Overwintering Stargazer Lilies

(Question)

My stargazer lilies completed flowering for about 2 months ago.  They are currently in pots on my balcony. I will be away from end of September for a month. Can I dig up the lily bulbs and start storing them for the winter at the end of September? Or should I wait later in the fall? I want to avoid having to ask my neighbours to keep watering my lilies while I will be away.  Also I am anticipating several issues with digging them up and storing them this early for the whole winter:

  1. Keeping the lilies in healthy condition during storage.
  2. The storage locker in my condo has a temperature about 20 degrees Celsius which I think is still too warm for storage.
  3. If I dig the lilies up now, do I need to cut back all the green leaves and stems?

 

(Answer)

Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.  You can start to prepare your lilies for overwintering at the end of September. Remove the leaves and stalk once they turn brown and discontinue watering at this time so the bulbs don’t rot. You can take the bulbs out of the pots after the first frost, allow them to dry, shake off dirt and store them over the winter in a paper bag.  Alternatively, you can leave the bulbs in the pots and stick a few mothballs in the pots to deter mice and other pests. With either method overwinter the bulbs in a darkened cool area (4.5 – 10 Celsius) such as frost free greenhouse, cold frame, shed or basement.  For more information please review the following posts:

http://www.torontomastergardeners.ca/wp-admin/post.php?post=18368&action=edit

https://www.gardeningknowhow.com/ornamental/bulbs/lily/planting-lilies-in-containers.htm