How to grow kaffir lilies
Kaffir Lilies brighten gardens with an abundance of graceful wands of bright, silky blooms, late in summer.
Sometimes Kaffir Lilies are known as Crimson Flags because of their sword-like leaves and tubular flowers in pink, rose or red atop stately spikes. They are popular for growing as cut flowers and are a beautiful additon to any garden.
If you can supply constant moisture to areas in your garden, Kaffir Lilies will reward you with a bountiful supply of blooms. Plant them with other late-blooming flowers or use them to brighten up a garden area where early flowers have faded. They are striking enough to grace the most formal flower bed and border and have a wildflower charm to suit a semi-wild garden situation.
In their natural habitat, these lilies often grow with their roots in a stream. A damp, sunny corner of your garden which is usually too wet to mow provides perfect growing conditions for the Kaffir lilies. Dig up the moist patch of lawn and replace it with a bed of lilies. This will solve your mowing problems.
Choose the site
In early spring, choose a site in a full sun or a partially shaded position; preferably one that receives at least six hours of sunlight daily. An ideal location is one that is on the bank of a stream or pond or in a damp area. Kaffir lilies do not need good drainage and will even grow in standing water. Never let them dry out. The planting area should be big enough to allow a space of about 8 inches by 8 inches(20cm x 20cm) between each plant.
Prepare the bed
Dig the bed to a depth of the spade’s head. Remove all the grass and weeds. Fork in a 2 inch (5cm) layer of well-rotted compost making sure it is well combined with the soil. This will help the soil retain moisture, especially in the summer months.
Purchase the rhizomes
Purchase large rhizomes that have four to five growing eyes. The smaller rhizomes may need to grow an extra year before they bloom well. Avoid buying rhizomes that are shrivelled and dry and those that have shoots longer than 2 inches (5cm).
Plant the rhizomes
In early spring, using a garden trowel, dig pockets 8 inches (20cm) apart and a bit over 3 inches (8cm) deep. Set the rhizomes in the planting holes with the growing eyes facing upwards.
Once you have set the rhizomes, cover them with soil, and spread a good layer of leaf mulch, about 1 1/4 inches (3cm) deep, over the garden bed to help maintain soil moisture.
Water and feed
Keep the moisture up to the lilies throughout the growing season. Fertilize lightly with a balanced fertilizer in midsummer and apply another application as soon as blooms begin to appear.
In cold climates
In cold climates, it is best to plant Kaffir lilies in pots and sink them in the ground for the duration of the growing season. I autumn, lift the pots and position them in a cool, bright spot over the winter.