Nov 13, 2015

Lilium regale

Lilium regale and

The Consequence of Impatience

About three years ago I purchased seed of Lilium Regale. Seeds were stratified and planted on March 21, 2013. Germination occurred and on June 3rd I managed to transplant about 80 seedlings into two inch pots. Being rich in Lilium regale seedlings on September 20th I planted 39 in one area of the garden along with two other lilium species. All grew well, and this year all of them bloomed profusely. A magnificent display of 4 - 5 foot stalks flourishing huge white/pinkish reverse, heavily scented trumpets. (I can't believe I didn't take any pictures!) I know I should have deadheaded them after blooming but the seedaholic in me persuaded me to let all of them set seed. I gathered seed in buckets, but, something about them seemed odd. They were paper thin with only the hint of a dark line passing through the center. The slightest breeze sent them fluttering into the landscape. As I had planted all the original seed I had none to compare mine with, but somehow they seemed too ephemeral to be viable, so, I decided to do a germination test and took twenty seeds, placed them on a damp paper towel, put the towel in a plastic bag and placed it on top of the range hood where they would get a little warmth. After a couple of weeks I began to check for signs of germination - nothing. I assumed they were infertile, and me with several thousand seeds on hand. Finally I carried the bulk of the seed to the garden and scattered it - just in case.

A day or two later I decided to check the seeds on top of the range hood. Talk about irony (and stupidity), almost every seed had germinated; roots had worked their way into the fabric of the paper towel, and one or two showed over an inch of green top growth!  I went out to where I had dumped the seed but of course it had rained heavily overnight and the seeds were a soggy mess. Who needs thousands of Lilium regale seeds anyway?

How satisfying to discover, a few days later, a plastic basin filled with more than enough Lilium regale seeds to satisfy anyone.

It occurs to me that a well-illustrated book describing seeds in some detail would be a boon to many gardeners, plant propagators and collectors. I’ll buy the first copy.

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