February 4, 2009
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.
- 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.