Iris Description and Cultural Information
The genus Lilium is a huge group of plants with a wide range of sizes, shapes, and colors. There are many excellent species and such a collection of hybrids that choosing a lily can be a tough job. Trust me, I always have a difficult time deciding which lilies to grow for the nursery, which means I usually end up growing way too many. All lilies grow from a bulb made up of overlapping scales. A stalk grows from the center of the bulb and holds the flowers in a cluster at the top.
Lilium auratum, goldband lily. 3 - 6'. This lily has large white flowers with crimson spots and a prominent gold band down the length of each petal. Blooms appear in early August. Zones 4 - 9.
Lilium bulbiferum, orange lily. 3 - 4'. This lily has many upward facing red-orange flowers and has been used quite a bit in hybridizing. Zones 2 - 8.
Lilium canadense, Canada lily. 4 - 5'. This is a beautiful cool climate lily with tall, slender stems and many nodding yellow, orange, or red flowers. Zones 3 - 7.
Lilium candidum, Madonna lily. 3 - 4'. This lily has pure white, fragrant flowers. It prefers rich, well-drained soil in part sun and is best planted in the fall, about 1" below the soil surface. Plants spread from creeping roots and are best when left undisturbed. Zones 3 - 7.
Lilium henryi, Henry lily, Turk's cap lily. 4 - 6'. This lily is very hardy. It has small, spotted, golden orange flowers with reflexed petals in August. 'White Henryi' has white flowers with an orange center. Zones 4 - 8.
Lilium lancifolium (aka L. tigrinum), tiger lily. 4 - 6'. Tiger lilies have spotted, bright orange flowers with sharply reflexed petals. Small purplish-black bulbils form in the axils of the leaves and later drop to the ground to form new plants. Zones 3 - 9.
Lilium longiflorum, Easter lily. 2 - 3'. Easter lilies have fragrant white, trumpet shaped flowers and are grown as potted plants for early spring blooms. They are not cold hardy but have been used extensively with more cold hardy species to produce hardy, fragrant hybrids. Zones 7 - 9.
Lilium martagon, martagon lily, Turk's cap lily. 3 - 5'. This species has many small, pink, nodding flowers with reflexed petals that curve so far back they almost touch. 'Album' has white flowers. 'Claude Shride' has dark red flowers. 'Nepera' has rust-orange flowers. Zones 3 - 7.
Lilium regale, regal lily. 4 - 6'. This exotic, very fragrant lily has long, trumpet shaped flowers that are white on the inside and purple on the outside. 'Royal Gold' is a bright yellow version. They bloom in July and August. Zones 3 - 8.
Lilium speciosum, Japanese lily. 4 - 5'. This species is an ancestor to many of the Oriental hybrids. It is a late season bloomer with fragrant white, rose striped flowers and wavy reflexed petals. Album has white flowers. Rubrum has deep rose flowers. Zones 4 - 8.
Lilium hybrids. There are several groups of hybrids based on their flower shape, position, and parentage. These offer the endless supply of lilies on today's market with ever more hybrid combinations being produced each year.
Asiatic hybrids. 3 - 4'. These lilies are produced from several species and hundreds of cultivars are available. They are all marked by slender foliage and early blooming flowers in a very wide range of colors. Flowers may be upright or nodding, flat or reflexed. They are not fragrant. Asiatic pixie hybrids grow about 12" tall and the Asiatic Tango lilies have uniquely burgundy spotted centers. Zones 4 - 8.
Oriental hybrids. 3 - 5'. These lilies tend to have larger flowers and wider foliage than the Asiatic hybrids. They are late blooming and very fragrant. Plants may need staking to hold up the giant flowers. 'Casa Blanca' has huge white flowers on very tall stems. 'Stargazer' has deep pink flowers edged with white. Miniature Oriental hybrids grow about 24" tall. Zones 5 - 8.
Longiflorum-Asiatic (LA) hybrids. 2 - 3'. These early blooming lilies have thick, waxy flowers that are larger and more abundant than the Asiatic hybrids. They also have a sweet, subtle fragrance as a result of their Easter lily parentage. Zones 4 - 8.
Chinese trumpet hybrids. 4 - 6'. These hybrids grow very tall and have huge trumpet shaped flowers in July and August. They are very fragrant. Zones 4 - 8.
Oriental x Trumpet (OT) hybrids, also known as Orienpet lilies. 3 - 6'. This new group of hybrids combines the beauty and fragrance of the Oriental lilies with the heat tolerance and colors of the trumpet hybrids. Many of the flowers look like deeply reflexed varieties with Oriental lily colors while others have the color and character of the regal lilies but with outward, open petals. Zones 4 - 9.
How to Grow: Most species and hybrids prefer to be grown in average to rich, loamy, well-drained soil in full sun to partial shade. With the exception of L. candidum, bulbs should be planted about 4 to 6" below the soil. Regal and trumpet lilies need full sun to produce sturdy stems and reliable blooms. In general, good drainage is the key to success, and if any of your lilies produce yellow mottling on the leaves be sure to dig up and destroy the bulbs as this is usually a sign of an incurable virus.
To propagate or transplant your lilies they can be dug, divided, and replanted after flowering in early fall, just as the stems are starting to go dormant. Plants can also be propagated by burying stems to produce bulbils along the axils, pealing off and replanting individual bulbs scales, or can be grown from seed.
Landscape uses: Lilies are great summer blooming plants grown for their fragrance, beauty, and wide range of colors. For a continuous assortment of summer color and wonderful cut flowers, mix the various species and hybrids and you will have lilies from early June through August. By under planting other perennials with tall lilies you can produce a prolonged season of color in mixed beds and borders. For example, a peony bed can be mixed with tall Oriental lilies providing early summer peony blooms and late summer fragrant lily blooms.