Diseases and Pests of lily bulbs in zones one to four:

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Botrytis is a fungus infection which shows up, in the early stages, as white spots on the leaves of the lily plants. These spots become teardrop shaped markings being lighter on their outside edges and darker on the inside. In severe conditions the spots grow together and the whole leaf will turn brown and decay.

The spores of Botrytis do not enter one plant and destroy it rather they locate and infect new areas on the same plant or on neighboring plants.

Botrytis will occur in regions where the climate is warm, moist, and where fogs or heavy dews are accompanied by warm temperatures. Plants injured by hail, frost or mechanically may be more susceptible to Botrytis as these injuries provide a "port of entry" for the spores.

To determine for certain that Botrytis is present examine the infected foliage early in the morning using a magnifying glass; if the fungus shows up as tiny fuzzy strands standing up like trees Botrytis is present.

To control the possible infestations of Botrytis it will be helpful to implement good sanitation practices; remove all plant debris at the end of the growing season; pull the old stems as soon as possible and rake all foliage. If a mulch has been used this to should be removed. All materials should be burned. Plant lilies in warm sunny dry areas where there is plenty of air movement; wide row spacing will aid in the control of spores spreading. Select lilies which are less susceptible to the disease. Spraying with copper fungicide should be done early in the season before the anticipated conditions ( humid, foggy ) become prevalent. Bordeaux may be used before the plants emerge. As a foliar spray Bordeaux may not be acceptable to a grower who wants to show stems as it will stain the foliage . In that case Benlate, also known as Benomyl, a systemic fungicide may be the best chemical to stop a infection after it has started. Spray the plants when the foliage is dry and be certain to apply spray to the underside of the leaves.

Blue Mold

Blue Mold is a bulb rot affecting bulbs in storage. Usually only the outer scales are damaged. The signs to check for are decay or dark bruised spots on the lower part of the bulb. Careful handling when digging to avoid mechanical damage and drying the bulbs before packaging will prevent the fungus from growing. Check the bulbs in storage and if there is any evidence of blue mold and/or decay clean it from the bulb by removing the scales. Then treat the bulb with a fungicide such as Captan or a bulb dust which contains a fungicide. Allow any excess moisture to evaporate before returning the bulbs to storage.

Root and Basal rots

Root and Basal rots are brought on by wet conditions, infected soil and susceptible varieties. The first indication to the grower may be unhealthy, unthrifty plant growth. Investigate by digging the soil away gently from the roots. Lift the bulb remove any infected scales, wash the soil from the bulb, soak the bulb in a fungicide solution ( such as Benomyl) air dry and then replant in a new location.

Virus Disease

Virus Disease will cause lilies to have reduced vigor. Other symptoms which would indicate that a virus is present are streaking of the foliage caused by the reduction of chlorophyll; and twisted distorted growth of the plant. If a virus is present rogue hard; the removal of infected plants will greatly reduce the chances of the virus being carried to healthy plants by aphids. Spray with systemic pesticides to control aphids. Color-breaking virus also known as Tulip Breaking Virus can be recognized by the blotching of contrasting colors on the flower petals. Remove infected plants immediately.

A virus present in the bulb will be evident by brown concentric ring patterns on the bulb scales.


Fasciation is considered a condition rather than a disease and can be recognized by a flattening of the stem ( or what may look like several stems joined together). In some cases the flowers on these stems will be aborted but in other cases the flowers produced, though somewhat smaller than normal, will be very abundant. The stem may twist and split open. This condition most often occurs in older, larger bulbs which will produce normal plants the following year.


Rodents such as pocket gophers and mice enjoy the lily bulb as a part of their diet. The pocket gophers will tunnel underground and devour a whole row of favorites before the grower realizes their presence. Trapping and poison are two ways to stop them .At the first sign (mounds of fresh soil ) of a pocket gopher act with the eradication. Mice will dig down to the bulb during the winter months and damage the bulb. Placing bait stations will help to reduce the population and damage.

Deer present a problem as they like to taste stems and buds. Blood Meal, music, scarecrows and a good watch dog may be methods to deter these bold creatures.

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