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Propagating Lilies from Bulbils

Some types of lily form tiny embryo bulbs in the leaf axils on the stem as the season progresses. These may be shed naturally or spread as the stem collapses at the end of the season. If you wish to increase your collection or share the plants with friends, it is worth harvesting the bulbils to sow.

You will need:

Pots, Compost

Best time to do it:


Difficulty: 1 / 5

The embryo bulbs grow where the leaf meets the stem (the axil). They look like tiny replicas of the parent bulb.

Harvest when the bulbil is ready. It will usually start off green and turn much darker as it matures. You may even see small roots at its base.

Plant the bulbils in a pot of fresh, sterile multipurpose compost. Water to settle the compost and stand in a sheltered spot or cold frame.

In the first year, the leaves will look completely different, as the bulbil matures. By the second year, the foliage looks much more like the parent plant. It may take 4-5 years for the bulbil to flower, depending on variety.

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