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Types of lilies: 8 beautiful choices for the garden

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Lilies are among the most recognizable of all summer garden flowers. Their large, bright flowers suit all types of gardens, whether classically designed, rustic, cottage-style or contemporary. While some folks might think lilies are too old-fashioned for today’s gardens, the truth is that there are dozens of modern hybrid varieties of lilies that offer color, elegance, fragrance, and a whole lot of style to today’s landscapes. Read on to discover 8 of my favorite types of lilies, and see why these glorious blooms deserve a prominent place in every garden.

Why are there so many different types of lilies?

Before I introduce you to my favorite types of lilies, it’s important to know that these summer-flowering bulbs are classified by botanists into 9 different divisions based on their genetics and hybridization history. Putting this large family of plants into categories like this helps both professional horticulturists and home gardeners know what the flowers of a particular variety of lily look like, when they bloom, and what conditions they thrive in.

Lilies make beautiful additions to gardens, no matter what style garden you grow.

Within each of these 9 divisions are many subdivisions. And there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different varieties of lilies within each division or subdivision. I’m telling you all this not to dazzle you with botanical knowledge (though I’m sure you find it dazzling, right?), but to hammer home the point that there are an incredible number of options when it comes to bloom color, plant height, and other characteristics within each one of the types of lilies I introduce below.

In other words, each of these 8 types of lilies consists of many different choices, with a huge variety of bloom colors to knock your gardening socks off. However, my list of lily types doesn’t follow the same complex grouping botanists use (it’s close, though!). I simplified it slightly to make it easier for gardeners to follow along.

Lilies come in a broad array of colors and forms, but all have 6 petals and grow from bulbs.

8 Types of lilies for your summer garden

Asiatic hybrids are bred from several different species of lilies. They have 3 to 6 flowers per stem, and the petals are often spotted. Asiatic lilies do not have a fragrance, and their flowers tend to be smaller than some other types of lilies. They come in many different colors, including shades of orange, red, yellow, and creamy white. Unfortunately, Asiatic lilies are a favorite of deer and rabbits. They have strong, straight stems that seldom need staking when planted in full sun. Asiatics make wonderful, long-lasting cut flowers.

Though Asiatic lilies are being replaced by more modern hybrids, they’re a reliable bloomer worth growing.

2. Oriental lilies

Of all the types of lilies, Oriental lilies are among the most fragrant. The heady perfume produced by the flowers is particularly strong in the evening. Oriental lilies have broader leaves than some other varieties of lilies, and the foliage and flowers are deer and rabbit resistant. The anthers of Oriental lilies produce a lot of heavy pollen. If used as a cut flower, pull off the anthers as the bloom opens to keep the pollen from staining furniture.

Oriental lily flowers are as large as a dessert plate, and many buds are found on each stem. Oriental lilies come in various shades of pink and purplish red, in addition to white and creamy yellow. The petals of some varieties are spotted and recurving, while others are not. Among the latest flowering lilies, Orientals grow 2 to 5 feet tall.

Oriental lilies are fragrant and beautiful. This variety stops most folks in their tracks!

3. Trumpet lilies

Also called Aurelian lilies, these hybrid lilies are best described as incredible. Prolific, trumpet-shaped, colorful flowers are long-lasting and highly fragrant. Their petals lack spots and the leaves are broad, though not as broad as the leaves of an Oriental lily. Some trumpet lily varieties have a dozen or more buds per stem, while others have only a few.

Trumpet lilies come in various shades of white, yellow, orange, cream, and pink, often with a star-shaped throat in a contrasting color. One of my favorite varieties of trumpet lily is an orange one named ‘African Queen’. I grew the bulbs in my very first garden and the plants reached nearly 8 feet tall. The fragrance was incredible.

Trumpet lilies are tall and spectacular, bearing many fragrant flowers per stem.

4. Orienpet lilies

One of the best types of lilies for summer gardens, Orienpet lilies are a cross between Oriental hybrids and trumpet lilies. Their blooms have a shallow trumpet shape before they fully open into a broad bloom. The flowers are 6 to 10 inches across, and they come in shades of pink, yellow, red, orange, and white. The outward facing flowers are heavily scented, and the plants reach two to three feet in height. There are some truly stunning selections of these lilies. Orienpets make excellent cut flowers.

Orienpet lilies, such as ‘Allysee’ are a hybrid of Oriental and trumpet lilies. The blooms are huge!

5. LA hybrid lilies

Derived from a genetic combination of Asiatic lilies and “Easter-type” lilies, LA hybrids are the showgirl cousin of plain Asiatic lilies. Their flowers are bigger, bolder, and sexier than the Asiatics. Plus, they come in a wider range of intense colors.

Like Asiatic lilies, LA hybrids have no fragrance. They make great cut flowers, and they’re in bloom for weeks, making LA hybrid lilies real garden standouts. Each bloom measures about 7 inches across and the plants grow up to four feet tall.

Sexier, more colorful, and more prolific than Asiatic lilies, LA hybrids are eye-popping and easy to grow.

6. Turk’s Cap lilies

The recurved petals of Turk’s cap lilies are unmistakable. Like tiny butterflies dangling from the end of graceful flower stalks, Turk’s cap lilies are about as adorable as you can get. Also known as martagon lilies, each stem produces a dozen or more blooms. You’ll find these lilies in shades of orange, yellow, red, and pink. The stalks of many varieties grow quite tall; up to 6 feet! Some have spotted petals while others do not, and most varieties are quite fragrant.

Turk’s cap lilies, like this pink variety, have recurved petals and long flowering stems.

7. Canada lilies

A North American native lily, the Canada lily sports orange or yellow, slightly recurved petals. The plants grow between 2 and 4 feet tall, with each stem producing whorls of 3 to 8 leaves at intervals along the length of the stem. Each stalk produces between 5 and 20 nodding blooms. More shade-tolerant than most other types of lilies, Canada lilies are a great addition to woodland gardens and moist meadows. Unfortunately, the deer and rabbits like this type of lily as much as gardeners do.

Canada lilies are sweet and bright additions to the garden. They’re more shade tolerant than most other types of lilies.

8. Longiflorium lilies

Also known as Easter lilies, Longiflorium lilies are sold almost exclusively as a holiday plant. Though there are several different cultivars of this lily, they all have a classic Easter lily appearance. The flowers are white and outward facing with a trumpet-like shape. Reaching 1 to 3 feet in height, Longiflorium lilies are forced to bloom out of season and in time for Easter by exposing the bulbs to very precise conditions to initiate a perfectly timed bloom.

The blooms are slightly fragrant. Surprisingly, Easter lilies are very hardy plants that survive winter temperatures as low as -20 degrees F. It takes a lot of energy away from the bulb to force them to bloom out of season, but if you want to give it a go, you can try growing Easter lilies in the garden. After enjoying their blooms indoors, plant the bulbs out into your garden as you would other types of lilies, and as long as they take to their new home, you’ll enjoy their flowers for many seasons.

This Longiflorum “Easter” lily has returned to a friend’s garden for many years.

Buying different types of lilies for planting

True lilies are in the genus Lilium, and they grow from true bulbs. Some other common plants, such as daylilies and canna lilies, may have the term “lily” in their common name, but they’re not actually lilies at all. They grow from tubers, not bulbs, and they’re in a different plant genus. Each true lily bulb is made of layered scales. The flower stalk is produced from the center of the bulb, and the roots emerge from a disk found on the bottom of the bulb.

Lily bulbs are sourced from a number of places. Your favorite local garden center likely offers a few varieties, but online bulb specialty catalogs tend to offer more types of lilies than garden centers. The bulbs are stored and sold in a dormant state for spring planting. Purchase lily bulbs around the time of your last spring frost, and plant them soon after.

All true lilies in the genus Lilium grow from bulbs, including this ‘Stargazer’ Oriental lily.

How to plant lily bulbs

Make sure the root disk is facing down and the stem end is up. All types of lilies are best planted in well-draining garden soil. Lily bulbs rot if their location is too water-logged. Choose a spot that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun to keep lily stems tall and straight, regardless of which of the types of lilies you choose to grow.

Plant the bulbs so their tops sit three inches beneath the surface of the soil. Water the bulbs in well, and add a one-inch-thick layer of shredded leaves or compost as a mulch, if you wish.

Lily bulbs consist of many white scales. There’s a round disk on the bottom of the bulb from where the roots grow.

Growing different types of lilies

Once your lily plants begin to grow, they require very little care. If the plants flop, stake them with a lily support or a hardwood stake. After the blooms fade, cut off the top third of the plant to keep the seed pods from developing and robbing energy from the bulb. They need that energy to fuel the development of next year’s blooms.

Later in the growing season, it’s important to let all types of lilies naturally die back. Do not cut off the green leaves. They continue to photosynthesize throughout the growing season. In the autumn, after the stalks and leaves have turned brown, cut the lily plants down to the ground. If you’d like, toss a few handfuls of a bulb-specific fertilizer over the planting area. The lily bulbs use the nutrition to grow larger. They develop next year’s blooms inside the bulb when the plants are dormant.

‘Royal Sunset’ is a stunning LA hybrid lily with bi-color blooms.

Where can you grow lilies?

Almost all types of lilies are winter hardy down to -30 degrees F, though some are even hardy at lower temperatures (the turk’s cap and Canadian lilies, for example). Lilies need a period of cold winter dormancy. They do not grow well in the extreme south. This is because lily bulbs need to be exposed to cold temperatures to form their blooms. But, if you really want to grow lilies in Florida, put the bulbs in a plastic bag in the fridge for 6 to 8 weeks to mimic a winter dormancy. After this period passes, plant the bulb in a container in a semi-shady spot and cross your fingers.

I hope you enjoyed learning about my 8 favorite types of lilies and how to grow them. They’re a lovely fit for every garden.

To learn more about growing gorgeous summer blooms, check out the following articles:

  • Perennials with long bloom times
  • Purple perennials
  • Deer-resistant bulbs for spring bloom
  • Evergreen groundcover choices
  • Flowering perennials that love the shade
  • Ultimate list of plants for cottage gardens

Do you have a favorite variety of lily? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

If you’re interested in adding these beautiful flowers to your garden, some of the varieties of lilies in this article might appease you.

Big, beautiful lily flowers are some of the most recognizable flowers in the world. The flower is actually so popular that many flowers with “lily” in the name aren’t actually true lilies! Daylilies, calla lilies, water lilies, and lily of the valley are just a few of the dozens of “lilies” you may have heard of.

True lilies belong to the genus lilium, but these flowers are so widely hybridized for a variety of shapes, colors, sizes, and patterns that very specific species of lilies can be hard to pin down. Instead, we’ll discuss some of the larger types of lilies.

A lily is a flowering plant that grows from a bulb and has large, prominent flowers. They are perennial, and can grow between two to six feet in height. They range in color from yellows, whites, oranges, pinks, reds, and purples. Some can even be blue! They are widely grown in private and ornamental gardens in temperate and tropical regions.

Lilies like sun, so a sunny or partial shade spot in your garden will be ideal. They also take readily to containers, if you’d rather have the fragrant blooms in your home, or if you have a lot of deer or rabbits, which like to eat lilies.

Lilies grow best in loose, well-drained soil that is watered freely. Very tall plants should be staked so that they don’t droop. After the blooms start to fade, you’ll need to deadhead and cut back the stalks.

The best way to enjoy your lilies for the longest period of time is to plant a variety of lilies that will bloom from spring to fall, providing you with a beautiful, vibrant garden throughout the growing season that attracts a wide array of butterflies.

Trumpet Lily

Also called an Aurelian Lily, the trumpet lily is the most iconic lily due to the trumpet shape of its blooms. Trumpet lilies are very fragrant, and can fill your house or garden with a beautiful scent. In your garden, Trumpet lilies will generally bloom before Oriental lilies and after Asiatic.

Easter Lily

Another iconic lily, the lilium longiflorum, is a very popular lily during the Christian celebration of Easter. Easter lilies are native to the Ryukyu Islands in Japan, and the stalks can grow up to a meter high. These pristine white blooms are trumpet shaped and generally thinner than Trumpet lilies. The white blooms are out-ward facing and have a light fragrance. Although these plants are beautiful and edible for humans, the Easter Lily in particular is toxic to cats, so cat-owners should be careful about bringing these plants into their homes.

Asiatic Lily

Asiatic lilies have some of the largest blooms in the lily family, and are known for the range of colors, shapes, and patterns of the hybrids in this category. The flowers can range from soft pastels to vibrant, bold reds, pinks, oranges–any color but blue. Asiatic lilies are one of the easiest lilies to grow and care for, probably due to the high hybridization of these lilies. These lilies tend to bloom in the fall, and unlike other varieties, are typically unscented. If you like soft pinks, try planting the “Corsica” cultivar in your garden.

Oriental Lily

Oriental lilies, like Asiatic lilies, are one of the most popular ornamental varieties of lilies. They have colossal blooms in soft colors that are often accented by freckles, stripes, or spots on the petals. While these are not the easiest lily to grow, they have lovely curled-back petals and look as though they might belong in a fairy garden. For a pretty, soft rose-colored bloom, try the “Stargazer” cultivar.

Martagon Hybrid Lily

While the other four varieties of lilies have typically the same shape, with variations on size and position of the petal, the Martagon hybrid lilies are perhaps the most different. Martagon lilies have very tall stalks with many small blooms that face downward, similar to the way a lily of the valley looks. The blooms also often feature freckles or spots.

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Considered as one of the most favored flowers in the world, lilies are full of surprises. Read on to know just how much you know these beautiful flowers.

Lilies belongs to the Liliaceae family, which consists of 108 species and are ranked as the world’s fourth most popular flowers. The most flamboyant of its species is said to be the tiger lilies. It also happens to be the only colored lily that has fragrance. White lilies are scented.

The Egyptians were the first to use lily extract as a perfume while the Victorian women adorned themselves by pinning a lily flower in their hair or evening gowns. Lilies, however, are poisonous to cats and can cause them an upset tummy, kidney failure or death.

African Queen (Trumpet Lily)

With large, trumpet-like petals of bright orange-apricot, this lily faces either upward or downward and has bronze-colored markings on the outside. It is a long-lasting plant with a sensational aroma and each stem consists of 15-20 blossoms for an extraordinary look.

Altari (Orienpet Lily)

With petals up to 12 inches wide and in a star-like shape, this rich raspberry flower with white tips blooms in mid- to late-summer and has a wonderful fragrance. They get up to 4 feet tall and are perfect when planted near a patio or deck where their scent can be best enjoyed.

Anastasia (Orienpet Lily)

This lily has large blossoms that are rose-pink and tipped in white. They can produce up to 30 blooms per stem and are flat-shaped and very aromatic, making them a perfect option for borders.

Arabian Knight (Martagon Lily)

The Arabian Knight is very fragrant and has petals of deep-gold with dark spots in mahogany. Their petals are curved and face downward, and there can be up to 50 of them on one stem. They bloom in early- to mid-summer and can get up to 6 feet tall, so they are quite striking in the garden.

Belladonna (Orienpet Lily)

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A beautiful, bowl-shaped flower that is bright yellow-gold in color, this lily grows up to 4 feet tall and 7 inches wide. It is eye-catching, has a wonderful scent, and bees and butterflies love it.

Black Beauty (Orienpet Lily)

Dark crimson in color and 3 inches wide, these flowers have narrow margins of white and a green stars at their center. It gets up to 150 blooms per stem and does best in full sun or partial shade. It also gets up to 7 feet high, so it is truly eye-catching.

Black Out (Asiatic Lily)

With upward-facing blooms, the Black Out consists of dark-crimson petals, and shadings and centers of dark red-black. It makes a beautiful border plant and grows up to 3 feet high. It is one of the darkest lilies and is perfect for containers and vases.

Black Spider (Asiatic Lily)

These are beautiful creamy-white lilies with deep-burgundy and black hearts, and they grow up to 3 feet in height. They make beautiful cut flowers, and bees and butterflies love them, although they are toxic to cats.

Brindisi (Longiflorum-Asiatic Lily)

With soft-pink petals and a darker-pink center, these lilies bloom in early- to mid-summer and have pleasant scents and beautiful green foliage that perfect complements them. They are great for containers and vases and grow up to 4 feet tall.

Brunello (Asiatic Lily)

With glossy mid-green foliage, the Brunello is bowl-shaped and vivid-orange in color with dark-red stamen. They are unusually large, growing up to 8 inches wide, and look great in vases and containers, not to mention borders.

Casa Blanca (Oriental Lily)

The Casa Blanca is a beautiful shade of white with red-orange anthers, producing the perfect striking contrast. It has a beautiful scent and blooms in mid- to late-Summer. It has also won several international flower awards, and it looks great in containers and vases.

Citronella (Asiatic Lily)

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This is a great flower for naturalizing, and it consists of golden-yellow petals with specks of a darker color. It makes an excellent border plant and does well in most types of soil. It also gets up to 5 feet high and is one of the few lilies that stays pendant instead of facing towards the sun.

Claude Shride (Martagon Lily)

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In elegant dark-red with bright-orange spots and petals that face downward, this type of lily grows best in full sun to partial shade and looks great in containers and vases. It gets up to 6 feet tall and can self-seed at times.

Dizzy (Oriental Lily)

The Dizzy is creamy-white with a raspberry-red stripe down the center of the petal and specks of red throughout. Toxic to cats but popular with bees and butterflies, the flower does well in most soils and looks great in a vase or a container.

Dot Com (Asiatic Lily)

With beautiful white petals and dark-red near the center, this lily grows up to 8 inches wide and requires good moisture in the soil to grow well. It looks great in containers and vases, gets up to 3 feet tall, and grows up to 9 blooms per stem.

Entertainer (Oriental Lily)

The Entertainer is a striking, eye-catching lily that is bright-pink in color and has creamy-white hearts. It is attractive to butterflies and bees, and it grows up to 20 inches tall. It makes a beautiful border plant, and it looks best when grouped together with other lilies.

Fire King (Asiatic Lily)

The Fire King is deep red-orange in color and grows up to 4 feet in height. It does best in full sun or partial shade, and it is adorned with purple freckles, giving your garden a very elegant look. It is toxic to cats, but bees and butterflies love it.

Flashpoint (Orienpet Lily)

With star-shaped petals of creamy-white accented with raspberry-red stripes, this type of lily has an elegant look and a wonderful scent. They require soil that is well-watered and are great in containers and vases.

Gluhwein (Orienpet Lily)

The Gluhwein is quite unique because it consists of many different colors – soft-peach petals with a touch of cream, pale-pink edges, and some reddish tones throughout. Its stems are almost black in color and its foliage is a deep green, making the flower truly striking. They make great border plants and get up to 4 feet in height. It is also a hybrid.

Golden Splendor (Trumpet Lily)

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This lily has 6-inch-wide, trumpet-shaped flowers that are yellow-gold in color with burgundy markings on the outside. The winner of several international flower awards, the Golden Splendor grows up to 4 feet high and is a little more tolerant of drought than other types of lilies.

Gran Paradiso (Asiatic Lily)

With dark-green foliage and stunning red, bowl-shaped flowers, this lily looks great in containers or vases and also makes a beautiful border plant. It is a hybrid and grows best in full sun or partial shade.

Grand Cru (Asiatic Lily)

This lily faces upwards and has bright-yellow petals and burgundy-colored hearts. It has won several international flower awards and is a favorite of butterflies and bees, although for cats it is toxic.

King Pete (Asiatic Lily)

This plant has showy, very open petals that are bright yellow-gold with a darker yellow heart and chocolate-colored specks. It has won several international flower awards and it looks beautiful as a border plant and even in vases. It grows up to 3 feet high and butterflies and bees love it.

Lady Alice

A hybrid plant, the Lady Alice has creamy-white petals with dark-orange hearts covered with cinnamon-colored specks near the throat. Lightly fragrant and very decorative, the Lady Alice grows well in most soils and gets up to 4 feet high.

Leichtlinii Lily (Leichtlins’ Lily)

Native to Japan, this lily has slender stems and petals that have golden-yellow color and chocolate-colored specks. Although not fragrant, they are very attractive with their tiger-skin look and can grow up to 4 feet in height.

Manitoba Morning (Martagon Lily)

With curved, downward-facing flowers of pink-red and creamy yellow at the center, these lilies’ dark mahogany spots make them truly eye-catching. They grow best in full sun or partial shade, and they may even self-seed.

Monte Negro (Asiatic Lily)

The Monte Negro have glossy foliage in dark-green and petals that are vivid red and bowl-shaped. It can grow up to 8 inches wide and 3 feet tall, and it looks great in containers or vases. It is also very attractive to butterflies and bees.

Patricia’s Pride (Asiatic Lily)

This lily is quite striking, with creamy-white petals and dark reddish-black hearts, not to mention a wide-open, upward-facing look. It is a hybrid that makes a beautiful border plant, and its soil needs good moisture. It also grows up to 4 feet in high so it is quite noticeable.

Pink Perfection (Trumpet Lily)

An exquisite flower that gets up to 10 inches long, the Pink Perfection lily is purple-pink in color with a deep carmine on the outer side. It has a wonderful fragrance and lasts a long time, making it perfect to plant alongside patios or decks. They bloom in mid- to late-summer and can get up to 6 feet in height.

Pumilum Lily

Also called the Lipstick Lily or the Siberian Coral Lily, this flower has scarlet-colored, 2-inch-wide petals and can grow up to 30 blossoms per stem. They are truly eye-catching, with a delicate look and a sweet fragrance. The winner of several international flower awards, the Pumilum Lily can grow 2 feet tall and look beautiful in containers or vases.

Regale (Trumpet Lily)

With large petals that get up to 6 inches wide, its colors include pure-white, golden-yellow throats, and pink-purple streaks on the outside. It has a sweet, penetrating aroma and can grow up to 25 blossoms per stem, meaning you can enjoy their loveliness for a very long time.

Robert Swanson (Orienpet Lily)

This variety of lily has large, 7-inch-wide petals of fiery red and buttercup-yellow tips. They are long-lasting and get up to 40 blossoms on each petal, so they are great for border plants. They also have an amazing scent and grow up to 5 feet tall, making them truly stunning.

Rosella’s Dream (Asiatic Lily)

With showy, wide-open petals colored in creamy-white, cherry-pink tips, and chocolate specks near the heart, this lily is compact and very easy to grow. They bloom in early- to mid-summer and make great border plants, due in part to their beautiful colors, and they are both long-lasting and attractive to butterflies and bees.

Salmon Twinkle (Asiatic Lily)

With wide petals and a very decorative look, this plant has creamy-yellow petals and beautiful pinkish-purple tips. They brighten up any garden, and they look beautiful in containers and vases. They also do best in full sun or partial shade and they are not picky about the soil that surrounds them.

Silk Road (Orienpet Lily)

Also known as the Friso, this lily has broad white edges and raspberry-pink markings on each petal and blooms in mid- to late-summer. They look beautiful in vases, do best in soil that has a lot of moisture, and grow up to 6 feet tall, and bees and butterflies love them.

Souvenir (Oriental Lily)

With large, bowl-shaped petals that grow up to 6 inches in width, the Souvenir lily is deep purplish-pink in color with white near the throat and a reddish-orange stamen, as well as striking, dark-green foliage. They look stunning in containers and vases, and butterflies and bees love them.

Starlight Express (Oriental Lily)

This type of lily is a hybrid and has fuchsia petals and narrow white tips. It gets up to 15 bowl-shaped blossoms per stalk, and its ruffled edges give it a unique and eye-catching look. It grows up to 16 inches tall and does best in full sun or partial shade.

Tiny Todd (Asiatic Lily)

Blooming in early- to mid-summer, these lilies are phenomenal and a delicate pink and white in color. They are slightly fragrant and look spectacular with their foliage, which is glossy and green in color. They look beautiful in vases or containers and are attractive to butterflies and bees.

Tom Pouce (Oriental Lily)

With soft, purple-pink petals that can get as large as 8 inches wide, this lily has a bright-yellow streak in the center of each petal and very sturdy stems. A hybrid, they are toxic to cats and require good moisture, although they are not picky about the type of soil that surrounds them.

White American (Easter Lily)

A type of trumpet lily, this flower is creamy-white in color and grows up to 5 inches in width. It makes a great border plant and grows up to 40 inches tall. It also attracts butterflies and bees and looks great in vases and containers.

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Lilies in the Garden – Caring for these Famous Flowers

For high drama and romance all summer long, the genus Lilium is a must By Tovah Martin

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Lilies

  • Botanical name: Lilium
  • Zones: 5-8
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Site: Full sun, well-draining soil
  • Type: Bulb
  • Characteristics: Good cut flowers
  • Warning: Toxic to cats and dogs

Lilies, one of the most beloved bulbs for the summer garden, burst in with kaboom blossoms at an interlude when most flowers are in a holding pattern. Offering “swoony” scents, strong stems and substantial petals, lilies are also workhorses as cut flowers.

GROWING LILIES

How to Plant Lilies:

Lily bulbs can be planted in spring, but getting them into the ground in autumn gives them a head start. Because they are stem rooters and the bulb often anchors a heavy blossom load, it’s critical to sink it at least 8 to 10 inches from top of bulb to top of soil. In regions where temperatures skyrocket above 90 degrees F on a daily basis, sink the bulbs an extra 4 inches or so deeper.

Planting tips:

  • Plant lilies in a berm or raised bed to ensure proper drainage
  • Lilies look best when planted in clusters of three or more bulbs
  • In areas of high rainfall, plant lily bulbs on their side to prevent rotting
  • If you have naturally acidic soil, add some garden lime to the planting hole

For more information about planting and storing bulbs, see Bulbs 101

Lily Care:

Take precautions against voles and other pests, especially in winter. And deer chomp the stems. Insects are also a peril. In earliest spring, when lilies first emerge, begin lily beetle patrol. They’re bright red and easy to spot. Simply remove them before they reproduce and wreak havoc.

Stake your lilies before the blossoms begin to weigh down the stems, making sure not to impale the bulb.

Don’t hesitate to cut your lilies for bouquets—but remove only 1/3 of the stem. Lilies use their foliage to replenish the bulbs for next year’s blooms. When cutting lilies, remove the anthers before bringing them indoors, as they can stain clothing and tablecloths.

PLANTS MASQUERADING AS LILIES

We call many different plants lilies, however only those in the genus Lilium are true lilies. Calla lilies, daylilies, canna lilies and spider lilies are not true lilies and have key differences that are important for gardening success. True lilies are unique in that they produce a single flower stalk from a bulb, encircled by leaves and supporting multiple flowers.

Click to enlarge.

Calla Lily (Zantedeschia)

  • Zones 8-10
  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Bulb
  • Blooms in summer and fall
  • Good cut flower

Click to enlarge.

Daylily (Hemerocallis)

  • Zones 3-9
  • Full sun
  • Perennial
  • Blooms in summer
  • Not good for cutting – flowers only last 24 hours

Click to enlarge.

Canna Lily (Canna)

  • Zones 7-10
  • Full sun
  • Perennial
  • Blooms in late summer and fall
  • Not good for cutting, wilts quickly

Click to enlarge.

Spider Lily (Lycoris)

  • Zones 6-10
  • Part sun/part shade
  • Bulb
  • Blooms in fall
  • Good cut flower

Zones:

Zones 5 to 8 are ideal for most lilies. Some are hardier, such as L. canadense and L. cernuum, which will tolerate the chill of Zone 3, but often not the heat in regions hotter than Zone 6 or 7. Easter lily, L. longiflorum, prefers Zones 7 to 9.

Exposure:

Lilies love full sun, and six hours or more is imperative. Lilies like to have their “head in the sun, feet in the shade.” To keep their roots cool, plant them with low-growing annuals, perennials, or grasses.

Soil:

Most lilies like a soil that’s rich but not overly beefy, though the Orienpet lilies are not fussy about food and tolerate a leaner diet. Drainage is the critical issue. Given their druthers, lilies would like to be planted in a berm or raised bed so water drains away from the bulbs. A pH of 5.5 to 6.5 suits them best.

POPULAR LILY TYPES

Not only have the hybridizers achieved upturned flowers (for shipability) to tingle the heart (and purse) strings of florists, but they’ve increased the color palette, bloom stint, stature and ease of cultivation for the gardening crowd. And a stronger plant translates into fewer chemicals, more lilies and a better world.

When do lilies bloom?

You can have lilies blooming in your garden all summer long by growing several different varieties:

  • Asiatic lilies bloom in early summer
  • Trumpet lilies bloom in midsummer
  • Oriental lilies bloom mid- to late summer
  • Oriental Trumpet (Orienpet) hybrid lilies bloom in late summer

What is the difference between Asiatic and Oriental lilies?

Asiatics, which bloom in early summer, are best known for their exceptionally broad range of colors, as well as wild patterns, brush marks, speckles and double blooms. Orientals, which bloom in late summer, are best known for their large, heavily scented flowers.

Which lilies are most fragrant?

The most fragrant lilies are Orientals, Orienpets and Trumpets, while Asiatic lilies are unscented. Some gardeners describe Orientals as having a spicy scent, whereas Trumpets emit a sweet perfume, and Orienpets offer a pleasant, light aroma (good if you have a sensitive nose).

Which lilies grow in shade?

Lilies flower best in full sun, but many gardeners find that they will also tolerate some shade. Species lilies, those originally found in the wild, are a good choice for light shade. Martagon lilies can also handle more shade than other lily types.

Are lilies poisonous?

Many lilies are highly toxic to cats, causing acute kidney failure if eaten. All parts of the plant are poisonous and many veterinarians recommend never bringing them into a home with cats. Use caution with Easter lilies and opt for floral arrangements without lilies. See more Common Poisonous Plants for Dogs and Cats.

Swipe to view slides

Photo by: Carrie Critchley.

1. ‘Stargazer’

Hybridized in the 1970s, ‘Stargazer’ is one of the most popular lilies in modern history. Featuring upward-facing, vibrant pink spotted flowers up to 8” wide, this fragrant lily performs well in the garden and makes a good cut flower. ‘Stargazer’ is an Oriental lily that doesn’t require staking and can be grown in containers. As a bonus, it will attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.

2. ‘TOUCHING’

Wedding an Oriental and a Trumpet (OT or Orienpet hybrid) lily in 2002, the big-blooming, open-faced beauty ‘Touching’ was born, with a compact size and changing background shades starting with a creamy-yellow debut, evolving into a whiter shade of pale. Each wide petal is also streaked with peachy pink. Strong roots anchor the plant, and the flowers linger long in prime condition.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.

3. ‘PINK TWINKLE’

When Dutch garden designer Jacqueline van der Kloet needed a lily to span the summer months at the New York Botanical Garden’s Seasonal Walk, she headed straight for ‘Pink Twinkle’. This 3- to 4-foot, glowing coral-pink bloomer scarcely ceases its bloom stint throughout summer. With freckled blossoms that triple the size of its tiger lily parents and look you straight in the eye rather than bowing their heads, ‘Pink Twinkle’ can waltz with pink as well as orange companion flowers.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.

4. ORANGE ART®

When Dutch breeders turned their hands to lilies, they went straight for the pizzazz and have been mixing suffused colors and essential traits ever since. Fifteen years ago, Mak Breeding started its foray into the Tango Lily series of Asiatic lilies, with a signature central “face” of contrasting shades. Recently introduced, Orange Art® does the series proud with its nearly neon, pumpkin-orange blossoms and densely packed shiny black dots toward the bull’s-eye.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.

5. ‘YELLOWEEN’

The first lemon-colored Orienpet hybrid to jolt the lily world, ‘Yelloween’ was introduced in 2001 with seismic reverberations. This sunny-hued bloomer with lime veins still holds the championship title for its color. Economically, it offers several virtues that cut-flower growers adore—the upturned flowers and a willingness to perform at cooler temperatures than most lilies (which saves on greenhouse heating costs). As Arie Alders of Mak Breeding says, “Some come, some go, but this lily endures.”

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.

6. CORAL LILY

In its native Siberia, China and Korea, Lilium pumilum weaves discretely through the grasslands. But when infused into the garden, its fiery colors spark, with an orange that verges on saffron. Standing about 1½ feet tall, this is one of the more demure lilies. The fact that the bulbs themselves are small makes it easy to nestle them in natural plantings. Bulb expert Anna Pavord recommends cutting the seed heads to allow as much of the plant’s strength as possible to return to the bulbs.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.

7. TIGER LILY

Legend has it that Lilium lancifolium sprang from the friendship between a hermit and a wounded tiger. When the tiger died, the hermit transformed his friend’s body into a lily. When the hermit passed, the flower spread over the Earth looking for its companion. Among the easiest lilies for naturalizing and readily visible from a distance, this species has tall (staking is imperative) candelabras bearing a constellation of luminous orange, speckled, nodding blossoms with recurved petals.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.

8. MARTAGON LILY

When a lily flower is described as a Turk’s-cap type, it’s the back-flung petals and the shape of the flower that the term describes, and lilies of several divisions share the trait. Martagon lilies are generally some of the easiest and hardiest to host. Although the flowers are relatively small, martagons go for quantity. In the case of Lilium martagon var. album, spires with two-dozen or more sparkling white flowers gradually open in a long, choreographed display.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.

9. ‘SCHEHERAZADE’

The creation of Judith Freeman, an American breeder from the West Coast, ‘Scheherazade’ is a classic Orienpet hybrid and the love child between ‘Thunderbolt’ and ‘Black Beauty’. This towering lily can stand 8 feet tall and carry a bloom load of 40 sizable flowers per stem. Blossoms can appear to be edged with white or gilt with bright-rose markings darkening to burgundy. Although the flowers are dispersed, the spires require staking.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.

10. ‘DIMENSION’

Ten years ago, Mak Breeding’s holy grail was to achieve an Asiatic lily that verged on black. Still considered the darkest maroon on the market, ‘Dimension’ is a deep, sultry shade of burgundy right down to the stamens and pistil. The petals are thick and waxy with the sheen of silk, and each flower is edged in red. Not only is ‘Dimension’ a great cut flower due to the shipability of the upturned flowers, it’s a strong garden contender as well.

SOURCES FOR LILY BULBS

In addition to the nurseries listed below, check reputable local sources.

American Meadows 877-309-7333 americanmeadows.com
B&D Lilies 360-765-4341 bdlilies.com
Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co. 513-354-1492 gurneys.com
The Lily Garden 360-253-6273 thelilygarden.com
Old House Gardens 734-995-1486 oldhousegardens.com
Van Bourgondien 800-552-9996 dutchbulbs.com
Veseys 800-363-7333 veseys.com
Wayside Gardens 800-845-1124 waysidegardens.com

PLANTS MASQUERADING AS LILIES

We call many different plants lilies, however only those in the genus Lilium are true lilies. Calla lilies, daylilies, canna lilies and spider lilies are not true lilies and have key differences that are important for gardening success. True lilies are unique in that they produce a single flower stalk from a bulb, encircled by leaves and supporting multiple flowers.

Click to enlarge.

Calla Lily (Zantedeschia)

  • Zones 8-10
  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Bulb
  • Blooms in summer and fall
  • Good cut flower

Click to enlarge.

Daylily (Hemerocallis)

  • Zones 3-9
  • Full sun
  • Perennial
  • Blooms in summer
  • Not good for cutting – flowers only last 24 hours

Click to enlarge.

Canna Lily (Canna)

  • Zones 7-10
  • Full sun
  • Perennial
  • Blooms in late summer and fall
  • Not good for cutting, wilts quickly

Click to enlarge.

Spider Lily (Lycoris)

  • Zones 6-10
  • Part sun/part shade
  • Bulb
  • Blooms in fall
  • Good cut flower

This article was adapted from its original version for use on the web.

RELATED:
Lily Hybrids
Stunning Bulbs

Asiatic, Aurelian and Oriental hybrids are probably the most popular types of lilies found in American gardens. But did you know that there are about 90 species in the genus Lilium?

In Greek mythology, the lily flower symbolized the goddess Hera and represented purity and innocence. This association is probably one of the reasons why lilies are regarded as one of the most beautiful flowers in the world. The most popular hybrids are Asiatic, Aurelian and Oriental lilies, but did you know that there are about 90 species in the genus Lilium?

Read on to learn more about nine different divisions of lilies and a few of their common cultivars, so that you can determine which would bloom best in your garden. We also created a visual guide including the top 10 most popular types of lilies to help you identify your favorite types.

Division 1: Asiatic Hybrids

The earliest bloomers, cold hardy Asiatic hybrids are the easiest to grow and boast the broadest color range. Their stems reach three to four feet tall and are topped with small (four to five inch), unscented flowers. Asiatic hybrid blossoms are up facing, outfacing, or pendant. Asiatic hybrids are one most popular types of lilies for cut flowers and potted plants. This division includes L.’Sunray’, L. ‘Montreaux’, L. ‘Dreamland’, L.’Corsica’, L. ‘Symphony’, L. ‘Connecticut King’ and L. ‘Orange Pixie’ cultivars.

To extend the life of your cut lilies, harvest them from your garden when the lower buds show color but are not yet open. If shopping for a bouquet, be sure to pick one that has plenty of buds. Remove the bottom leaves and cut at a 45-degree angle. Be sure to change the water in the vase every few days or use a floral preservative.

Division 2: Martagon Hybrids

Also known as Turk’s Cap lilies, Martagon hybrids produce small, downward facing flowers and whorled leaves. Another early bloomer, these tall lilies thrive in cool weather and shade as opposed to hot or humid climates. While they may have trouble adjusting to a new garden, these hybrid lilies will thrive once established.

The first recognized Martagon hybrid is called ‘Marhan’ (L. x dalhansonii), which was cultivated in the Netherlands in 1891. The ‘Backhouse’ hybrids were created in England towards the end of the 20th century, and the ‘Paisley’ hybrids are a rare heritage variety.

Division 3: Candidum Hybrids

The first mention of lilies dates back about 4,000 years and refers to a pure white version of the Madonna lily (L. candidum). Artifacts depicting this lily have been found in ancient cities of Crete, Greece, and Mesopotamia. Native to the Balkans and the eastern Mediterranean, this division includes most European varieties. It blooms from late spring to early summer and produces fragrant white lilies with a yellow base.

  1. ‘June Fragrance’ is the most notable cultivar in this division. It is a cross between L. candidum salonikae and L. monadelphum, and this new hybrid has since been used as a parent to create newer hybrids.

Division 4: American Hybrids

American hybrids are derived from wild lilies native to North America. They bloom in late spring (May to mid-June) in warm climates and midsummer (end of June to early July) in cooler climates.

On the west coast, you’ll find the Tiger Lily (L. columbianum) and Panther Lily (L. pardalinum). The east coast is where you’ll find the Canada Lily (L. canadense), Turk’s Cap Lily (L. superbum) and Philadelphia Lily (L. philadelphicum). The ‘Bellingham’ hybrids are the most well-known American hybrid cultivars.

Division 5: Longiflorum Hybrids

  1. Longiflorum is commonly known as an Easter Lily and used for Easter decoration. This fragrant lily is pure white with large (six to seven inches) trumpet-shaped flowers. It is native to Japan and Taiwan, and based on Japanese writings, dates back to at least the 17th century.

While it is easily raised from seed, it is not hardy in a garden and must be given a protected location to bloom. It is almost exclusively grown in containers in North America. Popular cultivars in this division include L. ‘Nellie White’, ‘Ace’, and ‘White America’.

Division 6: Trumpet and Aurelian Hybrids

Trumpets and Aurelians are classified in the same division. They prefer full sun and bloom from mid to late summer (July to August). This division is not frost hardy, so in cooler climates, you’ll want to grow these hybrids in containers.

Aurelians inherit their hardiness from the species L. henryi and are easy to grow. Aurelian sunbursts and flares (L. henryi crossed with trumpets) bloom later, have more willowy stems (often reaching 60 inches or more), and sometimes produce secondary/tertiary buds for a long season. The most notable cultivars in this division are L. ‘Black Magic’, L. ‘Black Dragon’, L. ‘Royal Gold’ and L. ‘Pink Perfection’.

Division 7: Oriental Hybrids

Oriental hybrids are derived from crossing species lilies such as L. auratum and L. speciosum. These lilies can reach heights of five feet, and have large blooms (six to eight inches) with recurved petals and strong, upright facing flowers. Their bloom time starts in late summer and can even last into the fall, although they tend to be at their showiest in August. If your soil is alkaline, you’ll want to grow these hybrids in containers.

In part due to their strong fragrance, they are among the most popular of cut flowers. Favorite Oriental hybrid cultivars are the L. ‘Casa Blanca’, L. ‘Star Gazer’ and L. ‘Mona Lisa’.

Division 8: Interdivisional Hybrids

These varieties are created by crossing plants from the other seven divisions. LA hybrids are the result of crossing L. longiflorum with Asiatic varieties, which produces large flowers (four to seven inches) that are mostly flat and have a slight fragrance.

OT hybrids involve crossing Oriental lilies with Trumpet/Aurelian lilies for robust and durable hybrids that produce large (six to ten inches), heavily scented, upward-outward facing flowers. LO Hybrids cross L. longiflorum and one or more oriental hybrid cultivars to produce large flowers (six to ten inches) which are fragrant, outward facing and trumpet-shaped with curved petals.

Division 9: Species

The lilies in this division are the wild parents of the first eight hybrid groups. Native lilies are found in temperate climates in North America, Europe, and especially Asia. In the wild, lilies mainly propagate from their seeds. Despite the fact that they can grow in the wild, they can be harder to grow than hybrids in gardens.

Lily Growing Tips

Lilies have a growing season that lasts from mid-spring until late autumn, with bloom times depending on the variety. Bulbs should be planted in the spring or fall, amongst shorter flowers that will help support their long stems which can range from two to ten feet tall to support their large showy blooms that nod downward or look to the sky.

Some varieties are easily grown from seed, such as longiflorum hybrids, but lily flowers can take up to four years to bloom. How they will perform in your garden depends on the variety; some prefer shade, some prefer sun. Some varieties, like Species and American hybrids, are harder to grow.

Of course, if you have a special event coming up (or don’t possess a green thumb), you don’t have to wait for your lilies to bloom in the garden. Stunning, elegant lily bouquets can be delivered to your home any time of the year, at a moment’s notice. With their bright colors, delicate shapes and renowned fragrance, lilies add drama to any special occasion.

10 Most Popular Types of Lilies

To help you choose your favorite types of lilies, we created a handy guide below which features the top 10 most popular types.

Sources:

Meaning & Symbolism of Lilies

Dating as far back as 1580 B.C., when images of lilies were discovered in a villa in Crete, these majestic flowers have long held a role in ancient mythology. Derived from the Greek word “leiron,” (generally assumed to refer to the white Madonna lily), the lily was so revered by the Greeks that they believed it sprouted from the milk of Hera, the queen of the gods. Lilies are known to be the May birth flower, and the 30th wedding anniversary flower.

While white lilies symbolize chastity and virtue – and were the symbol of the Virgin Mary’s purity and her role of Queen of the Angels – as other varieties became popular, they brought with them additional meanings and symbolism as well. Peruvian lilies, or alstroemeria, represent friendship and devotion, white stargazer lilies express sympathy and pink stargazer lilies represent wealth and prosperity. Symbolizing humility and devotion, lilies are the 30th anniversary flower – while lilies of the valley are the 2nd wedding anniversary flower.

As the flowers most often associated with funerals, lilies symbolize that the soul of the departed has received restored innocence after death.

View more on our Flower Type Meaning Page

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