Lilies are beautiful, diverse, and famous for very good reasons.
For one thing, these perennial plants are extremely easy to care for and provide a cascading show of color from spring through fall with proper care and when planted correctly.
In this article, we will discuss lily care and provide you with useful information and resources on the many varieties of lilies available to gardeners today.
Read on to learn more.
What Do Lilies Look Like?
Lilies come in a dazzling array of heights, shapes, patterns, and colors.
Their six-petaled flowers may vary in appearance but are structurally quite similar.
Flowers typically bloom atop a tall, stiff stalk amidst long, green, lance-shaped leaves, but there are some notable exceptions.
Lilies can roughly be divided into seven groups.
These groups are:
- Asiatic Lilies
- Oriental Lilies
- Orienpet Lilies
- Martagon Lilies
- Trumpet Lilies
- Easter Lilies
The most popular types of garden lilies are Asiatic and Oriental lilies.
It’s good to have a minimum of these two types in your garden to keep fairly continuous blooming throughout the spring, summer, and autumn.
Adding some of the other varieties, along with some pseudo-lilies (plants called lilies but are not members of the Liliaceae family) can ensure robust blooming throughout the entire growing season.
There Are Endless Choices In Lilies!
No matter where you live, you will surely find lots of beautiful possibilities in lily bulbs and similar plants to fill your garden.
Here is a comprehensive listing of some of the most popular types of lilies and pseudo-lilies available to you.
For details on caring for Asiatic lilies, see our article on: Asiatic Lily Care – How To Grow Asiatic Lilies
Asiatic lilies are big bloomers.
Their large, flashy blossoms come in a wide variety of patterns, shapes, and colors ranging from very pale pastels to very intense primary colors.
There are many hybrids in this category.
Early blooming Asiatic lilies are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 4 through 9.
These lilies are easy to care for as long as they are provided with light, well-draining soil and plenty of sunlight.
Fragrance-free Asiatic lilies usually stand between 2’ – 3’ feet high and are available in a wide variety of colors ranging from pale pastels to vibrant tropical shades.
Although these blossoms are odorless, their dramatic color more than makes up for the deficiency.
Popular Asiatic Lilies include:
- Crete stands 3’ – 4’ feet high and produces beautiful pink blossoms from early to mid-summer.
- Enchantment stands 2’ – 3’ feet high and produces bright orange blossoms in early June.
- Tiny Todd blooms in the middle of the summer with a pretty show of pale pink and white lightly fragrant blossoms. The glossy, bright green foliage of these lilies is the main drawing card.
- Rosella’s Dream produces showy, and white blooms tipped in cherry pink and speckled with brown in the center. This is a compact and easy to grow lily which does well in small garden settings.
- Citronella is a good choice for naturalizing in a large garden setting. The flowers are deep golden yellow and marked with darker reddish-orange specks. These lilies may grow to be as tall as 5’ feet. The blooms are pendant rather than upward facing.
- Blackout has extremely dark crimson blossoms looking almost black and remain erect rather than dangling. These small lilies grow to be only about 3’ feet tall, so they make good container or border plants.
- Black Spider is another small lily growing to be only about 3’ feet high. Its flowers are creamy-white with extremely deep burgundy (nearly black) centers.
- Brindisi is an early bloomer producing pretty pink flowers with deep pink centers. The blossoms’ pleasant scent and the plants’ attractive foliage brighten the garden during the early and mid-summer months.
- Brunello produces deep orange, bowl-shaped blossoms with dark red stamens. The blooms are as large as 8” inches across.
- Dot Com also produces 8” inches wide, white flowers with deep red centers. Although the blooms are large, the plant is fairly compact topping out at 3’ feet tall. The large flowers grow nine to a stem.
- Fire King grows to be 4’ feet high and produces blazing reddish-orange flowers flecked with purple.
- Gran Paradiso produces lovely, deep red bowl-shaped flowers. It’s deep green foliage sets up a very attractive contrast.
- Grand Cru is a lively lily with bright yellow, upward-facing blossoms sporting deep burgundy centers.
- King Pete is another bright yellow lily with centers in shades of deep yellow and chocolate. This award-winning, compact lily grows to be only 3’ feet high.
- Montenegro is another 3’ foot tall lily producing 8” inches wide, bright red, bowl-shaped blossoms.
- Patricia’s Pride grows to be 4’ feet tall and produces lovely, creamy white blossoms with deep red (nearly black) centers. Flowers are upward-facing and open.
- Leichtlinii Lily is one of several types of wild lilies originating in Japan. This pretty wildflower has very slim petals and stems. The scentless blooms are pale yellow gold with chocolate sprinkles. The plant can grow to be 4’ feet tall.
For details on Oriental lilies, see our article: Oriental Lily Care – Growing The Tough, Fragrant, Showy Liliaceae Orientalis
Deeply fragrant Oriental hybrid lilies are excellent late bloomers.
They typically begin blooming in the middle of the summer and continue through the early autumn.
They range tremendously in height.
There are dwarf varieties standing only a couple of feet high and giants reaching heights as tall as 8’ feet high.
Dwarf varieties do very well in container gardens or as an edging around patios or long walkways.
They are especially delightful when planted under windows or in areas where people gather in the evening because their fragrance becomes even more intense after dark.
Slow-growing Oriental lilies bloom after Asiatic lilies have finished.
Their flowers are large and abundant, and their colors are typically softer and more pastel than those of Asiatic lilies.
Even so, they offer plenty of interest because they are marked with a wide variety of spots, freckles, and stripes.
Oriental lilies are a bit of a challenge to grow, but their pretty curled back petals are well worth the effort.
Popular Oriental Lilies include:
- Casablanca stands 4’ – 5’ feet high and produces lovely white blossoms throughout the months of August and September.
- Souvenir produces 6” inches wide, bowl-shaped blossoms in an attractive shade of deep magenta. Stamens are dark reddish-orange, offset by white markings near the throat of the bloom. Foliage is a deep and attractive shade of green.
- Starlight Express may produce as many as fifteen pretty, fuchsia blooms adorned by white tips. The edges of the blossoms are ruffled for a very fancy appearance. This small hybrid only grows to be about 16” inches high.
- Casablanca produces bright white, deeply scented blooms with stunning, reddish-orange anthers.
- Dizzy produces creamy white blossoms marked with a red raspberry stripe along the center of each petal and attractive flecks of red overall.
- Entertainer is a small lily growing only about 20” inches high and produces pretty bright pink blooms with white centers.
- Tom Palouse is another small lily growing to be only 8” inches high. This compact plant produces pretty purplish-pink blossoms reaching 8” inches across. Each blossom is adorned by bright yellow streaks along with the petals.
- Stargazer is a hybrid cross between Asiatic lilies and a wild Japanese red lily. Flowers are bright red with deep red freckles and attractive white edging.
Orienpet lilies are hybrid crosses of Aurelia, Trumpet and/or Oriental lilies.
Like most hybrids, they feature the best aspects of their parents.
Orienpet lilies are stunningly beautiful, richly fragrant and highly adaptable.
Popular Varieties include:
- Lady Alice is a hybrid with creamy white blossoms with sprinkles of cinnamon and deep orange centers. Lady Alice can grow to be 4’ feet tall. Flowers are deeply fragrant.
- Silk Road is a popular variety reaching to be 6’ feet high and sports lovely pink and white blossoms.
- Robert Swanson produces abundant numbers of large, bright red blooms with blazing yellow tips. These 5’ foot high plants may produce as many as forty deeply scented blossoms on each stalk.
- Altari Lily blossoms are star-shaped and roughly a foot across. These bright, raspberry-colored flowers with white-tipped petals are intensely fragrant. They may attain a height of 4’ feet.
- Anastasia produces flat, fragrant blooms in great abundance. The rosy pink flowers are tipped in white and may number as many as thirty blossoms per stalk.
- Belladonna produces a beautiful golden yellow, bowl-shaped bloom with a lovely scent. The blossoms often measure 7” inches across, and the plant stands 4’ feet high.
- Flashpoint produces pretty, creamy white star-shaped blooms with purplish-red stripes.
- Gluhwein produces multicolored blossoms in shades of red, white, pink, and cream. The foliage is extremely deep green, and the stems are such a dark shade of green they look black. This four-foot-high lily is a striking addition to any garden.
- Black Beauty produces deep crimson flowers so dark they appear as black. The margins of the flowers are pale white, and a pretty green star appears in the center of the bloom. Blossoms are abundant, often numbering 150 per stalk. These head-turning plants can grow to be 7’ feet tall.
- Tiger Lilies were formerly considered to be Asiatic lilies, but they are a cross between Asiatic lilies and tigrinum or lancifolium species. These popular lilies come in bright shades of red and orange and sport flashy markings in shades of rust and burgundy.
For more details, see our article: Tiger Lily Flower: How To Care For Tiger Lilies [UPDATED]
Fragrant Trumpet lilies are also hybrids of Asiatic species of lilies.
They are hardy in USDA hardiness zones 5 through 9.
As the name implies, they produce gorgeous trumpet-shaped flowers in great abundance.
In fact, these lilies have been known to yield as many as fifteen flowers on a single stalk.
Trumpet lilies are also known as Aurelian lilies. These are the lilies we are most familiar with because of their classic trumpet-shaped blooms and luscious scent.
Trumpet lilies bloom slightly later in the season than Asiatic lilies, so they fill in space before Oriental lilies start to bloom.
Good choices in Trumpet Lilies include:
- Regale stands 3’ – 4’ feet high with dazzling white blossoms throughout the summer months.
- Rising Moon also stands 3’ – 4’ feet high and shows off lovely pale yellow blossoms with pink edging in the middle of the summer.
- African Queen is a showstopper with large, bright orange trumpets facing either upward or downward. The outside of the blooms sport deep, bronze-colored markings. Blossoms are long-lasting and abundant producing as many as twenty blooms per stalk.
- Golden Splendor produces 6” inch wide yellowish gold blooms with burgundy markings along the outer surfaces of the petals. This award-winning lily can grow to be 4’ feet tall and is drought-tolerant.
- Pink Perfection adds a great deal of drama to any garden with its 10” inches wide, purplish-pink blooms sporting deep reddish-purple markings on the outside. The long-lasting fragrance is exotic and appealing and makes this 6’ foot tall lily a good choice as a privacy screen by your deck or patio.
- Regale’s blossoms are bright white, adorned with pinkish-purple streaks and yellow centers. The aroma is deep and heady. The plant may grow as many as twenty-five long-lasting blooms per stalk.
Easter Lilies are also known as Liliaceae longiflorum.
This is an extremely familiar Lily because it is used in Christian Easter ceremonies.
These lilies come from Japan’s Ryukyu Islands.
Easter lilies can grow to be about 3’ feet high, and their pretty, white trumpet-shaped blossoms are a bit slimmer than those of the classic Trumpet Lily.
Their fragrance is also somewhat lighter.
These lilies grow naturally in some parts of Asia and throughout Europe.
You may also hear them referred to as Turk’s Cap Lily.
The flowers of this type of lily are waxy, numerous, and downward facing.
The petals curl back upon themselves.
Foliage grows in a distinctive whorled formation.
Martagon hybrid lilies also have curled back petals, but the blossoms are quite small and quite numerous.
Martagon hybrids produce multiple daintily marked blossoms on extremely tall stalks.
The blooms hang downward in a manner similar to the Lily of the Valley.
Interesting choices in Martagon lilies include:
- Arabian Knight produces up to fifty deeply fragrant, gorgeous dark gold blooms with deep mahogany spots. The downward-facing blooms appear in midsummer, and the plants can grow to be as tall as 6’ feet high.
- Claude Shride is another downward-facing lily producing deep red flowers with curved petals adorned with right orange spots. This Martagon lily also grows to be 6’ feet tall and is self-seeding under ideal conditions.
- Manitoba Morning also has downward-facing blooms with curved petals in shades of pinkish red with creamy yellow centers Petals are marked with deep mahogany spots.
What Are the Different Types of Lilies?
There are also a few oddball lilies, members of the Liliaceae family but differ significantly in their size, shape, and appearance.
One such lily is the Foxtail Lily, which grows from a star-shaped, tuberous root, produces colorful bottle-brush-like blossoms and stands 9’ feet tall.
To learn more about this interesting lily, see our article: Foxtail Lily Growing And Care Of Eremurus Lilies
Another rather odd true lily is the Fritillaria.
This interesting and attractive plant grows wild on grassy flood plains across Europe, Russia and the south of England.
Grass-like foliage springs from very small bulbs. The plants are topped with two-foot-long stalks bearing dangling, bell-like blossoms in an interesting array of mottled and solid colors.
To learn more about this interesting lily, see our article: How To Care For And Grow Fritillaria Bulbs
There are also many similar plants commonly called lilies but are not true lilies because they are not members of the Liliaceae family.
Many of them are members of the Amaryllidaceae or Amaryllis family others are Calla or Canna lilies.
For example, Lipstick Lily is a calla lily producing as many as thirty bright scarlet blooms per stem.
The small blossoms are about 2” inches wide and sweetly fragrant. This compact, award-winning plant grows to be only 2’ feet high.
Other examples include:
- Gloriosa Rothschildiana
- Lily of the Valley
- Canna Lilies
- Calla Lilies
- Crinum lily
- Spider Lily
- White Crinum Lily
- Amaryllis Belladonna Lily
- Nerine Lily
- Amazon Lily
- Blood Lily
- Aztec Lily
- Fire Lily
- Mariposa Lily
- Pineapple Lily
- Lavender Mountain Lily
- Lycoris Squamigera
- Blue African Lily of the Nile
- Peruvian Daffodil Lily
- Clivia Plant
- Mexican Tiger Flower
- Giant Himalayan Lily – Cardiocrinum Giganteum
To learn more about any of the lovely lily-like flowers on this list, simply click on the plant name to go to our complete article.
Most of these plants have similar care needs to true lilies, and they mix well in your lily garden.
The fact they are slight imposters should not bother you or anyone else.
As mentioned, many of these plants are members of the Amaryllidaceae family.
To learn more about Amaryllis, see our article: Amaryllis Plant Care – Anyone Can Grow Amaryllis Bulbs
When you choose a good mix of early bloomers, midseason bloomers, and late blooming varieties, along with the many similar companion plants we’ve listed here, you’ll get to enjoy bright, beautiful blossoms in your garden from early in the springtime until quite late in the autumn.
Caring For Lily and Lily-Like Plants
For best results, choose and plant your bulbs in the autumn about a month before the first freeze.
This will give them a chance to set down roots without sprouting and blooming.
Bulbs typically go dormant through the winter, and many benefit from the deep cold of the winter months.
There are two exceptions, however.
- In areas with extremely harsh winters, plant your bulbs in the springtime to prevent them from freezing solid.
- If you live in USDA hardiness zones 9 through 10, store your bulbs in the refrigerator through the winter and plant them early in the spring in order to get good blooms.
Generally, lilies grow best in USDA hardiness zones 3 through 8.
As mentioned, a time of dormancy and cold temperatures is necessary for healthy lilies.
Plant in a Bright Spot With Well Draining Soil
All true lilies and pseudo-lilies like lots of sunshine and airy, well-draining slightly acidic or neutral soil.
Your setting should receive at least 6 to 8 hours of bright sun daily.
If you plant your bulbs in a shady place, the stems will stretch and lean in an attempt to get more sun.
This will result in plants lying on the ground rather than standing up strong and proud.
Standing in water is detrimental to all plants, and it is especially bad for lily bulbs because they have overlapping scales which hold in excess water.
Prepare The Soil
When you plant your bulbs, be sure to turn the soil thoroughly. Soil should be nice and loose and well worked to a depth of 1’ foot to 15” inches.
Work in some well-rotted organic matter or leaf mold to improve drainage and add nutrients to the soil.
Planting deep encourages the bulbs to send out abundant roots and develop strong stems.
Additionally, deep planting provides the bulbs with protection from the cold winter weather and excessively hot temperatures in the summertime.
Always be sure your bulbs are planted to a depth at least three times their height, and each bulb should have a space equaling about three times its width on all sides.
Planting lilies too close together causes poor air circulation, which may lead to problems with mold, snails, and slugs.
Plant Your Bulbs
Naturally, you should be certain the pointy end of the bulb is facing up!
Cover the bulbs completely and pat the soil down with your hands to firm it in place.
After planting, provide a thorough watering.
Lilies of all sorts are very attractive to pests such as groundhogs, voles, rabbits, and deer.
To protect your bulbs from underground predators, you may need to put the bulbs in wire cages before planting.
To protect against deer, you may need to fence your bulbs off or alternately, simply lay down a length of wire mesh fencing around the perimeter of your lily bed.
Deer do not like to walk on areas with precarious footing, and fence laid down around plants can keep them away.
Mulch also provides your bulbs with protection against extremes in temperature, while conserving water.
The surface of the mulch should feel slightly moist but never soggy.
Another way of protecting your lilies and preventing loss of moisture in the soil is to plant low growing annual plants or perennial groundcovers amongst them.
Established Lilies Are Easy to Care For
Water & Feed: Be sure to provide ample water whenever your level of rainfall is less than an inch weekly during the growing season.
If you don’t have snow in your area, water occasionally throughout the winter months, you don’t want the soil to be soggy; however, don’t allow it to dry out completely.
In the springtime, before you add mulch for the summer months provide nourishment by adding an inch of compost over the surface of the soil surrounding your plants.
Give your lilies a meal of high potassium fertilizer twice a month until six weeks after they have finished flowering.
Groom & Tidy: Unlike many plants, deadheading will not encourage lilies to bloom more.
Each plant will bloom only one time during its growing season.
Even so, it’s a good idea to prune away the faded flowers for a tidier appearance and to help the plants conserve energy.
When you do this, cut away the entire stalk.
Leaves should stay in place until the end of the growing season.
At this time, cut them down to the ground and mulch for the winter.
Alternately, leave them in place until spring and then cut them back before your early springtime feeding and mulching.
Divide & Propagate: Every three or four years, and you will need to thin your lily plants.
Just lift the clumps of bulbs and divide them.
Replant new bulbs in a new setting, in containers or simply share them with your friends.
Remember lilies only produce one blossom per plant per season, so if you want to be able to cut flowers, you may wish to set up a separate garden in an out-of-the-way place as a cut flower garden.
You will change these bulbs out every year.
When you’re dividing your lily bulbs, you may wish to take the opportunity to establish one garden for cutting and another as an ornamental outdoor garden.
If you are cutting flowers from your regular, ornamental lily bed, be sure not to remove more than one-third of the stem.
Doing so can cause damage to your plant and may even shorten its life.