January and February are excellent months for sowing seed under glass. Sow lily seeds not more than 1 cm (½ in) deep in pots or boxes.
The seeds of some lilies, such as Lilium candidum and L. lancifolium (syn. L. tigrinum), germinate and appear above ground within a month of sowing, usually as little green loops rather similar to onion seedlings. Others, such as L. martagon, start by producing a tiny bulb.
Nothing further emerges until possibly a year after sowing, when a small lance-shaped leaf appears on the surface.
Bring pots of lilies inside for forcing. Keep them at a temperature of 7-10°C (45-50°F) until growth is well started, then raise it gradually to 15-20°C (60-70°F). The lilies should bloom 12 to 13 weeks later – in time for Easter.
Lift any surplus strong lilies from the garden for gentle forcing under glass. Use a good soil-based compost such as John Innes No. 1 with added peat (or peat substitute) and grit to keep the texture open. An added handful of leaf mould is beneficial.
Planting new bulbs
Lilies can be planted at any time until the end of March, provided both soil and weather allow. Otherwise, temporarily pot up bulbs to keep them in good condition until the weather improves.