Martin Fidge on Lilium propagation

Martin passes on his take on propagating Liliums from seed, Storing pollen, Cleaning up in the garden and use of fertiliser .
Martin begins sowing Lilium seeds in the May - June period, into zip-lok polythene bags using coconut fibre and vermiculite as a growing medium. Sowing this early, can allow the new plants to throw their first stem in their first year after germinating.
When germination has started, he transfers the active seeds into a foam box of propagating mix, covers them with a thin layer of the same mix, and inserts the boxes into a large polythene bag to keep the surface moist, and the humidity up. This also reduces the need to water so often.
A week or two before planting out into (yes
more boxes), he part opens the poly bag to lower the humidity and thus start to harden off the seedlings. This reduces transplant shock.

In the garden
While all this is going on, Martin is out in the garden, cleaning out all the old stems and leaves which can harbour all sorts of pathogens and pests.
He’s also begun to use a charcoal additive in his potting mix (well washed remnant charcoal from his house heater - care should be taken not to allow the alkaline ash to remain and raise the ph unacceptably). The charcoal tends to improve drainage, and nutrient retention.
He plants out 20 seedlings per foam box.

Storing pollen
When flowering is in full swing, and soon after flowers are fully open and the pollen has matured, Martin collects pollen from plants that he would like to use for propagation. He collects it in small envelopes, and then dries the collected pollen in a warm, low humidity area. He made mention of a box covered with a sheet of glass, and heated by a low wattage light globe.
After a few days in this environment, he places the paper envelopes into zip-lok bags, and after labelling, into the freezer for storage.
Prior to use, the bags should be left at room temperature for a few hours to warm to room temperature, otherwise if exposed to air when still at a very low temperature, condensation will occur, making the pollen unworkable.

Early fertiliser
Commercial growers are using Calcium nitrate (only) at the start of the season. Calcium nitrate can come into contact with stems without burning them, and is effectively a slow release fertiliser. Go easy on high nitrogen fertilisers as the growing season progresses (maybe “Sudden Impact for Roses” would be good, and help setting buds without producing leggy soft plants?)