It can be confusing to know what is technically a true lily, and what isn’t. Other species of flower are often referred to as a lily by their common name, but they have no relationship to plants which are from the Lilium family. Peace lilies, daylilies, and water lilies are just a few of these.
True lilies are flowering plants that grow from bulbs, and every flower produced is usually larger compared to the rest of the plant. Most come from the Northern Hemisphere, though some hail from the northern subtropics.
There’s a lily for every garden. They come in a wide variety of sizes, ranging from 1-8 feet, and come in pretty much every color you can think of.
Like roses, they’ve been bred for centuries, and lilies are among the earliest cultivated plants.
The endless uses for this captivating plant, including food, medicine, and their huge ornamental value, has meant that lilies have been a bedrock in culture since ancient times. You’ll find them in countless paintings, ceramics, and other art forms across the ages, representing different things to different peoples.
Lilies can be grown from existing bulbs, nodules, scales, or seeds. You can also divide rhizomes and bulbs of existing plants to replant elsewhere in your garden, in spring or autumn.
All lilies can be grown in containers, borders, and beneath trees, but they need full sun in order to get the best out of them.
Lilies produce flowers from May until September, depending on the variety you choose, and the weather you’ve had. If you’re clever with which ones you choose, you can have beds full of flowers for most of the summer, planting early lilies with ones that bloom later.
They also don’t require deadheading, as this doesn’t promote any new flowers. You can choose to cut them back if you want it to look tidier, but the general practice is to leave the foliage to die back into the bulb.
You can recognize most lilies by their stiff, upright stems. The foliage is either spear or lance-shaped, and the amount of leaves depends on the variety. Blooms grow at the very end of the stems, and can include stripes, spots, or blotches of different colors.
Flowers come in all shapes, from bells, bowls, cups, funnels, trumpets, and even flat lilies. Some types are extremely fragrant, and others have no scent at all.
Lilies are grown as a starchy root vegetable in places, but this depends on the type, so please don’t look for a snack in your garden unless you’re absolutely sure it will not kill you.
All sorts of animals eat lily bulbs, so you’ll need to plant them fairly deep. They also attract a wealth of pollinators into your garden, diversifying the wildlife and encouraging more beneficial insects into your garden.
Lilies are toxic to pets, so keep them out of reach and temptation. Despite their beautiful appearance, which can seem delicate, they aren’t as susceptible to disease and pests like other plants.
You’ll still need to watch out for gray mold, red lily beetles, slugs and snails, and viruses that aphids carry.
Because lilies have been hybridized so much over time, the North American Lily Society and the Royal Horticultural Society helped develop a system for categorizing lilies into nine divisions, all of which are covered in this article.
Division 1: Asiatic Hybrids
Asiatic lilies are one of the most popular types of lilies, as they’re easy to care for. While they’re mostly an unscented type, these flowers are gorgeous and come in pretty much every color you can imagine.
These large flowers typically get as big as 4 to 6 inches high on the top of stems ranging from 1 to 5 feet high.
Most will bloom in May or June, and some flower later into July.
L. ‘Apricot Fudge’
This lily is different from most Asiatic lilies, as it produces unusual semi-double flowers which look like roses, in a caramel-apricot shade. This lily flowers from June to July, and reaches about 2.5 feet tall.
L. ‘Big Bang’
Covered in an array of purple speckles on a white flower which looks like stardust, this flower faces outward, and cool weather or shade causes pink and cream to form on the tips of the petals. The plant reaches 4 feet tall, and flowers in late June.
L. ‘Black Spider’
This lily produces creamy-white flowers which have black hearts, and burgundy spots. It’s also a plant which produces flowers in abundance, around 5-7 flowers per stem, guaranteeing a fantastic tropical display in your garden! It grows up to 3 feet tall, and needs a lot of moisture.
L. ‘Bright Diamond’
If you’re after large, gleaming pure-white lilies, you can’t go wrong with this variety. It blooms during early to mid-summer, and reaches around 3 feet tall. It also boasts a very strong fragrance, so plant it near seating areas to fully appreciate all this plant has to offer.
Depending on the temperature, the light, and the age of the flower, these lilies can be a pastel yellow or white with purple stripes in the middle of the petals. It reaches a maximum of 4 feet tall, and doesn’t mind partial shade, but prefers full sun.
A white lily with purple brush-stroke markings in the center of each petal, this plant lies both full sun and light shade. It does need moist soil that drains freely, so the bulbs won’t rot. Once the plant matures, it can spread up to 1.5 feet wide, so give it plenty of room!
If you want a lily that’s particularly good at naturalizing (a plant that’s good at establishing itself and reproducing well in an environment it’s not native to) Citronella is a great option. It produces large, golden flowers with brown speckles, and the petals recurve at the ends. Mature citronella bulbs can even produce up to 20 blossoms per stem!
L. ‘Connecticut King’
If you want to brighten up your garden, a deep yellow lily will do the trick. ‘Connecticut King’ grows up to 3.5 feet high, and will create a true, sunshine yellow showstopper in summer.
Perhaps yellow lilies aren’t your thing. Maybe you like rich, dark, purplish-red lilies, and in that case, ‘Dimension’ is for you. This plant can reach an impressive 4.5 feet tall, and each bloom can reach up to 12 inches. Lovely. For a special display, pair very light and very dark lilies together to get the best out of both.
For a touch of Halloween all year round, or a really bright tropical look (depending on what you associate with color), ‘Enchantment’ is an apt name for a truly visible lily. These deep orange blooms are one of the most popular hybrids, and the North American Lily Society declared it the Hall of Fame winner.
L. ‘Fire King’
Not to be confused with the daylily of the same name, this Asiatic lily flowers a deep orange, with purple spots, and the petals recurve at the edges. It was created by Stooke in 1933, and features a light scent. Multiple flowers can form on the same stem, adding a wealth of color anywhere you choose to plant it.
L. ‘Forever Susan’
A very unusual bicolor combination of dark purple and orange, this lily will steal the show from anywhere you choose to plant it. It’s also a very popular cut flower as it has very strong stems, allowing the flower to live a little longer.
This beautiful merlot-red lily with burnt-orange anthers grows to a maximum height of 4 feet. Like most lilies, it needs full sun and well-drained soil in order to produce the most flowers possible. Unfortunately, it’s not scented, but no one’s perfect.
A dwarf variety, this plant produces fiery red blooms with orange throats, and clusters of them appear on a single stem that reaches about 30cm tall. Plant ‘Matrix’ at the front of your borders or in containers in freely-draining soil where the sun will reach the flowers.
L. ‘Ocean Breeze’
If you’d prefer a more subtle color which is no less beautiful than the others on this list, ‘Ocean Breeze’ is a good choice. It features light pink flowers which have a spray of deep pink on the petals, and reaches a maximum height of 3 feet tall. It was bred by Johan Mak, in 1999.
L. ‘Pup Art’
A bright red lily with burgundy centers that look like someone has painted them, this bi-color bloom is perfect for cut flowers. It reaches 3 feet tall, and requires full sun or partial shade in order to thrive.
L. ‘Push Off’
Adding a flair of dark and light to any border, these big creamy-white flowers with burgundy hearts are loved by pollinators. If you want to grow this lily in a pot, you’ll need to repot it every 2-3 years, to allow the new growth some room, and to replenish the soil’s nutrients.
L. ‘Red Velvet’
Another lily to make it into the North American Lily Society’s Hall of Fame, ‘Red Velvet’ has been around for over 50 years, and it’s not hard to see why. Featuring bright red flowers and petals that curl towards the back of the plant, this lily grows to 3 feet high.
L. ‘Rosella’s Dream’
This gorgeous lily features cream petals which are highlighted in a cherry pink around the edges. These blooms last up to 4 weeks long, providing your garden with spectacular color. To add a dreamy feel to your garden, plant this lily in groups of 3, or 6 to create a compact display.
L. ‘Royal Kiss’
If ‘Mascara’ wasn’t a dark enough shade for you, ‘Royal Kiss’ will do the trick. It’s a lily perfect for pots, with blooms of velvety black which are darker at the center. It can reach between 4-6 feet high, making for a captivating display.
L. ‘Royal Sunset’
True to its name, this lily invokes a scene of a dreamy beach at sundown, with blooms featuring orange petals, yellow centers, and pink edges. It does have a light fragrance, so plant it within reach in order to enjoy this lily’s scent.
A tall, slender lily, this plant produces blooms that give the illusion that the plant is bleeding. Red stripes run through the midrib of each of the yellow petals. To truly see the color of this lily shine, soak this plant in as much full sun as you can give it.
Reaching up to 4 feet tall, this spectacular lily features white blooms which have colored centers. Depending on where you live, and how much light you give ‘Tinos’, the centers can be orange, if you live somewhere hot and sunny. If you live somewhere cooler or shadier, the flowers will be a deep red in the middle.
L. ‘Tiny Todd’
Designed originally for containers, ‘Tiny Todd’ is a dwarf variety that also likes borders and even living in rock gardens. It produces huge white flowers which have a pale pink flush, and they have a slight fragrance. Avoid letting the soil dry out, as this lily likes a lot of moisture in well-draining soil.
L. ‘Tribal Kiss’
These lovely lilies grow upright blooms of white with bursts of burgundy in the center of each petal, and have very strong stems. It reaches a maximum height of 3 feet.
L. ‘White Butterflies’
‘White Butterflies’ is a good option if you want white flowers with a hint of pink. The green throats give this lily an extra dimension, something you wouldn’t necessarily notice at first glance. It can reach up to 4 feet tall, and forms new clumps of lilies as it gets older.
Division 2: Martagon Hybrids
Also referred to as “martagons hansonii hybrids”, or “Turk’s Cap Lilies”, have much smaller flowers than Asiatic lilies. The flowers all point toward the ground, and have an unpleasant scent, so don’t plant them near where you’re going to be sitting!
They bloom at the beginning of summer, and need at least partial shade to thrive. Petals curl backward and point toward the back of the plant or the sky.
You’ll need to plant them in autumn, somewhere in your garden which is sheltered, and drains freely. They are plants that hate being moved once they’re in the ground, so choose their ‘forever spot’ in your garden before you plant them.
L. ‘Arabian Knight’
If you want a startling contrast in such a small flower, ‘Arabian Knight’ is a lovely choice. It grows to about 5 feet tall, and small pendant flowers which are brown and orange with red speckles. It needs part to full-shade, and somewhere where the soil drains well.
L. ‘Claude Shride’
Producing pillars of widely-spaced, small dark red flowers with yellow spots, this lily is perfect for adding interest to shady areas of your garden.
L. ‘Kalna Karalis’
This lily produces deep red flowers with brownish midribs, adding pops of intense color in shaded areas that other plants just won’t tolerate. The name translates from Latvian to “King of the Mountain”.
L. ‘Manitoba Fox’
If you’re after splashes of deep pink to brighten up a dark area, ‘Manitoba Fox’ is the lily for you. It was bred in Canada, by Eugene Fox, and can feature 30 flowers per stem! While martagon lilies can take up to a year to establish themselves properly, these are worth the wait.
L. ‘Mrs R.O. Backhouse’
Robert Ormston Backhouse introduced this variety in 1921, and named it after his wife. These flowers change color as they get older, adding another dimension to the display of color in your garden. These blooms open as a soft pink, and become golden-orange as they mature. The pink remains present in the reverse of the flower.
L. ‘Scarlet Morning’
A variety that strongly naturalizes once it is established, ‘Scarlet Morning’ is sure to add vibrancy to any shady part of your garden which needs a tropical touch. These blooms are tangerine at the center, becoming mahogany-red at the edges.
L. ‘Slate’s Morning’
This type features salmon pink flowers which have yellow ribs, and dark pink spots. It was registered as a variety in 2011, and will tolerate some morning sun. It provides any garden with spectacular displays during May and June.
L. ‘Terrace City’
Featuring golden yellow flowers with darker spots, and soft pink undersides, this gorgeous variety will grow up to 20 flowers on a single stem. It also attracts butterflies to the shadier parts of your garden, allowing for more color. This plant grows up to 4 feet tall.
This eye-catching variety grows up to 7 feet tall, and provides pops of pure white to illuminate the sunnier parts of your garden, producing a maximum of 40 flowers per stem.
Unlike most martagons, ‘Album’ needs full sun or partial shade to thrive and produce the most flowers possible. This makes it ideal for cutting gardens, where other plants suited for cut flowers want full sun. This variety has also won the Award of Garden Merit (AGM) from the Royal Horticultural Society, in 1993.
Division 3: Candidum Hybrids
Most Candidum Hybrids come from the Madonna Lily, Lilium candidum, which is one of the truest, oldest lilies, and features in many cultures in art and religion. Other hybrids have been cultivated from other European lilies.
You can recognize these hybrids by their funnel-shaped or cone-shaped blooms, which open up from 3 to 4 feet tall stems. They’re highly fragranced varieties.
It’s worth noting that lilies in this category are rarely bred for selling. This is a smaller division than the others.
* See Division 9 for Madonna Lily
L. ‘June Fragrance’
An earlier bloomer, ‘June Fragrance’ has creamy-white blooms which appear later on in spring. It’s a cross between Lilium candidum salonikae and Lilium monadelphum. Each bloom produces a strong fragrance.
Lilium x testaceum ‘Nankeen’
Discovered in 1836, this lily was believed to have been discovered growing in a German nursery, in a mixed bed of lily martagons. It produces yellow to pale orange flowers, and they appear from late spring. You’ll get a number of flowers, anywhere from 12-18 blooms.
Division 4: American Hybrids
This group consists of hybrids which have been created from American species of lilies, and though the blooms don’t produce any scent, they’re no less beautiful than the other types.
When they would flower in your garden depends on where you live, and what planting zone your area is part of. Planting zones make it easier to identify what would thrive in your garden, and when you would be better off choosing a different plant for your space.
In warmer zones, these lilies will produce flowers as early as late spring, through until the beginning of summer.
In cooler areas, these lilies bloom during mid-summer.
You can recognize these American hybrids by the way the blooms point to the floor, and are either funnel-shaped, or shaped like a martagon where the flower resembles a “Turk’s cap”.
Stems in this category tend to be taller than some others, anywhere between 4 and 8 feet tall.
L. Canadense/ Canada Lily
Native to the Eastern parts of North America, this lily is naturally found in moist woodland, wet meadows, marshes, at the side of streams, and damp roadsides. It grows anywhere between 1 and 4 feet high, depending on the conditions. It flowers in June until July, and produces blooms that point downward, usually yellow with maroon spots.
L. Catesbaei/ Catesby’s Lily
The Catesby’s Lily grows in hot and wet acidic soil where most lilies won’t tolerate. It’s native to Florida, and the coastal areas in the American Southeast. It produces only a single flower, during summer and autumn, and has wide-spaced petals which are reddish-orange with yellow, and speckled with mahogany.
L. Columbianum/ Columbia Lily
The Columbia lily has a hint of fragrance, and can be found in damp soil in the shade of woodland in Western North America. Confusingly, it also shares the name tiger lily with a few other lilies, so it helps to have the Latin name. It produces flowers anywhere in June through until the start of August, and blooms are orange with dark red spots.
L. Grayi/ Gray’s Lily
Also known as the orange bell lily or the Roan lily, this beautiful plant was discovered in the Appalachian mountains, by Asa Gray in 1840, an American botanist. It wasn’t until he made another trip in 1879 that the lily was classified as a different species.
Gray’s lily needs acidic soil and full sun near forest meadows and summits. It’s considered at risk from loss of habit, illegal collecting, and fungal disease.
L. Humboldtii/ Humboldt’s Lily
Named after the explorer Alexander von Humboldt, this lily is naturally found in California, growing at elevations from 2000 to 3900 feet. The plant can reach a massive 8 feet tall, and blooms are golden-orange with red spots, and appear in June.
L. Kelloggii/ Kellogg’s Lily
Pollinated by swallowtail butterflies, this lily grows in the forests of northern California and southern Oregon. Each stem produces up to 27 flowers, usually in a light pink with dark pink spots. The flowers point to the ground, and feature petals that curve toward the back of the plant.
L. Pardalinum/ Leopard Lily
Native to the damp eras of California, Oregon, and Baja California, the leopard lily grows to a maximum of 8.2 feet tall. Flowers appear in July, which are Turk’s-cap shaped, in a bright reddish orange with brown spots.
L. Occidentale/ Western Lily
A rare and endangered plant, the name ‘Occidentale’ translates as ‘westernmost’, and points to its native West Coast habitat. It grows in stagnant bogs, sandy cliffs, seaside spruce forests, and coastal prairies. This plant can produce up to 35 flowers, with strongly curved petals in a bright red, with maroon spots.
L. Washingtonianum/ Washington Lily
A very fragrant lily, this plant produces white flowers which gain a purple tinge as they age. The Washington lily is found in California and Oregon, and is named after Martha Washington, not Washington state. It grows in open woods and areas that have been recently burned or cleared.
Division 5: Longiflorum Hybrids
You might recognize this group, if you’re familiar with the Easter lily, which is forced to flower during spring. Naturally, they bloom in July or August with white trumpet-shaped flowers.
Like Hyacinths, if they’ve been bought as a seasonal gift, you can plant them outside, and they’ll bloom the following year. Like Clematis, Easter lilies need full sun for the flowers, but the roots need to be in a shady area.
These lilies are usually a hybrid of the Easter lily and other types, and can be grown from seed.
Lilies which are Longiflorum hybrids are generally grown in pots rather than in the ground, and are grown for producing cut flowers.
This lovely lily flowers in summer with yellow blooms that have a hint of green. They contrast well against the dark green foliage, and the stems reach 3 to 4 feet tall. It was bred by De Jong Lelies in 2001.
L. ‘Elegant Lady’
This plant grows to a maximum height of 3 feet, and features light pink flowers with a hint of purple and green. The flowers form in clusters, and make an excellent source of cut flowers, if you’re looking to fill your cut flower garden.
It also doesn’t have a lot of pests, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to watch out for slugs and aphids.
An eye-catching, mostly white lily with a deep rose pink center, this plant will add color to any area of your garden. This plant can grow to a maximum height of 6 feet, and each bloom carries a gorgeous fragrance.
L. ‘White Elegance’
This lily produces huge trumpet blossoms, which can get as big as 5 inches across! Blooms are white, with green tips, and appear in clusters of 4 to 8 per stem.
‘White Elegance’ can reach up to 3 feet tall, but the plant may benefit from being staked if it’s not in a very sheltered position. It does well both in containers and in the ground, and it’s a popular choice for cut flowers as it has a stunning fragrance.
It’s also believed to be the hardiest of its type, growing through hot and humid conditions where other lilies would rot. The foliage is dense enough to avoid being scorched by the sun.
L. ‘White Heaven’
If you live somewhere that suffers from heavy winters, and you want a lot of fragrance injected into your garden, ‘White Heaven’ is the lily for you. The flowers themselves can grow up to 20cm in diameter, and are white with a splash of green in their hearts. They’re hardy to temperatures around 5°F, so they won’t be troubled by frost.
Division 6: Trumpet and Aurelian Hybrids
This division includes a lot of Asiatic lilies which are trumpet-shaped, and hybrids of those. When a lily is an Aurelian hybrid, this means that a trumpet lily has one parent which is L. henryi, or Henry’s lily, which is a species that grows naturally in China.
These lilies are usually very strongly scented, which can mean they’re unsuitable for cut flowers if you or someone you’re thinking of has a sensitivity to them.
Lilies in division 6 bloom in late summer, and it is possible to have lilies year round in your garden if you choose a few different types carefully and plant them together.
Trumpet lilies are less hardy than other types, so you can provide some protection by mulching them, and the lilies will need staking in summer to provide some support.
L. ‘African Queen’
An award winner, this beautiful lily features bright orange blooms which have burgundy undersides, and grows anywhere from 4 to 6 feet in height. Each stem produces between 15 and 20 blossoms, adding a tropical aesthetic to any garden.
L. ‘Beijing Moon’
An Aurelian hybrid lily, this plant can reach as high as 6 feet, and produces trumpet-shaped pink and white flowers, which have a strong perfume.
L. ‘Copper Crown’
This beautiful plant has long, bronze buds which open out into light orange blooms, with an abundance of fragrance. Plant this lily where you will walk past frequently, or where you sit in the garden, in order to get the best from it.
‘Copper Crown’ can grow up to 5 feet tall, and it will need mulching to protect it from frost. It’s a small price to pay for a captivating display.
Bearing flared golden-yellow trumpets, ‘Goldsmith’ is a feast for the eyes, and goes particularly well against dark foliage or dark flowers as a contrast. It’s a good cut flower. In order to thrive, this plant needs full sun.
L. ‘Madame Butterfly’
Bred by Johan Mak, this lily is a Lilium henryi hybrid, where the blooms add real drama to any display. The white petals curve backward, and feature an orange throat. They also have raised “whiskers” at the center. It flowers from late July into August, and can grow taller than 5 feet.
This plant blooms deep burgundy to dark purple flowers, which get even darker at the edges. It contrasts well to the golden anthers, adding another dimension to this beautiful flower.
If you want the color to be even darker, keep it in colder weather, and cool night temperatures also intensifies the color. It grows anywhere from 4 to 6 feet high, and blooms in July.
‘Moonlight’ produces huge yellow trumpets which have a heavy fragrance. The stems look tiny compared to the blooms they support in mid-summer, and the undersides of the petals are green.
L. ‘Orange Planet’
An upright form, this plant adds a great display of orange and pink drama to any border. They flower from July into August, and each bloom starts out as a pumpkin orange, fading to a light blush orange as it gets older.
L. ‘Pink Perfection’
If you’ve been reading through this article, and none of the lilies previously mentioned are as high as you want, ‘Pink Perfection’ is perfect for you. Each stem can reach up to 8 feet tall, producing light plum to pinkish flowers and golden anthers.
They’ll hold their own in really tall displays in your garden. For a more tropical feel, pair them with plants with huge foliage to add to your garden paradise.
L. ‘Summer Palace’
‘Summer Palace’ provides a tower of color and interest to any garden. The blooms are heavily scented, and open in varying shades of pink. Partial shade or cooler weather brings out the intensity of the color, and this lily will produce flowers from midsummer until very early autumn.
L. ‘Starry Night’
While it vaguely resembles ‘Madame Butterfly’, and shares a similar parent plant, this beautiful plant flowers nearly a month later, and is one of the latest-flowering lilies you can get.
Large white flowers which feature rays of sunshine yellow curve toward the back of the plant, and they appear from late August into September.
If you want a plant that will flower later into Summer, but will also be hardy, and will reliably produce clumps of bulbs, ‘Starry Night’ is for you.
L. ‘White Henryi’
While it looks delicate and produces a candelabra of large white flowers with orange hearts, this lily is very easy to care for. It can reach heights of 7 feet tall, and it’s not hard to see why it made it into the lily Hall of Fame.
Division 7: Oriental Hybrids
Oriental lilies that make up this division are similar in color availability and shape to the Asiatic lilies, though the fragrance of the Oriental lilies far outshines the Asiatic lilies.
They’re often referred to as stargazers, which can cause confusion, as that’s the name of a single cultivar in this division. The name comes from the way the flowers face the sky, as if they were stargazing.
Most cultivars in this division want acidic soil. If your garden isn’t acidic, you can alter the pH by adding compost and leaf mold.
It’s generally easier to keep plants that like other types of soil than the one you have in pots, and that way you can start with the pH you need. It means that you don’t have to wait for the organic matter to break down, as the soil is already how you want it to be.
Oriental hybrids form flowers which are usually either bowl-shaped, or nearly flat. They grow on top of 2 to 8 feet tall stems, and hail from lilies native to East Asia.
Flowering in August, ‘Anastasia’ produces massive white flowers which have pink hearts. If you want a deeper pink, keep it in cooler conditions. The scent that these gorgeous flowers emit is spicy, and the plant itself grows from 4 to 6 feet tall.
L. ‘Bell Tower’
A beautiful flower that points straight at the earth, you’ll be treated to a dramatic display of white with pink peeking through at the heart of each flower. This one flowers earlier, in mid to late July, and grows to 3 to 5 feet in height.
L. ‘Casa Blanca’
One of the oldest hybrid oriental lilies you can get, ‘Casa Blanca’ is a classic, admired for its huge white blooms. It produces a heavy fragrance, and is happy in full sun or partial shade.
Because of the color, it’s a popular choice for wedding flowers. It also received a Garden Merit Award from the Royal Horticultural Society, so it really is a special lily.
Featuring huge white blooms with pinky-red stripes and spots, the name ‘Dizzy’ is certainly fitting, as your eyes won’t know where to turn when a group of these plants flower!
It’s a hardy lily that’s not fussy about the pH of your soil, but it will need some mulching in winter to keep it healthy and protected during the colder months.
L. ‘Exotic Sun’
A very new cultivar, this unique lily forms double yellow flowers which are highly scented. The petals curve toward the back of the plant, and the yellow gets deeper at the heart of the flower. If you’re after a truly unique look, ‘Exotic Sun’ is the lily for your garden.
‘Josephine’ produces a lovely fragrance that’s prized in cut flowers, and features blooms which attract a myriad of pollinators. The flowers are a light pink, and feature a bright yellow heart that will brighten up any container or border.
Producing beautiful soft yellow blooms in mid to late July, ‘Limoncello’ has huge purplish anthers, which contrast well against the varying yellows in the flower.
The stems can range from 3 to 5 feet tall, but they can get even larger as the plant matures. Pop ‘Limoncello’ into any area of your garden that needs a fresh yellow twist.
L. ‘Mona Lisa’
Like the artwork it was named after, ‘Mona Lisa’ has a certain je ne sais quoi about it. This lily produces huge flowers that face the sky, on top of stems that don’t reach 2 feet high, adding a different element of interest into your garden or pots.
The blooms are a gentle but deep pink which turn white at the edges, featuring a deeper midrib and matching darker spots.
L. ‘Mount Cook’
Not to be confused with the ranunculus of the same name, ‘Mount Cook’ is a captivating lily, bearing deep pink flowers with yellow throats that have a green tint. This lily will reach a maximum height of 4 feet, and prefers full sun for the flowers, and shade for the roots.
It also benefits from some protection from strong wind, and rich, freely-draining soil.
Slugs are a menace to ‘Mount Cook’, so either grow them next to alliums to deter them, or cover the surface of the soil with coarse sand.
One of the most popular lilies around, ‘Stargazer’ is a real showstopper, which produces large pink blooms with white edges, and red freckles all over the petals. You’ll be treated to a heavy fragrance for as long as this plant is in bloom.
It was only developed in the late 2000s, but that hasn’t stopped it from becoming a firm favorite cut flower and all-round provider of drama.
Division 8: Interdivisional/Other Hybrids
Division 8 includes all hybrids that are crossed from those belonging to other divisions. So, the parent plants belong to the other divisions, but the child plants don’t fit that category.
Examples include Longiflorum/Asiatic hybrids, Longiflorum/Oriental hybrids, Oriental/Asiatic hybrids, and Oriental/Trumpet hybrids (also known as Orienpets).
Hybrid lilies are created through a range of different methods, such as “cut-style pollinations”, and “embryo rescue”.
By creating new cultivars, it opens up a world of possibility for new colors, shapes, and fragrance. It also gives the species a chance to stave off disease. If one cultivar is wiped out by disease, others can be bred to be resistant.
An Orienpet lily, ‘Altari’ has a better resilience when it comes to disease, and is more tolerant of extreme temperatures or conditions. This lily has large flowers which feature a rich raspberry color, turning white at the edges.
Plant it near seating areas to enjoy the most of its rich fragrance. The flowers appear in late summer, atop 3 to 4 feet tall stems.
L. ‘Dancing Lady’
A cultivar created in the Netherlands by Mak Breeding, this lily produces light pink flowers which are bowl-shaped, appearing in July until August. It’s a cross between a Longiflorum lily and an Oriental.
A striking Oriental x Trumpet hybrid, this plant was also created by Mak Breeding in the Netherlands. These flowers feature a striking contrast between the plum hearts of the flowers, and the white edges. The flowers themselves can reach up to 22cm.
L. ‘Fiery Belles’
If you want a truly fiery display of lilies in your garden, this is the variety for you. Each bloom features a stunning blaze of orange with red undertones, and is a result of a crossbreed of Asiatic and Aurelian lilies, refined by Wilbert Ronalds in 1997. These colors almost seem to shimmer together, and will captivate your interest in any area of the garden.
L. ‘Fields of Gold’
“Fields of Gold” is a good choice for anyone who wants yellow lilies in their garden, but “Fiery Belles” is too strong for the place they have in mind. This lily grows up to 3 feet tall, but it’s worth mentioning that the flowers don’t produce pollen.
If you want more of ‘Fields of Gold’, you can get more by dividing your existing clumps.
A crossbreed of the Japanese Lilium longiflorum and the Northern Californian Lilium pardalinum, this plant produces bright red flowers (see also red flowering plants) with yellow hearts and black speckles. The blooms point toward the ground on sturdy stems.
An Orienpet lily, this plant produces pale pink flowers with peachy hearts, turning yellow at the edges of the petals. This variety is pretty tough, but no lily is immune to slugs or aphids, so keep a watchful eye out!
L. ‘Mister Cas’
Another Orienpet lily, ‘Mister Cas’ reaches up to 4 feet high, and features a strong, balmy fragrance. The flowers are creamy, turning into a ray of sunset yellow at the heart.
It’s a lily that grows fast, so if you want to inject some height and color into a bare patch in your garden, and you want it filled fast, ‘Mister Cas’ is for you.
It’s also a very good plant at naturalizing itself, so you’ll eventually get quite a few of them once they’re established.
This hybrid is simply captivating. It produces velvety dark red flowers that are very nearly black, and is a result of an Asiatic/Trumpet cross. It also makes an excellent cut flower.
L. ‘Pink Brilliant’
If you want a deeply sweet-scented lily, you can’t go wrong with this longiflorum/oriental cultivar. It produces pink and white flowers with green hearts, and reaches a maximum of 3.5 feet tall, allowing for color and interest at a higher level.
L. ‘Red Dutch’
A truly spectacular lily when planted into a large container, this orienpet hybrid reaches 4 feet high, and produces yellow petals with red centers and an orange glow. It also has a stunning fragrance, so placing it near where you walk past or at a seating area will mean you’ll get to appreciate the best this plant has to offer.
‘Scheherazade’ is an award-winning hybrid, which can grow to 6 feet high in its first year! It produces huge curly red petals, which have gold hearts and edges. The anthers are also a deep red to match.
It’s happy to grow in most conditions, and reach 8 feet tall once the bulbs are settled in the soil. It’s also a great choice for a gardener who hasn’t tried lilies before, and you’ll fall in love with their dramatic displays of color and fragrance.
L. ‘Silk Road’
Another part of the Hall of Fame, ‘Silk Road’ is a beautiful plant which produces huge white blooms and intensely dark-pink hearts, with a powerful scent to match.
This lily produces secondary buds to extend the flowering period, and you’ll be treated to a stunning display from mid-July to August.
L. ‘Viva la Vida’
Among the most dramatic lilies on this list, ‘Viva la Vida’ blooms with bright yellow flowers against burgundy middles, and black spots. They’re a flower which is impossible to miss, no matter how densely planted your garden might be.
L. ‘Yellow Power’
A hybrid of a longiflorum lily and an Asiatic lily, this variety was created in the Netherlands by the Lily Company.
It features golden yellow flowers, and the dark anthers create a different dimension to the blooms. To brighten up your garden, ‘Yellow Power’ will never fail.
Zeba prefers slightly acidic soil, and produces a creamy yellow flower with a red center. The flowers are large and point to the earth, and the plant prefers full sun, but it will also grow in partial shade.
This variety was formed when an oriental lily was crossed with Lilium nepalense.
Division 9: Species Lilies
Species lilies are literally “as we find them”. They’ve not been bred for certain characteristics, but exist exactly how nature has designed them. They’re wild lilies that aren’t hybridized.
Some are harder than others to find commercially, as some are quite rare, endangered, or protected. There are specialist nurseries and lily societies that can help you source a particular species.
It’s probable that there’s wild species that we haven’t discovered yet, and the possibilities of new hybrids or types of hybrids are endless.
L. Auratum/ Golden-rayed Lily
Originally from Japan, this lily features huge, sweetly-fragrant white flowers, with rays of yellow stripes and red speckles. It grows up to 5 feet tall, and injects brightness to any area of the garden.
L. Bulbiferum/ Orange Lily
No prizes for guessing the color of this lily! Flowers on the orange lily are a vivid sunset orange, which are brighter closer to the center. Unfortunately, this plant doesn’t produce any fragrance, but that doesn’t stop pollinators from visiting these gorgeous blooms. These plants naturally grow on sloped hillsides and meadows, and full sun brings out the best hues in these flowers.
The Madonna Lily
The Madonna Lily has been hybridized for at least 3,000 years, and comes from the Middle East and the Balkans, although it’s naturalized well in other parts of the world where it has been introduced.
It needs shelter from the wind and rain, and like conditions to be on the dry side, with morning or full sun if possible. They reach anywhere from 4 to 6 feet tall. It likes woodland gardens to get the best out of this plant.
Unlike most lilies, The Madonna Lily needs to be planted just under the surface of the soil, rather than the deeper depth that other types of lilies prefer.
The stems this plant produces can get extremely tall, reaching heights up to 6 feet 7 inches, so plan ahead if you want this lily! The flowers are valued for their pure white appearance, and their yellow throats.
It’s been used in early Christian art, such as the painting of “The Madonna and Child with Saints”, dated to have been painted around 1515, as a symbol of a chaste life.
A Minoan fresco from the palace of Knossos, which was discovered in pieces in Crete, also included what’s believed to be the Madonna Lilies.
The painting is called the “Prince of the Lilies”, and depicts a figure with lilies. It dates back to the Bronze Age of the Minoan civilization.
L. Lancifolium/ Tiger Lily
Probably the most famous lily of all, the Tiger lily is prized for its ornamental value, with vivid orange petals that curl backwards, covered in dark brown freckles. It’s often planted as a focal point of interest, as it steals the show all on its own.
The Tiger lily comes from Far East Russia and Eastern Asia, and prefers full sun or partial shade, and reaches 3 to 5 feet tall.
L. Leichtlinii/ Leichtlin’s Lily
Another unique lily native to Japan, Leichtlin’s lily produces a dramatic display of yellow flowers with dark spots, and protruding stamens. It’s loved by a wide range of pollinators, and Japanese people use the lily in their cuisine.
L. Pumilum/ Coral Lily
A favorite of florists everywhere, the Coral lily provides an instant bouquet of tiny, scarlet-red pendant flowers, which almost resemble a chandelier. These special blooms point to the floor, their petals curving backward.
The Coral lily likes freely-draining soil, and will even be at home in a rock garden. It’s also used in traditional Mongolian medicine.
L. Regale/ Regal Lily
Also known as the Chinese lily, this is among the easiest white lilies to grow. The white flowers form in a trumpet-shape, and feature a hint of pink, as well as a heady fragrance that’s instantly recognizable.
The plant reaches 6 feet tall, and makes the perfect cut flower.
It also won the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society.
L. Speciosum var. rubrum/ Species Lily
Naturally found at elevations of 2,000 to 3,000 feet, this lily grows in Southern Japan and Southern China. It is also the bedrock species for the modern Oriental hybrids.
While this plant is a late bloomer, from August until September, the spectacular flowers are worth the wait. The flowers point to the earth, and feature vivid reds and pinks as a backdrop to the exaggerated dark stamens.
L. Superbum/ Turk’s Cap Lily
Native to woodland and wet meadows of central and eastern parts of North America, this is the original Turk’s Cap lily. In the right conditions, it can reach up to 7 feet tall. From there, delicate blooms of orangey-red petals stretch away from the stamen and toward the sky.