Lily Flowers: Will the Real Lily Please Stand Up?

By George and Becky Lohmiller
February 4, 2009
Pink Lily

Lily flowers are magnificent plants that command attention wherever they are planted. Add some majesty to your garden with Asiatic or Oriental Lilies.

Lilies are equally at home in both formal and naturalistic settings, and most take readily to containers. With 8,000 or so varieties, lilies parade an endless range of colors, shapes, and heights. By carefully blending early, mid-season, and late varieties into your garden, you will enjoy their bewitching blooms and seductive scents from spring until frost.

Types of Lilies

True lilies belong to the genus Lilium and grow from plump, scaly bulbs. Of the nine divisions of classification, Asiatic and Oriental are the most popular with gardeners.

  • Asiatic lilies are the earliest to bloom and the easiest to grow. Hybrids come in pure white, pinks, vivid yellows, oranges, and reds; heights are from one to six feet. Intense breeding has erased much of the Asiatics’ fragrance, but in spite of their lack of perfume, they are a favorite with floral arrangers.
  • Oriental hybrids bloom in mid- to late summer, just when Asiatic lilies are beginning to fade. From tiny two-footers to towering eight-foot-tall giants, Orientals are always a striking choice (the shorter ones are great for patio beds or container gardens). Adored for their intoxicating fragrance that intensifies after dark, Oriental lilies produce masses of huge white, pink, red, or bi-color blooms. They make wonderful cut flowers that will fill even the largest of rooms with their spicy scents.

Growing Lilies

  • For dependable blooms, lilies need six to eight hours of sunshine a day, yet they prosper in the presence of other low plants that protect their roots from drying out.
  • In the fall, plant lilies three times as deep as the bulbs are high. The deep planting encourages the developing stem to send out roots to help stabilize the plant and perhaps eliminate the need for staking. Water trapped beneath the scales may rot the bulb, so a well-drained site is essential.

What’s in a Name?

The name “lily” can be misleading because lots of other plants use it besides true lilies. Daylilies and water lilies aren’t lilies at all, and neither are lilies-of-the-valley or lilyturf.

With so many other plants using the name “lily,” it’s apparent that identity theft must have been around long before the use of computers and credit cards.


Reader Comments

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The Editors's picture

For planting and growing tips, please see our Growing Guide for Lilies!

cutting down lilies in the fall

How do I trim my lilies back in the fall for new spring flowers?

fall care for lilies

The Editors's picture

Hi, Brenda. Leave the foliage alone until it turns brown. This is important so that the plant stores energy for next year’s flowering. Cut down the dead stalks in late fall. Apply a high-potassium liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks from early spring until 6 weeks after flowering. Divide plants every 3 to 4 years as new growth begins in the spring. Just lift them and divide into clumps. Replant using compost and bonemeal.


I have seeds of lillys. How do i grow them?

potted lilys

Can I transplant potted lily's in my garden after they have bloom and the flowers gone ?

how to grow potted lilys

was given two potted lilys want to plant them

Potted Lilly

My potted Lilly has bloomed, and is loosing peddles, so do I wait now till they completely die off to separate ,or separate now before there dry?? It's only june??4 in the pot.

lilies asiatic and day lilies

lilies have bloomed -- when can l divide the daylilies also transplant the asiatic lilies - ?

potted lilies

I also need to know the answer of when to repot lilies into the ground after blooming, and now leaves are falling off. Do I cut back the stem or does it die, then I plant the bulb?

Potted lilies

How do I move potted lilies to garden?

Peace Lily not blooming

I received a peace lily in July 2014 in full bloom. Growing and looking good but has not bloomed since. HELP?

peace lily particulars

The Editors's picture

Hi, Sarah, You can find more about the Peace Lily here

You’ll see that the name is the same but the conditions are different. Briefly, the Peace Lily likes indirect light, a steady temperature, and controlled moisture. Be sure to read the questions and answers/comments from people at the bottom of the page (above), too.

We hope this helps!


I want to plant some grown lilies in a bunch in a large 1/2 barrel tub.Is that possible?

Planting Lillies

The Editors's picture

Yes, they should be fine in a half barrel for a year or two, but ultimately they will need more room. At that point, you can divide them: Dig them up and transplant some into the garden and leave some in the barrel.


Lillie's (proper :)

Could you please tell me how tall Lillies grow ? I love these flowers and decided to grow some in my garden. I only planted 2 bulbs about 4 yrs ago. They have grown beautiful. Last year the flower pots increased, I had 3 on each stem plus I had extra 2 stems I took that as they multiply ? This year the stems are approx 4 and half feet. And the 4 stems have changed 2 stems are a purple/ red flower and the other 2 stems are white. We have had 7 pods on each stem and when the pods have opened they are huge flowers. I am really happy with my reall Lillie's :)

How Tall Are Lilies

The Editors's picture

Wow, your lilies sound lovely! We hope they continue to grow this beautifully for many years to come. The height of your lilies depends on their variety and the conditions of their environment, but we would expect them not to exceed 6 feet. They might grow a bit more than the 4 ½-foot height of this year, but probably not much more.


I bought some lilys there are in flower but they are coverd in black fly what can I do to get rid of them please

Do you trim lilies

I recently planted some lilies which grew beautifully and have been trying to figure out if you trim the ones that have died and fallen off? I saw a YouTube video that said to trim them at the stem but now they look so naked and bare!! Will they produce more lilies or did I mess them up? Also, how frequently should I water them and what kind of food do they love? I've also started a very beautiful sweet potato plant, it's growing really big and fast but some of the leaves dry out, why would this be and what should I feed my beautiful plant? I water it every other day for now

Lilies do not rebloom, but

The Editors's picture

Lilies do not rebloom this season, but you should remove the faded flowers so that the plants don’t waste energy making seeds. Leave the foliage until it turns brown in the fall. This is important so that the plant stores energy for next year’s flowering. Cut down the dead stalks in the late fall or early spring. In active growth, water freely especially if rainfall is less than 1 inch per week. Apply a high-potassium liquid fertilizer every 2 weeks from early spring until 6 weeks after flowering. Divide plants every 3 to 4 years as new growth begins in the spring. Just lift them and divide into clumps. Replant using compost and bonemeal.

Lily seeds

I have tons pod seeds from many kinds of lilies, some are black hard round bumpy seeds, some are paper thin brownish seeds. They come from seed pods after my lilies bloom, my question is how do I grow new lilies from these seeds? I have tried with no luck and have been saving all these seeds for years now...I love my lily garden and want to try to grow then from the seeds

You can grow the seeds

The Editors's picture

You can grow the seeds outdoors by planting them in light soil in the spring. You can also grow them indoors in pots. Plant them anytime in good potting soil that drains well. As soon as the seeds germinate place the pots in full sun. When the weather has warmed the outdoor soil you can plant the seedling outdoors. Be aware that it may take several years before these lilies bloom.

There is a YouTube video on

There is a YouTube video on how to do this that seems to be the easiest and most effective way (the link is at the bottom). I've tried to get my few seed to grow but wasted them before I had the chance to see the video I'm telling you about. And for some reason finding seeds is hard! Only people selling bulbs and I don't want the bulbs I just want seeds because there is something in the birth of a flower from seed that I feel is full circle than just planting a bulb, but that's me. What I wouldn't do for some of your seeds! Hope the video helps you grow some of the seeds you have collected. Take care.

Here is the link for planting seeds (also the lady has more videos helpful to the harvesting and growing of lilies from seed.)

How long of a dormant period and how cold

I live in florida and want to plant some Asiatic Lillies. How cold and for how long should the dormant period be? Can I put them in an air tight bag in the frig?

Lilies in Florida

The Editors's picture

We looked up some information from local sources for advice, Deborah.

This article suggests that lilies can make it in Florida:

This one proposes lilies and lily-like plants:

Here are a few more ideas:

About storing bulbs in bags … You don’t want to make the bag airtight; even in dormancy, bulbs are livingi things. Storage in peat moss, in a box or even paper bag (depending on how many you have), provides are more natural environment.

We hope this helps!


when to transplant day lilies

when to transplant day lilies in April 2013?

A clump of daylilies can be

The Editors's picture

A clump of daylilies can be moved early in the spring and continue to bloom that year. They can also be moved anytime during the growing season.