Lilies have been pleasing the gardens for years back with their mesmerizing blooms. Different varieties have been serving our aesthetic needs in both forms; living plants and cut flowers.
But these beauties are a bit tricky to handle when it comes to flowering. Unopened buds in lilies are the most common issue in this category.
Mostly, lack of vernalization, overwatering, exposure to ethylene gas, inappropriate temperature, overcrowded bulbs, pests, and sulphur deficiency restricts bud opening.
However, in this article, I have come up with some highlights and management practices to deal with this problem.
So, let’s jump in to know more.
Causes and Treatment of Unopened Lily Buds
1. Lack of Vernalization
Vernalization is the process in which plants use a prolonged cool temperature to promote flowering. In lilies, vernalization has an important role in flower blooming.
Generally, lilies need a cold season of almost 18°C for at least 2 months during their growth phase. If such a condition is not provided, lily buds can fail to open.
Some methods of planting can provide the necessary vernalization temperature to your lilies which will lead to proper blooming. Excited to know what these are? Take a look at what I got for you.
To provide a cold temperature, you can insulate your lilies on a warm day. You can also place your lilies in the greenhouse at a proper cool temperature during the growth stage.
Another tricky cultural practice is planting your lily bulbs according to the cold season in your region. Most of the Asiatic lilies bloom within 4 weeks to 6 weeks after growth. In the case of Oriental lilies, this period extends from 5 weeks to 12 weeks.
So, adjust your planting time in such a way that your lilies get at least 2 months of cool winter before flowering.
Overwatering has always been an issue of concern among gardeners. It has a huge impact not only on plant growth but also on flower blooming.
Too much wet soil reduces the oxygen availability in plants which causes a loss of vigor. That means your lilies will not be able to pass the energy in flowering and blooming.
Also overwatering causes root rot which promotes fungal infestations. This can destroy your lily buds.
Common signs of overwatering in plants are leaves turning brown and buds drooping. Sometimes the buds can hang to the plant with the development of fungal mold, which causes rotting.
Let’s check what you can do in this issue.
Correcting your watering schedule will reduce such chances. So, you need to know how often you should water your lilies.
Generally, lilies are okay with watering once in 7 days on normal days. However, during winter, water your plant once in every 14 days.
In extreme temperature conditions, water according to your soil condition. Check whether the base soil is too dry or not. A moisture meter can help you in this case.(Our pick: Atree Soil Soil Tester Kits with Moisture, Light, and PH Test for Garden)
Lilies enjoy 2 to 3 centimeters of watering in each schedule. So, don’t put more than that.
3. Exposure to Ethylene Gas
Ethylene gas is basically an aging hormone that restricts blooming. It shortens the shelf life of flowers by shriveling up flower petals.
Studies have shown that ethylene gas accelerates floral senescence and abscission. This hormone can be the culprit of lily buds dropping. Asiatic and Oriental lilies are mostly affected by such damage.
Petal wilting, buds drooping and yellowing of leaves in cut flowers are the common symptoms of ethylene injury.
However, the effect of ethylene gas starts from the developmental phase of the plant, which can’t be controlled. But you can control this by some post-harvest treatment. So, if you are bothered about how to make lilies bloom in a vase, you can check my recommendation.
For ethylene-sensitive flowers like lilies, a post-harvest conditioner can improve the shelf life which will allow the proper opening of flower buds. You can pick a silver thiosulphate-based anti-ethylene treatment.
Such compounds can protect your lilies from ethylene damage for 7 to 10 days. As this pre-treatment increases shelf life, your flowers will get enough time to open and bloom.
4. Inappropriate Temperature
In lily, bud opening temperature has a great impact. Normally, lilies can tolerate from 10°C to 30°C according to different varieties.
Both high and low temperatures can delay or fail buds to open in time. You can notice such issues in both, living lilies and in cut flowers.
Liles normally prefer 6 hours of sunlight per day to bloom. A temperature of 27°C is preferred for successful bud opening. If the temperature is too low, there will be a delay and in higher temperatures, buds may die before blooming.
Some easy methods can help you to deal with temperature issues. Here I have mentioned some.
If you are living in such a region where enough sunlight is not available, you can provide artificial lights to your plants. LED lights are mostly used. Just fix the lights close enough to your plants in a way that they can get the heat from them.
In the case of cut flowers, you need to place your lilies in lukewarm water. Too hot or too cold water can cause a delay in bud opening.
To skip extreme temperature changes, it’s better to place your lilies indoors. If it’s not feasible, you can provide some artificial shading during hot weather.
Your plant can go under shock after a sudden temperature drop. In such a case, the first thing you need to do is to put your lily plant at a temperature of 25°C. On normal days, room temperatures also work well.
Then you can trim off the wilted leaves and water them in a proper manner. This will relieve your plant from extremely low temperature and bud opening will be encouraged.
5. Over Crowded Blubs
When lily bulbs are planted in a crowded manner, plants tend to compete for water and nutrients. This affects the flowering stage. You will observe flowers are not blooming as it was meant to be.
So, in case of overcrowded bulbs, you need to do something as soon as possible and also before flowering.
During the growth stage, if you notice your bulbs are closely planted, you can easily dig up the soil and place them at a proper distance.
Normally, in the case of most lily varieties, a plant to plant distance of 20 centimeters is considered to be ideal for expected growth and flowering. You can plant or replant your bulbs following this.
The best time for replanting is during the fall season. It will help in adjusting the plant with the surrounding.
Different pests use lily buds as their host to lay eggs. Chemicals secreted by such pests during egg-laying promote fungal growth.
Sometimes insects can also feed on your petals, which can cause problems with bud opening.
You can trace eggs by close observation. As a sign of such damage, lily buds may feel slimy and the outer petals may turn brown and crispy over time. Some feeding spots may also be visible on lily buds.
Let’s see how can you deal with these enemies.
You need to check for insect pests before flowering. If you manage to find some, go for hand picking at the initial stage.
Neem extracts (An extract from the tree Azadirachta indica) can effectively control insect larvae. 2% neem oils are available in the market. You can use this to control pests safely.
Another easy and go to option is a pesticide. But you have to pick one which is formulated for flowering and ornamental plants (our pick: Natria 706250A Neem Oil Spray for Plants Pest Organic Disease Control)
#Recipe- Homemade Insecticidal Soap
- 35 ml of vegetable oil.
- 35 ml of liquid soap.
- A gallon of water.
- Mix the vegetable oil and liquid soap and add water to this mixture
- Pour this into a spray bottle and apply it to your plant.
Caution – Avoid bleach-containing soaps, as these can kill some beneficial insects in your garden.
7. Sulphur Deficiency
Nutrients play an important role in flowering. In lilies, sulphur deficiency causes flower bud damage which leads to unopened lilies.
Let’s check what you can do to resolve this issue.
Well-decomposed composts can meet the sulphur needs in soil naturally. You can add some to your plant base or in the potting mixture.
Another effective method is to use gypsum fertilizers. These are easy to use. Pick one which is suitable for gardens and put them according to the proper dose. (Our Pick: Down to Earth Organic Garden Gypsum Calcium Sulfate)
Question – How do you get lilies to open quickly?
Answer – Lilies can be a good pick as home decor in means of cut flowers. Normally we purchase lily buds and wait for them to bloom.
But did you know a trick can allow your flowers to open on time? If you are wondering how you can open lilies overnight, keep reading.
Providing some warm temperature around your plant will allow early bud opening. Usually, mature buds take 5 days to open. But warmer surroundings will do this in 2 to 3 days.
So place your lily plant in a warmer location for some days. But be careful about scorching summer days. Your plant can wilt in extreme temperatures.
In the case of cut flowers, putting lilies in a bit warmer water will promote the earlier blooming of buds. Give it a try.
Question – Can lilies be forced to bloom?/ how to get lilies to open faster?
Answer – The answer is, yes you can.
Some methods can help in force blooming in lilies. Though some of these are not scientifically proven methods, but most of the growers swear by them. So, let’s check what these can be.
First of all, shorten the stems and remove half of the leaves from the bottom of the stem. This will reduce water demand in cut flowers and your lilies will bloom even faster.
Another interesting method is to add petals and pollens from an already opened flower and put them into your vase water. You need to be careful in this trick as keeping these for too long in water can cause pathogen growth in your vase. So, keep changing your water in every 24 to 48 hours.
Last but not the least, use a flower food packet that contains sugar and silver-based compounds or other Bloom Enhancers (Our Pick: Advanced Nutrients Bud Candy Flower Booster Bloom Enhancer Stimulator). This is a ready-made solution that can help in quick bud opening.
Question – Why are my lily buds rotting?
Answer – Bud rotting is mainly caused by fungal attacks. In lilies, such problems are quite common.
To deal with this, place your lilies in a place with enough air circulation and proper sunlight. Avoid overhead watering on your flower buds. If the condition worsens, use a fungicide suitable for flowering plants (Our Pick: Bonide 811 Copper 4E Fungicide)
Lilies are a bit sensitive in the flowering stage. So, you need to take proper care to get those garden beauties.
Hope this article has provided you with enough information and some tricks and tips to deal with unopened buds in lilies. All you need to do is maintain a favorable environment during the growth stage and follow the proper planting methods as mentioned here.
Just a bit extra care and you are not that far from those bright blooms in your garden. So, keep working on your lilies. And don’t forget to update us. Feel free to ask about any queries in the comment section.