called rhizomes.

A Canna ‘Bengal Tiger’ plant.               Special photo

  Cannas grow in large masses because their rhizomes travel through almost any kind of soil. Like Crinums, plant them where you are having trouble growing anything else and they will usually thrive; however, they love good soil, fertilizer and water.  I have cannas with purple leaves, with variegated green and yellow leaves and those that have just plain old green leaves. Red, yellow, orange, pink and white flowers; large flowers and small flowers; tall and dwarf; cannas are a versatile, interesting and variable group of plants.

  Having trouble with your garden - try these tough ones. They will make you successful.

 

 

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