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Does candy lily live up to all it P.R.?

Promises of jewel-like flowers on easy-care plants have enticed many gardeners to try the exotic candy lily (Pardancanda norrisii) sold through a few mail-order nurseries. But does this plant live up to the glowing descriptions? Yes and no. It does produce exotic 2- to 3-inch spotted blooms in shades of yellow, cream, red, pink, or purple above iris-like foliage, but it definitely demands coddling for best results in Western gardens.

If you start from seeds, sow them in flats indoors according to packet instructions. Keep soil mix evenly moist since soil that is too dry shrivels seedlings, and soggy soil promotes rotting. Plants started from seed may not bloom until the second summer.

Or you can order bare-root plants, which will usually give you flowers their first season. Be sure to plant these as soon as they arrive, since an already-sprouting plant will have a harder time recovering from transplant shock.

Where summers are cool, candy lilies do best in full sun, but they prefer part shade in hotter areas. Set bare-root plants or sturdy seedlings 8 to 10 inches apart. Make sure soil is fast-draining by adding plenty of organic matter. For a couple of weeks after setting out seedlings, provide some shade during the hottest part of the day to avoid sunburning tender foliage.

Snails and slugs can quickly demolish the leaves of candy lilies; apply bait to foil these munchers.

Wash off any aphids that take up residence. Plants want to go dormant in winter, so promote this natural cycle by tapering off watering in fall. Where the ground freezes, protect plants with a mulch during the winter.

Both seeds and plants are available from Geo. W. Park Seed Co., Greenwood, S.C. 29647 (free catalog). Bare-root plants are sold by Wayside Gardens, Hodges, S.C. 29695 (catalog $1).
COPYRIGHT 1986 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1986 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Date:Mar 1, 1986
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