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I have some Madonna lily bulbs that I would like to scale. If I planted them after the last frost in spring, how long will it be until I get a flowering size bulb? Does it matter which scales I use?

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up vote 4 down vote accepted

With good soil and a sunny location and without lily beetles attacking from scale to a small flower could be three to five years.

Edit: @jmusser asks about a timeline for growth rates. From here

Seed - immediate epigeal germination[130]. Sow thinly in pots from late winter to early spring in a cold frame. Should germinate in 2 - 4 weeks[163]. Great care should be taken in pricking out the young seedlings, many people prefer to leave them in the seed pot until they die down at the end of their second years growth. This necessitates sowing the seed thinly and using a reasonably fertile sowing medium. The plants will also require regular feeding when in growth. Divide the young bulbs when they are dormant, putting 2 - 3 in each pot, and grow them on for at least another year before planting them out into their permanent positions when the plants are dormant

This mirrors my own experience in growing Lilium canadense from seed. The first few years all you see is a tiny leaf. After that it can easily be a few more years until you have a plant with a stem. Sadly, the local chipmunks liked my seedlings a lot.

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Could you post a reference for "from scale to a small flower could be three to five years" ? – J. Musser Jun 10 '14 at 1:44
What about from scales, versus seedlings? Shouldn't they grow faster than seedlings? – J. Musser Jun 10 '14 at 21:15
Sure, scales should be faster but I could not estimate by how much as it varies by species, planting situation and soil – kevinsky Jun 11 '14 at 1:07

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