Hello. I’d like to plant a few lily trees on my balcony. I am on the 5th floor facing south. There’s quite a bit of sun during the winter and a bit of wind cover from the west.
I have a White Hydrangea tree growing for the last 5 years. I wrapped it nicely in the winter and it comes back every year. My question is if when I should plant the lily bulb? Most suggest that I plant them in the fall. Some say in the spring. Would the bulb survive the winter in Toronto?
Tree lilies are not trees, they are tall hybrid perennials resulting from crossbreeding oriental with Asiatic lilies. They grow to a height of around 1.2 metres (4 feet), although some can grow up to 1.8 metres (6 feet) high. They grow well in conditions that are similar to those recommended for lilies that are more commonly seen in the garden.
Tree lilies can be planted in autumn or spring – I’d suggest that spring would be the best time to plant the bulbs in containers. It’s now the last week of October, and bulbs planted now would not have much time to develop a root system before winter comes.
The bulbs likely won’t survive a Toronto winter if kept in a container on the balcony. Tree lily bulbs may be hardy to climate zones that are colder than that of the GTA when planted in the ground, but when planted in containers, the bulbs will be exposed to much colder temperatures. As well, bulbs in containers are more susceptible to damage when frozen soil thaws and refreezes (e.g., sunny winter days followed by cold nights) – the roots can break and the bulbs would weaken. Once you plant the bulbs, it is recommended to overwinter them (in the container) in an unheated (but frost-free) shed, garage or basement. Don’t bring them indoors, as they need an extended cold period to bloom the following summer – the warm indoor temperature will stop them from flowering.
Make sure to plant the bulbs 25-30 cm (10-12 inches) deep and water well after planting. They prefer full sun and soil that drains well. If your balcony is quite windy, although tree lilies have sturdy stems, you may need to stake/support them as the plants grow taller.
For more information, see Gardening know how. Tree Lily Information: Caring For Potted Tree Lilies.
All the best in adding a tree lily to your balcony garden!