Category Archives: Lilies

Do You Know Your Lily Varieties?

Lilies are one of the truly great garden plants for their flower forms, diversity, extended season of bloom, graceful stature, and reliable disposition. Their bulbs can be planted in spring for bloom the same year, or in fall for bloom the following year.

The sequence of bloom begins in early summer with the colorful Asiatics, Martagon Lilies (also called Turk’s Cap Lilies), and then continues until late summer with other Species Lilies and three tall, fragrant groups: Orientals, Orienpets (hybrids between Orientals and Trumpets), and Trumpets.

Here’s a primer to help familiarize you with the different types:

redtwin
Asiatic Lily ‘Red Twin’®: The large, 7″ salsa red double blooms of this Asiatic variety add fire to the summer border. Note the elegantly formed inner bloom with narrow reflexed petals.

Asiatic Lilies

Asiatic Lilies are early-blooming, colorful, and vigorous. Colors range from the softest pastels to fiery reds and oranges that practically ignite in the sun. Blooms vary from simple open bowls to exquisite recurved flowers. Their straight stems and high bud count make them superb cut flowers.

Lilium ‘Star Gazer’: When Leslie Woodriff, a Lily breeder in California, created 'Star Gazer' a quarter of a century ago, it instantly set a new standard for Oriental Lilies. This fragrant hybrid grew beautifully in the average garden, and its large, upfacing blooms on strong stems were outstanding as cut flowers.
Oriental Lily ‘Star Gazer’: When Leslie Woodriff, a Lily breeder in California, created ‘Star Gazer’ a quarter of a century ago, it instantly set a new standard for Oriental Lilies. This fragrant hybrid grew beautifully in the average garden, and its large, upfacing blooms on strong stems were outstanding as cut flowers.

Oriental Lilies

Oriental Lilies are best known for their huge flowers and intense perfume. They come in a wide variety of heights, forms, and colors, and put on a magnificent, late-summer show.

Trumpet Lily ‘Ice Caves’: An abundance of big white blooms with frosty green throats are presented on long graceful stems. The flowers appear midsummer on statuesque plants about 5′ tall, and they produce a delightful fragrance.

Trumpet Lilies

As the name might suggest, these Lilies have lovely, trumpet-shaped flowers borne on long graceful stems. Their intoxicating scent can perfume an entire garden.

‘Silk Road’: Here is an Orienpet Lily with huge, intoxicatingly fragrant 8″ flowers that are borne on spires up to 2′ across for longer than you thought possible. It’s the winner of the North American Lily Society's popularity poll for 4 straight years.
Orienpet Lily ‘Silk Road’: Here is an Orienpet Lily with huge, intoxicatingly fragrant 8″ flowers that are borne on spires up to 2′ across for longer than you thought possible. It’s the winner of the North American Lily Society’s popularity poll for 4 straight years.

Orienpet Lilies

Orienpet Lilies are crosses between Oriental and Trumpet Lilies. They combine the best features of both groups — fragrance, large flowers, and sturdy garden performance — and they bloom about 2 weeks earlier than Orientals.

Lilium langkongense: These recurved, lavender-pink bells possess an exquisite charm and grace. They deepen in color as they age and are heavily spotted in maroon. This fragrant Species Lily comes from the mountainous regions of southwestern China, and prefers regular moisture, well-drained soil, and a bit of shade in the heat of the day.]
Species Lily langkongense: These recurved, lavender-pink bells possess an exquisite charm and grace. They deepen in color as they age and are heavily spotted in maroon. This fragrant Species Lily comes from the mountainous regions of southwestern China, and prefers regular moisture, well-drained soil, and a bit of shade in the heat of the day.

Species Lilies

Delicate and graceful Species Lilies carry their flowers on candelabra-shaped stems, and are generally more tolerant of shade. Their elegant show improves with each passing year. They combine well with perennials and annuals in a mixed border.

Claude Shride
Martagon Lily ‘Claude Shride’: A cherished classic from the 1970s, this Martagon (Turkscap) hybrid displays a tall candelabra of downward-facing, recurved, dark red blossoms highlighted with yellow-orange spots. Because the small, waxy flowers will bloom in light shade, highlight this fine variety with Hostas and other woodlanders.

Martagon Lilies

A subgroup of Species Lilies also known as ‘Turk’s Caps,’ Martagons are lovely and elegant plants whose graceful, willowy stature and shapely flowers are entirely captivating and perfectly magical in the lightly shaded nooks they seem to prefer. Traditionally this species has been known to be tricky to keep happy since it is slow to establish, but newer hybrids take hold more quickly.

Lily leaf beetle

Battling the Lily Leaf Beetle

Gardeners in the Northeast must be on the lookout for the Lily leaf beetle, which feeds on Lily foliage, buds, and flowers in both its larval and adult form. Luckily, both life stages are easily recognized: the adult is slightly less than ½” long, with a brilliant scarlet body and black head and appendages. The larvae look a bit like lumpy slugs but are orange, brown, or greenish yellow with black heads; they pile their black excrement on their backs as they feed. (Gross, right?) From March through June, look on the undersides of the leaves for the orange eggs and destroy them. Handpicking works if only a few plants are present; for a larger planting, neem products are effective for young larvae and will deter adults, and insecticides containing spinosad will control the insect (but avoid using these when bees are active). Occasionally, aphids will infect Lilies with Lily mosaic virus, which results in yellow streaking or mottling of the leaves; this virus is mainly problematic in the species. Watch for aphids and rinse off with a forceful water spray.