Growing lily bulbs: faster and less use of pesticides

Published on
March 4, 2020

It is possible to growing lily bulbs with considerably fewer plant protection products. The solution: nursing the bulbs in a greenhouse, instead of in the field. This method can also considerably speed up the production of starting material, according to research by the Business Unit Greenhouse Horticulture & Flower Bulbs of Wageningen University & Research.

Lily growers usually produce their own starting material. For this they use the scales of old bulbs, on which new bulbs grow. An efficient method, but also a risky one. This is because diseases and pests remain intact. That is why it is difficult for lily growers to grow lilies without the use of plant protection products.

Tissue culture in a greenhouse

In the project Vitale Lelieteelt a 'one-way system' for propagating lilies was researched. The starting material is produced by tissue culture in a greenhouse. The scales that result from this are also grown into planting material in the greenhouse. The last year the bulbs are moved to the open field. The reason is that otherwise a grower needs too many greenhouses for his or her total production.

With this method bulbs barely get in contact with possible pests and diseases. As a result, fewer crop protection agents are required. Another advantage is that the production process is shortened to around 3 years (instead of 4 to 5 years). The disadvantage - higher costs due to the long stay of the bulbs in greenhouses - is thus largely recovered. And very important: fewer quality problems due to viruses, soil fungi and nematodes.

The project Vitale Lelieteelt  is funded by the Ministry of Agriculture, Nature and Food Quality.