Boasting some of the brightest and biggest petals in the plant kingdom, not to mention potent perfumes, lilies unfold their gorgeous blooms from early summer to early fall. There are several types to choose from, including Asiatic, the enticingly fragrant Oriental, and longiflora hybrids. Each offers an array of colors and forms.
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Lilies look at home in all areas of the landscape. Plant them near an entryway or patio to enjoy their beauty and fragrance. Add a group of eight to 10 bulbs to a border for a dramatic midsummer display. To stage a lily show all summer, grow some of each type, including Asiatic, which starts blooming in June; the late-blooming, extremely fragrant Oriental; and longiflorum hybrids that provide color in between the other bloom times.
Pair lilies with spring- and early-summer-blooming plants such as peonies, catmint, Siberian iris, spiderwort, and shrub roses. Call on purple coneflower, black-eyed Susan, and Russian sage to pick up blooming when lilies fade. When planting lilies alongside companions, plant the bulbs in drifts of five or more bulbs of a single variety. Avoid mixing lily cultivars or the scene will take on a chaotic, busy appearance.
Lily Care Must-Knows
Plant bulbs in spring or fall when the soil is cool. Choose a spot that receives full sun or part shade and has well-drained soil. Lilies will tolerate extended dry periods once established, but they will rot in soggy soil.
Plant each bulb about 6 inches deep with its pointed tip facing up and its roots in contact with the soil at the bottom of the planting hole. For quick and easy planting, dig a large trench and plant several bulbs together, spacing the bulbs 6 inches apart. Cover the trench with soil and water well. In Zones 5 and below, cover fall-planted bulbs with a 2-inch-thick layer of mulch to protect them from temperature extremes.
Some lilies become top-heavy when in bloom. Stake tall lily varieties early in the season to prevent damaging plants as you work in the garden. Use garden twine to tie the stem to a bamboo stake in the soil near the bulb.
Pests occasionally bother lilies. Deer will eat young foliage and blossoms. Rabbits will eat young plants. On the East Coast, bright red lily beetles are becoming a problem. Treat the soil around the plants to control larvae, or pick the adult beetles off blooms to prevent damaged petals. Japanese beetles will disfigure lily flowers shortly after they open.
More Varieties of Lily
'Catherine Laburi' Asiatic lily
Lilium 'Catherine Laburi' is an Asiatic type with soft peach trumpet flowers that flaunt deeper salmon-color throats. It grows 2 feet tall. Zones 3-8
'Enchantment' Asiatic lily
Lilium 'Enchantment' bears brilliant orange trumpets speckled in red. It grows 3 feet tall. Zones 3-8
'Connecticut King' Asiatic lily
Lilium 'Connecticut King' features orange-yellow flowers that open in bunches in midsummer above lush foliage. It grows 3 feet high. Zones 3-8
'Centerfold' Asiatic lily
This lily variety sports unique maroon crosshatching in its white flower centers. It grows 3 feet tall. Zones 3-8
'King Pete' Asiatic lily
This cultivar blooms in midsummer with cream-color flowers that are speckled in orange. It grows 3 feet tall. Zones 3-8
This type of Lily has pink to red flowers that dangle from the stems. It grows 66 inches tall. Zones 4-8
'Dani Arifin' lily
This variety is a dramatic hybrid between an easy-growing Asiatic lily and an Easter lily. It offers large antique-rose flowers in early summer and grows 32 inches tall. Zones 4-8
Lilium pumilum is a wild lily that bears clusters of cardinal-red capped flowers splotched with yellow that dangle from tall stems in late spring. It grows 22 inches tall. Zones 3-8
Lilium speciosum var. album
Lilium speciosum var. album shows off pure-white flowers with strongly reflexed petals. It grows 66 inches tall. Zones 4-8
'Muscadet' Oriental lily
This variety has strongly fragrant white flowers speckled and blushed with pink. It blooms in August and grows 5 feet tall. Zones 5-8
This cultivar is a wild-type lily that bears clusters of pink or red-purple flowers with strongly reflexed petals. It does best in moist, well-drained soil and appreciates part shade in hot-summer climates. It grows 6 feet tall. Zones 3-7
'Montreaux' Asiatic lily
Lilium 'Montreaux' sports coral-pink blooms that open in midsummer on plants that grow 4 feet tall. Zones 3-8
'Nove Cento' Asiatic lily
Lilium 'Nove Cento' bears bright yellow flowers lightly spotted in brown. It grows 32 inches tall. Zones 3-9
'Purple Rain' Asiatic lily
This cultivar shows off white flowers that have a rich burgundy-purple brush mark at the base of each petal. It grows 32 inches tall. Zones 3-9
'Satin Slippers' Asiatic lily
Lilium 'Satin Slippers' rewards gardeners in early summer with a show of soft-pink blooms with recurved petals. It grows 32 inches tall. Zones 3-9
'Vivaldi' Asiatic lily
This variety presents wonderful soft-rose blooms that blend well with a wide range of colors. It grows 3 feet tall. Zones 3-8
Garden Plans for Lily
Along a Path Garden Plan
Add interest and texture to any winding walkway with this garden plan.
Long-Blooming Rock Garden Plan
This colorful rock garden is designed around a couple of very large boulders, but could easily be adapted to any rock garden setting.
Summer-Blooming Front-Yard Cottage Garden Plan
Create charm and curb appeal in your front yard with this lush, beautiful cottage garden plan.
Drought-Tolerant Garden Plan
This informal mixed garden bed features drought-tolerant trees, evergreen shrubs, perennials, and annuals.
Foolproof Foundation Garden Plan
Dress up the front of your home with this interesting combination of plants.
Bold Woodland Garden Plan
Add a bright dose of color to a spot under a canopy of tree leaves.
English-Style Front-Yard Garden Plan
Give your home a welcoming feel with an exuberant cottage garden in the front yard.
Heat-Loving Garden Plan
Create a stylish garden that looks good all summer with this super-simple garden plan.
Hot-Summer Garden Plan
Maintenance is a breeze with this heat-resistant, high-color garden plan. Follow our guide to get the look in your green space.