What Are The Black Balls On Lilies?

Lilies are the quintessential symbol of love and beauty in the garden, and they bring a certain elegance and grace to their surroundings. But have you ever noticed those little black growths, or “bulbils”, between the leaf and stem of tiger lilies and other hardy lilies? If not, you’re certainly not alone – many people don’t even realize these mysterious little structures exist!

In this article, we’ll explore what these bulbils are, how they form, why they’re important, different types of lilies that have them, the benefits of having them in your garden, how to care for them properly, how to propagate them, common problems associated with them, and more!

What are Black Balls on Lilies?

The black balls (technically called bulbils) that appear between the leaf and stem of tiger lilies and other hardy lilies are actually aerial bulbs – tiny versions of regular bulbs that contain all the genetic material needed to start a new plant.

They can range in size from barely visible specks up to 1/4 inch or so in diameter, some even look like miniature onions! Unlike regular bulbs which produce roots and shoots while planted in soil, these aerial bulbs will often remain dormant until exposed to certain conditions that encourage growth – such as being planted in soil or laying out in the sun for long periods of time.

How do they Form?

The formation process of these bulbils is quite fascinating – when conditions are right (usually during late summer), a hormone called Auxin will be produced by the plant which causes new bulbils to form at various points along the stem or leaf of a hardy lily.

Over time as these bulbils mature, they will drop off their parent plant and can then be collected for propagation purposes or left where they lie until conditions are again favorable for planting – at which point they will begin to grow into flowering bulbs!

Why are They Important?

Bulbils play an important role in both nature and in flower gardening – by producing new plants without needing to be planted first, they help ensure that species can reproduce even if their original habitat is destroyed or otherwise inaccessible.

Additionally, flower gardeners can collect these aerial bulbs from existing plants as a means of propagation – allowing them to easily create more plants without having to purchase or dig up additional bulbs from nurseries!

Different Types of Lilies with Black Balls

Not all types of lilies feature bulbils, only certain hardy varieties will produce these aerial bulbs between their leaves and stems during late summer months. Some common examples include tiger lilies (Lilium tigrinum), daylilies (Hemerocallis spp.), Japanese painted ferns (Athyrium niponicum), spiderworts (Tradescantia spp.), Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum multiflorum), false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum), marsh marigold (Caltha palustris) and more!

Benefits Of Having Black Balls On Lilies

One major benefit of having black balls on your lily plants is that it makes propagation incredibly easy, simply collect the mature bulbils off your plant when ready and transfer them into soil whereupon they will begin growing into flowering bulbs!

Additionally, having large numbers of these aerial bulbs present also helps ensure that your plant species is able to survive even if its habitat becomes destroyed, thus helping protect biodiversity as well as adding beauty and grace to your garden!

How To Care For The Black Balls On Lillies

In order for your black balls on lillies to grow into healthy flowering plants it is important that you provide adequate care during their development stages- this includes providing good drainage, keeping soil moist but not soggy wet, providing adequate light exposure, avoiding excessive fertilizer use, ensuring good air circulation around your plants, as well as periodically removing any dead foliage. Additionally, it is important to keep an eye out for pests such as aphids which can cause damage if left unchecked.

How To Propagate Black Balls On Lillies

Propagating black balls on lillies is quite simple- simply collect any mature aerial bulbs off your plant when ready, transfer them into soil, cover lightly with about 1 inch of soil, water thoroughly, keep moist but not soggy wet, provide ample light exposure, avoid excessive fertilizer use, ensure good air circulation around your plants, keep an eye out for pests such as aphids, remove any dead foliage periodically, then wait ! The beautiful part about propagating through this method is that it allows you to easily create more plants without having to purchase or dig up additional bulbs from nurseries !

Common Problems With Black Balls On Lillies

While most problems associated with black balls on lillies are minor such as aphids feeding off their sap or leaves becoming yellow due to over-fertilization/watering, there are some more serious issues such as fungal diseases which can cause issues if left unchecked.

Fungal diseases often appear due to poor air circulation around the plants or high levels of humidity which increases the chances for disease-causing spores taking hold. It is important therefore that adequate spacing between plants is maintained, adequate light exposure provided, proper watering practices observed, good air circulation around each plant encouraged, any affected foliage removed immediately, as well as fungicide treatments applied when necessary.


Black balls on lillies may seem like an insignificant addition at first glance but upon further investigation we find out just how vital this part plays in helping species survive despite environmental changes while also making propagation easier than ever before ! With proper care we can ensure that our lovely lily blooms continue bringing beauty into our lives year after year.

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