John Scheepers2017

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In Focus: Spicy, Fragrant Chinese Trumpet Lilies
We are enamored again with Chinese Trumpet Lilies as if we had just seen them for the first time. It is hard to imagine that such an impressive, huge, statuesque plant can emerge so effortlessly from a bulb (but a mere fraction of its size) planted last fall. It is hard to imagine any genuine summer garden without them.

Huge, Multitudinous Fragrant Flowers
Your clients will be amazed at the sheer number and size of their exquisitely formed, slightly recurved, trumpet-shaped flowers that are graced with elegant, long anther-tipped filaments. The outside of each 6"-long flower has narrow ridges of luminous green accenting its coloration and form. The stature and magnificence of first year blooms is astounding, yet each plant will become even more substantive as the years go by. Some will grow even taller than 6' (with credible reports of even 8' or more), and clients have reported 25 or more flowers per stem on mature plantings. Due to their height and weighty flower presence, staking is a must, particularly in advance of summer winds and rains. In horticultural zone 5 under 'normal' weather and site conditions, they bloom in July/August.

The Quintessential Collection
Our small, but essential, collection of Chinese Trumpet Lilies, also known as Aurelian Hybrid Lilies, are exalted heirlooms for garden display and impressive cut flower arrangements.

Native to western China in 1905, Lilium regale, aptly named for its undeniable perfection, was introduced to the U.S. by Arnold Arboretum director E. H. Wilson, in 1912. It was an immediate sensation in the gardening world. In fact, it elevated all Lilies to a new coveted status. Each fragrant, pristine white flower opens from a thick cigar-shaped, burgundy-white bud. Its illuminated butter-yellow throat is accented with a linear green starburst and green filaments tipped with prominent orange anthers. The flower petals taper to slightly recurved tips while the exterior of each trumpet is artfully brushed with feathered burgundy. Heirloom regale is particularly well-loved for garden display since its bulb readily yields bulblets, maturing into increasing more substantive plants and stands over time.

Lilium regale album is a form of Lilium regale without the burgundy feathering on the reverse of each trumpet. Sumptuously fragrant, it too is bright white with a linear green starburst, butter-yellow throat and green filaments tipped with orange anthers. The noble trumpets of both Lilium regale and regale album appear to shine luminously on warm moonlit nights.

Chinese Trumpet Lily Golden Splendour was introduced in 1957. It is a richly fragrant, non-fading, deep golden-yellow strain with a linear green starburst and green filaments tipped with brick-orange anthers. The exterior of each trumpet is lightly flushed variable rose and copper.

Chinese Trumpet Lily Pink Perfection is an outstanding strain that is highly regarded for its prolific blooms and remarkable, non-fading color. Varying from pale pink to deep pink with a magenta or lavender flush, each priceless pink trumpet has a golden-yellow starburst throat, ivory-green filaments tipped with bright golden anthers and recurved petal tips. The reverse of each trumpet is accented with variable amethyst flushes. It is truly a gem.

This year, we're pleased to bring back the prized strain of the Chinese Trumpet Lily African Queen. Her large, extremely fragrant, 6" to 8" trumpet-shaped flowers are variable shades of apricot-melon with a reverse coloration of variable light to deep coppery bronze-purple. Heat-tolerant, 5' to 6' African Queen retains her smoldering colors through the most sunny and hot of summer days.

Fall Planting is Best
Chinese Trumpet Lilies are harvested in the fall after all of the other flower bulbs in the Netherlands. We receive them in our Connecticut warehouse in mid-October for immediate shipment. We strongly advise planting Chinese Trumpet Lily bulbs in the fall, so that the bulbs may become well established over the winter before they are required to produce foliage in the late spring, and massive flowers in the summer.

Individual varieties of African Queen, Golden Splendour, Pink Perfection, regale and regale album are available in bulb size 18/20 centimeters, while our economical Chinese Trumpet Lily Mixture is comprised of 14/16 centimeter bulbs so that large drifts may be planted for maximum impact in foundation plantings of summer gardens.

Easy to Plant and Grow
Good for horticultural zones 4 through 8, Chinese Trumpet Lilies prefer extremely well-draining pH soil and full sunlight. They should be planted in the fall after the ground has chilled down to around 55 degrees F (after two weeks of sweater weather when night time temperatures hover in the 40s).

Plant them 6" to 8" deep and 12" apart. They require ample spacing to assure good air circulation for healthy foliage and plant growth, They must have well-draining soil for they really hate to have 'wet feet'. Once the flowers bloom, deadhead the spent flowers immediately. Cut back the stems to ground level as part of pre-winter garden clean up. If you plan to use them as cut flowers, plant a separate cutting garden. Or, sneak a stem here and there, making sure to leave at least 2/3 of the stalk to help the bulb regenerate for the future.