Late summer showers bring Oxblood Lily flowers

Since their bloom time is so close to the beginning of the new school year, they have been nicknamed the “Schoolhouse Lily,” which also references their lasting place in our history. Immediately following blooms their strappy green foliage sprouts to endure winter and remain through spring. Of all the fall bloomers, Oxblood Lilies are one of the most hardy and beautiful.

The best time to plant Oxblood Lily bulbs is in fall, between late September and early October. This gives the bulbs almost a full year of dormancy to prepare and grow for the September blooming season. They are hardy in USDA zones 6 – 10 as long as winter temperatures don’t drop below -10 degrees Fahrenheit. Thriving in 6 – 8 hours of sun, full sun is ideal and partial shade is acceptable. Soil conditions can vary, although the soil should be moist, well-drained (never wet), and slightly acidic is preferred.

When planting your Oxblood Lily bulbs, select a location that meets their growing needs and that will allow for their height and propagation. They grow to a height of 10 - 16 inches and so, are best used as borders or in the back of flower beds. Flower beds should accommodate the natural reproduction of the Oxblood Lilies as they will multiply and eventually need to be divided. Gently divide plants when the area becomes over-crowded, or they may decline in health and vigor.

To plant the bulbs, dig holes 3 times deeper than the length of the bulb and 8 – 13 inches apart from each bulb and other plants. The bulb needs to be buried with the tip facing upwards (or the flowers will grow upside down). Fill the holes with soil and add a layer of mulch for winter protection. Between May and September, water the soil so that it remains damp, but not soggy. In early August, feed bulbs with an NPK 5-10-10 fertilizer.

If you don’t already have Oxblood Lilies blooming this fall, buy them on sale now at The Southern Bulb Company and plant for next year.