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Lilies Lilium

Other Common Name(s):

Other plants called Lilies:

Phonetic Spelling
LIL-ee-um
Description

Lilies are herbaceous perennial summer bulbous geophytes that overwinter well without having to be removed from the ground for storage. The bulbs of the plant have white, purplish or yellow fleshy scales. They prefer a location with full sun to PM sun for the leaves, shade for the roots, and well-drained, fertile soil and mulch to keep the root zone cool.  Overly moist soil can cause bulb rot but the soil should not be allowed to dry out completely.  Plant bulbs 8" deep in the fall and be rewarded with showy blooms from June-August.  They are often utilized as border or cut flowers, specimen plants, and in mass planting. They can be grown in a container but will be somewhat smaller.  \Taller plants may need to be staked. Dead-head blooms to reduce energy spent on creating seed and cut back stems after bloom and when they begin to turn yellow.

Lily groups
Horticulturists typically recognize several groups of lily species and their hybrids. It should be noted that botanists recognize somewhat different groups, but the horticultural groups are most applicable here:

  • Asiatic Lilies – These lilies are widely available. They are easy to grow, are short in stature (less than 3 feet tall) but have no fragrance. Asiatic hybrids sold as bedding plants or potted plants typically have upward-facing flowers, but other Asiatic hybrids may have outward-facing or pendulous flowers. Their bulbs are typically white.
  • Martagon Lilies – These tall lilies bear many, small, downward-facing flowers and whorled leaves. Their bulbs are usually yellow. Martagon hybrids tolerate some shade and are well-suited to woodland gardens, where they can thrive for many years. Martagon hybrids are not suited to hot, humid environments.
  • American Lilies – These lilies are derived from North American species such as L. superbum, L. humboldtii, L. michauxii and L. parryii. They like cool, moist soil in dappled shade. They have pendulous flowers that are usually not fragrant (L. michauxii is fragrant). They have loose bulb scales or elongated, sub-rhizomatous bulbs.
  • Longiflorum Lilies – These are the classic Easter lilies with long, trumpet-shaped, white flowers. This group includes the species L. longiflorum and L. formosanum. These are commonly grown as potted plants.
  • Trumpet and Aurelian Lilies – This group includes the species L. regale and L. henryi, both of which are popular herbaceous perennials for the sunny border. They may have trumpet-shaped flowers or open flowers with recurved tepals. The flowers are outward-facing or pendulous and come in many colors. The species L. sargentiae and L. sulphureum are included in this group. Trumpet lilies have purple-tinged bulbs.
  • Oriental Lilies – These are the most spectacular lilies of the garden. They are tall plants (up to 8 feet), with whorled leaves and many, large, outward-facing, fragrant flowers in various colors, often with contrasting spots on their tepals. These lilies are often used as cut flowers. Their bulbs are usually yellow. Hybrids in this group grow well in acidic, humus-rich, moist soil. Use an organic mulch to keep the roots cool. Hybrids in this group are derived from L. auratum, L. speciosum and others.
  • Orienpet Hybrids – These lilies are hybrids between Oriental and Trumpet lilies. They come in a variety of colors and are fragrant. Their large flowers are intermediate in shape, and the plants are tall. 

Insects, Diseases, and Other Plant Problems: Aphids can vector lily mosaic virus (no cure once infection occurs); botrytis, bulb rot (from wet, poorly-drained soils).

Quick ID Hints:

  • Erect, often unbranched plants with sessile leaves
  • Flowers appear fused, but tepals are free to base
  • Filaments attached at the base of each tepal


VIDEO Created by Elisabeth Meyer for "Edibles, Bulbs, and Houseplants" a plant identification course offered in partnership with Longwood Gardens.   

Profile Video:
See this plant in the following landscapes:
Courtyard Garden Flower Bonanza Garden Davidson County Extension Demonstration Garden
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Emily', Lilum Asiatic Hybrids, Lilum Oriental Hybrids, 'Little Girl'
Tags:
#fragrant#bulb#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#specimen#colorful#mass planting#herbaceous#herbaceous perennial#summer bulbs#afternoon sun#border planting#cutting garden#fantz#partial shade tolerant#problem for cats#ebh#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#ebh-g#container plant#perennial#th-sight
 
Cultivars / Varieties:
'Emily', Lilum Asiatic Hybrids, Lilum Oriental Hybrids, 'Little Girl'
Tags:
#fragrant#bulb#showy flowers#full sun tolerant#fragrant flowers#specimen#colorful#mass planting#herbaceous#herbaceous perennial#summer bulbs#afternoon sun#border planting#cutting garden#fantz#partial shade tolerant#problem for cats#ebh#non-toxic for horses#non-toxic for dogs#ebh-g#container plant#perennial#th-sight
  • Attributes:
    Genus:
    Lilium
    Family:
    Liliaceae
    Life Cycle:
    Bulb
    Bulb Storage:
    Not necessary but moist peat at 35 deg F (2 deg C)
    Dimensions:
    Height: 1 ft. 0 in. - 6 ft. 0 in.
    Width: 0 ft. 8 in. - 2 ft. 0 in.
  • Whole Plant Traits:
    Plant Type:
    Bulb
    Perennial
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Habit/Form:
    Erect
    Growth Rate:
    Rapid
    Maintenance:
    Low
    Texture:
    Coarse
  • Cultural Conditions:
    Light:
    Full sun (6 or more hours of direct sunlight a day)
    Partial Shade (Direct sunlight only part of the day, 2-6 hours)
    Soil Texture:
    High Organic Matter
    Soil pH:
    Acid (<6.0)
    Soil Drainage:
    Good Drainage
    Available Space To Plant:
    12 inches-3 feet
    NC Region:
    Coastal
    Mountains
    Piedmont
    USDA Plant Hardiness Zone:
    3a, 3b, 4a, 4b, 5a, 5b, 6a, 6b, 7a, 7b, 8a, 8b
  • Fruit:
    Fruit Color:
    Green
    Fruit Type:
    Capsule
    Fruit Description:
    Three part capsule that splits open
  • Flowers:
    Flower Color:
    Cream/Tan
    Gold/Yellow
    Orange
    Pink
    Purple/Lavender
    Red/Burgundy
    Variegated
    White
    Flower Inflorescence:
    Raceme
    Flower Value To Gardener:
    Fragrant
    Good Cut
    Showy
    Flower Bloom Time:
    Summer
    Flower Shape:
    Cup
    Funnel
    Flower Petals:
    6 petals/rays
    Colored Sepals
    Tepals
    Flower Size:
    3-6 inches
    Flower Description:
    Born at the tips of stems, the often fragrant and showy flowers bloom June to August. Often have spots or stripes. Flowers are erect (cup-shaped), horizontal (funnelform or bowl-shaped), or pendulous (campanulate). They have 6 tepals, and 6 filaments at the base of each tepal. They are ovary superior and style 1. The inflorescence is a terminal raceme or umbel and occasionally flowers solitary. Makes beautiful cut flowers and comes in many different colors. Note: pollen can stain clothing and skin.
  • Leaves:
    Woody Plant Leaf Characteristics:
    Deciduous
    Leaf Color:
    Green
    Leaf Type:
    Simple
    Leaf Arrangement:
    Alternate
    Whorled
    Leaf Shape:
    Elliptical
    Lanceolate
    Linear
    Leaf Margin:
    Entire
    Hairs Present:
    No
    Leaf Length:
    3-6 inches
    Leaf Width:
    1-3 inches
    Leaf Description:
    Leaves are whorled to alternate, crowded to scattered, linear to elliptic, and usually sessile to clasping. Veins are visibly parallel.
  • Stem:
    Stem Color:
    Green
    Stem Is Aromatic:
    No
  • Landscape:
    Landscape Location:
    Container
    Patio
    Landscape Theme:
    Cottage Garden
    Garden for the Blind
    Design Feature:
    Border
    Mass Planting
    Specimen
    Problems:
    Problem for Cats