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Various Lilium species germination styles

By Darm CROOK, Canada

In this article I will attempt to outline the methods of germination used by the various Lilium species I have grown, and also the time period from date of planting to germination will be given. This time period, however, can vary a lot from one planting to another as many factors have an effect on the seeds ability to germinate in a timely fashion.  Some of these factors are, condition of seed, age of seed, if it has not been kept frozen after proper drying, too much or too little moistureness, temperatures.

Obviously it will not be all inclusive as I have not grown every species. 


The following species germinate as immediate epigeal and produce their cotyledon over the time frames given. There will be a few seeds in almost every seed lot that germinate slower then these time frames. As a rule, with immediate epigeal germinating lilies the first true leaf will emerge about 4 weeks after the cotyledon.

L. amabile and it's varieties - 8 to 20 days.

L. callosum - 15 to 30 days.

L. candidum - 17 to 30 days.

L. catesbaei – 12 to 18 days.

L. cernuum and it's variety alba - 10 to 30 days.

L. concolor and it's varieties - 12 to 35 days.

L. davidii and it's varieties - 12 to 20 days.

L. duchartrei - 10 to 30 days.

L. fargesii – 90 to 150 day spread in seed germination all from the same batch. After 25 days incubation in a baggie at + 18C. the seeds were then treated to regular temperature swings from + 4C. to +18C.

L. formosanum variety  pricei - 18 to 25 days.

L. henryi - 60 to 75 days. Fresh seeds may germinate faster.

L. lancifolium - 10 to 17 days.

L. lankongense - 15 to 35 days.

L. longiflorum 15 to 25 days.

L. lophophorum - 12 to 30 days.

L. mackliniae - 20 to 50 days.

L. maculatum [Wilsonii] and var. flavum 15 to 35 days.

L. maculatum var. bukozanense - 10 to 35 days.

L. maculatum var. davuricum 40 to 60 days. With the first true leaf taking another 90 days to make an appearance.

L. maculatum v. monticola - 25 to 35 days.

L. majoense - 14 to 25 days.

L. nanum and it's var. flavidum - 15 to 20 days. Once germinated these seedlings need a 10 to 14 hour day at + 18 to + 20C. Then a 10 hour night at temperatures around + 10C. Without the cool night the seedlings will simply collapse.

L. oxypetalum and it's variety insigne - 10 to 25 days.

L. papilliferum - 8 to 15 days. Once germinated quite dry conditions are required or the bulblets will be lost.

L. philadelphicum - 12 to 25 days.

L. philippinense - 20 to 30 days.

L. pumilum and strains - 9 to 14 days.

L. regale - 12 to 30 days.

L. rosthornii - 22 to 60 days. L. rosthornii seeds will germinate faster if exposed to light, however, during their first year the seeds that are not exposed to light once germinated will out grow those that were germinated by being exposed to light. L. rosthornii seeds need more  moisture then the average immediate epigeal seed to germinate well.

L. sargentiae - 25 to 35 days.

L. sulphureum - 8 to 20 days. If indeed these seeds were L. sulphureum and not hybrid seed.

L. taliense - 10 to 20 days.

L. taliense var [nick name only] kaichen 20 to 30 days.

L. wallichianum - 20 to 35 days.

L. wardii - 20 to 30 days.


The following species seeds germinate as delayed epigeal, with some anomalies between the type and varieties. These lilies are in my opinion the hardest ones there are to germinate.

L. leichtlinii - I have had little to no success with this lilies seeds. Having germinated only two seeds after 63 days then I lost them.

L. leichtlinii var. Maximowiczii - The majority of this varieties seeds germinate as immediate epigeal in 17 to 30 days. The few that don't germinate as immediate epigeal can be given a cold period of 3 months or so then planted out and they will germinate and come up the following year.

L. pyrenaicum - I have found that a few seeds will germinate within 60 days after being frozen for a couple of weeks the majority will not. After a three month incubation period at temperatures around 15C. I give them a three month period at +2C. Then plant them out germinated or not. The ones that had germinated will sprout their cotyledon shortly after being planted out. The rest that are viable will sprout their cotyledon the following spring. Thus they germinate through the summer, it seems like this lily's seeds may require two cold periods before they will properly germinate and sprout their cotyledon


The following species seeds germinate as  immediate hypogeal. They will sprout their first true leaf within the time frame given.

L. brownii - 60 to 90 days.

L. dauricum - 25 to 35 days.

L. dauricum var. alpinum - 12 to 25 days. Once germinated these seedings require dryer conditions than the type or they will be lost.

L. maculatum var. bukozanense - 20 to 35 days.


The following species seeds are immediate hypogeal cool germination. If held at temperatures of 9 to 11C they will sprout their first true leaf about 60 to 80 days after the seed has germinated and the bulblet is well formed.. If held at warmer or colder temperatures the seeds may never germinate but if they do the true leaf may never sprout. The planting medium should be just moist, if it's to wet the seeds will refuse to germinate. They should not be potted up until the true leaf is sprouted and a root system has at least started to develop. These species seeds which I have grown will  germinate as follows. 

L. bolanderi - 30 to 60 days

L. columbianum - 30 to 60 days.  Some of it`s seeds will germinate as delayed hypogeal.

L. humboldtii - 30 to 60 days.

L. kelloggii - 35 to 90 days.

L. pardalinum - 30 to 75 days.

L. parryi - 45 to 80 days.

L. pardalinum ssp. pitkinense - 30 to 60 days.

L. parvum - 30 to 60 days. Some of it`s seeds will germinate as delayed hypogeal.

L. rubescens - 40 to 80 days.

L. washingtonianum 40 to 75 days.

L. wigginsii - 30 to 70 days.


The following specie lilies are delayed hypogeal germination. They will sprout their first true leaf only after a 3 month cold period. The true leaf will be put up within a three week period from the time the bulblet is planted out. It is well worth watching these seeds on a regular basis as some may germinate as immediate hypogeal and the very odd one as immediate epigeal. The species with this type of germination which I have grown will germinate as follows.

L. auratum 30 to 40 days

L. bulbiferum - 30 to 40 days.

L. bulbiferum var. croceum - 30 to 40 days with about 30 percent of the seeds from most seed lots germinating as immediate hypogeal.

L. canadense and it's varieties - 40 to 60 days.

L. distichum - 20 to 30 days.

L. hansonii - 25 to 35 days with the odd seed germinating as immediate hypogeal.

L. japonicum and it's varieties - 25 to 50 days.

L. ledebourii - 40 to 60 days.

L. martagon and it's varieties - 16 to 30 days. Many L. martagon seed lots from the same pod will have seeds that will germinate as immediate hypogeal as well as delayed. From year to year the percentage of seeds that germinate as immediate hypogeal has varied for me from a low of 1 percent to a high of 7 percent. They are well worth watching for as they come to flower at least a year ahead of their siblings. Martagons will even produce the odd seed that germinates as immediate epigeal.

L. medeoloides - 25 to 35 days.

L. michiganense - 40 to 60 days.

L. monadelphum - 30 to 40 days. Some of these can be forced into immediate epigeal if a couple weeks after germination they are potted up, with the cotyledon exposed to light. It is hardly worth it as the loses are high. Many of these seedlings have long cotyledons for a delayed hypogeal germinating seed thus I had to try and force them into an epigeal growing pattern.

L. superbum - 30 to 60 days.

L. szovitsianum - 50 to 80 days. The odd seed will germinate as immediate hypogeal.

L. tsingtauense - 25 to 35 days.

 Darm CROOK, Canada