Q • I bought many Asiatic lily bulbs on clearance and would like to mail some to Texas. The lilies are in pots and finished blooming two weeks ago. I was wondering if it is OK to cut back the foliage and mail bare bulbs or will they fare better if left whole and shipped with soil?
I think it's a bad idea for a variety of reasons. Cutting back and bare-rooting a growing lily at this time could weaken the bulb and put it at risk of survival. It would be better for the bulb if the growing plant was shipped with soil on the roots.
But consider the cost of sending the weight of dirt through the mail. Overnight costs might be prohibitively expensive. Regular mail taking several days in a heat wave also carries risks. And what part of Texas? Southern Texas, from approximately the northern Gulf Coast west to the Chihuahuan Desert, is far south of the preferred hardiness zones for Asiatic lilies.
Here's my suggestion — keep your bulbs and plant them in your own garden. Buy your friend a gift certificate to a mail-order bulb vendor who will ship bulbs at the proper time for planting this fall. Personally, I often buy bulbs from Brent and Becky's Bulbs (store.brentandbeckysbulbs.com), but there are many other mail-order vendors to choose from.