Managing plant withdrawal  by  Elizabeth Licata

This year: Lilium ‘Regale’ (can’t see the leaves, it’s surrounded by phlox)

I’m starting slow. When I see one of these that hasn’t set buds for whatever reason, instead of leaving it to gather strength for next year, I just pull it out, bulb and all. I’m also more likely to cut some of these to bring inside, allowing for longer stems than I have in the past. I’m not going cold turkey, not even close. They say doing it gradually is actually harder, but I’m by no means sure I’ll have to kick the habit entirely.

The battle against the lily beetle is getting just a bit wearisome. Truth is, I don’t have much patience with pest or disease management. I hate spraying anything; even my fertilizing regimen has been reduced to throwing down some Rosetone in spring and top-dressing with compost once in a while. Lilies were never high maintenance except for staking, and, considering I have partial shade, staking is something I have to do with a few other plants. There is something satisfying about tying up a plant so it will stay where you want it.

I’m not one for recording insect damage, but you can see it on the leaves of this one, from last season.

That is all changed now. Every day I need to go around to all the plants and watch for the little red bugs, which must be removed and killed. Then, the leaves have to be either swiped clean of the hideous, excrement-covered larvae, or removed if they are too far gone. I’ve done pretty well; most of my plants are in decent shape, except for the martagons, which seem to be a favorite. Container plants do better and weird hybrids appear to be disliked.

These doubles in containers are untouched.

It is sad, because lilies are among of the first things I planted. I’d always loved them in arrangements and was amazed that these beautiful flowers were so hardy and so easy to grow. Unlike most spring bulbs, lilium foliage is minimal and the stalks unobtrusively decline near summer’s end. They give a burst of color and fragrance at a good time: right around Garden Walk.

For now, I’m keeping up the fight, but, at the same time, I’m whittling myself down to a maintenance dose: lots of container lilies and a few stands here and there, where they are semi-hidden by roses and tall perennials. Did you ever have to kick or cut way down on a plant habit? It’s not easy!

Managing plant withdrawal originally appeared on Garden Rant on July 10, 2018.

Original Article