Are you in a drought stricken part of the country? We have experienced this ourselves in the past. In the year 2002 we saw a variety of poor growing symptoms in some of the lilies, in particular our newly planted lilies from the previous Fall, as well as those planted that spring.
The most notable symptoms included bud abortion and blasting, yellowed stems early in the season, color streaking in the flower petals, as well as abnormally high reproduction of stem bulbils and underground bulbets - lilies do this when stressed. At our location, blooming was delayed by up to 3-4 weeks, and sprouting was delayed by a full 6 weeks. All of these conditions are directly related to our fickle weather patterns; the extreme heat of July, and the lack of moisture throughout the winter and into the summer (it didn't start to rain here until August 1 that year).
While digging that season, it was quite noticeable that many of the newly planted varieties were lacking root systems, even though they put on a beautiful show of flowers and seemed to have perfectly healthy stems above ground. There are even a small number of varieties we were forced to cancel all orders on, because they were in such poor shape. Thankfully, we were using drip irrigation by mid July or there probably would have been far more orders canceled!
I am writing this note in order to inform you of the importance of healthy root systems on lily bulbs, in order for them to survive the coming winter, which may very well be without snow - you never know in this province! If we experience another snowless winter, followed by drought in spring, it is likely that most, if not ALL the lilies without adequate roots will perish completely. For this reason, I urge you to pay particular attention to watering your lily bulbs after they are planted in Fall, and to continue to do so on a weekly basis until the ground begins to freeze. Even though the air above ground may be quite cool, the bulbs are warm and snug under the soil, and busy sending out new roots well into the winter, BUT they need moisture to do this! I would also advise doing the same to any new lilies you planted last fall and this spring, if they displayed symptoms of stress, and you are in a drought stricken or dry part of the country. It may not be necessary for you to do this on a weekly basis if you have already received enough moisture to dampen the ground to the depth the bulbs are planted at - you must use your judgment here.
It is worth noting that our established lilies had no problem developing roots even though there was no moisture to help them along. Some did experience bud blasting & abortion, but this was because of the extreme heat when they were forming buds. There were a number of outstanding lilies despite the growing condition.
Thanks so much for reading, if you have any question please don't hesitate to call or email. Best chances of a quick response are by email as the phone gets ignored when I am outside working most every day through Spring, Summer & Fall. Good growing to you!