Dear Garden Lady

My oriental lilies are now hidden and need to be planted closer to the house. Can you advise about when and how to transplant them?

Best do this in the fall. First, water them well several hours before, to moisten the soil to the depth of the bulbs. Cutting foliage back to a height of eight inches makes division easier and reduces stress to the plants. Slide a garden fork (a spade could damage a clump) under the bulbs and lift the entire clump free of the soil. Divide bulbs that have doubled by gently pulling them apart with your hands. Replant the bulbs in fertile, well-drained soil in a sunny location. While large bulbs prefer a depth of four to six inches, smaller bulbs require a depth of one to two inches. Large bulbs may bloom the next season, whereas it may take a two or three years for the small bulbs to reach blooming size.


I read that giant white Trilliums are now available. I recall wild Trilliums as a child up north in the early spring woods – we were forbidden to pick them because they were rare. I assume they must be bulbs. How can I get some for my decadent southern garden in DC, and how do I plant them?

Trillium Grandiflorum (large-flower ‘wake robin’) is endangered in some states, scarce partly because deer eat them. Trilliums are tricky to grow from seed, which must be planted in the autumn, and bare-root seedlings will not be available from native plant nurseries until April. Search online. Try Prairie Moon Nursery, for one. Trilliums need loamy, sandy soil and a bit of sun but not much. Around here, definitely place them in afternoon shade.


Every year it’s the same thing. My garden is a wasteland in September. Please make me miserable with some ideas of what I should plant for next year at this time.

New England Aster (aka Michaelmas Daisy) is a must. Then, in alphabetical order, consider Japanese anemone, coneflower, autumn crocus, liatris (gay feather), monkshood, salvia – and sedum ‘autumn joy’. Right now, treat yourself to some gorgeous potted mums.


I get too much mail. If you had to limit yourself to one gardening magazine, what would it be?

Capitol Hill members value Fine Gardening: fgservice@taunton.comor call 1-800-888-8286. Written by expert gardeners for fairly fairly serious amateur gardeners, it is not just a rehash of this year’s batch of popular “new” gardening ideas you see in supermarket magazines.


Capitol Hill Garden Club programs held on the second Tuesday evening of each month are free and open to all. Next meeting is on Tuesday, Sept. 8 at the branch public library, corner Maryland Avenue and Seventh Street NE. Membership details:

Feeling beset by gardening problems? Send them to the Problem Lady c/o The Capitol Hill Garden Club at Your problems might prove instructive to others, and help them feel superior to you. Complete anonymity is assured.

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