With colorful, star-shaped flowers, lilies add star power to summer gardens. These perennial beauties need a little extra fall care in areas with harsh winters. Learn more in our lily growing guide.
Lilies add graceful elegance and fragrance to any garden and bloom from early summer all the way to autumn, depending on the type. By carefully mixing early, mid-season and late varieties into your garden, you’ll enjoy their magnificent blooms from spring until the first frost. At home in both formal and naturalistic settings, most lilies also take to containers easily. Plus, they make fantastic cut flowers!
Lilies have six simple or strikingly marked petals (“petals”) and are often trumpet-shaped and sit atop a tall, upright stem with narrow, long, lance-shaped leaves. They come in many beautiful colors, including pink, gold, red, orange and white.
There are a number of popular lily species, including Orientals, Asiatics, Orientals and species. To create a sequence of lilies in your garden, keep in mind that Asians generally bloom first followed by Oriental varieties and then Oriental varieties.
Asiatic lilies (Lilium sp. – “Asiatic hybrids”) first bloom in early summer (usually May or June), right after peonies. They are not fussy as long as they are grown in well-drained soil. They are the shortest type of lilies (about 2 to 3 feet tall) and come in many colors, from pastels to tropicals. They don’t have much of a scent, but they add bright color to the garden.
Daffodils (Lilium longifolium) are most often grown indoors as a holiday plant. As their name suggests, they are usually forced to flower around Easter, in March or April. Outdoors, they are better suited to warmer regions of North America, where they can be planted in the garden after flowering has finished.
Oriental lilies (Lilium sp. – “Oriental hybrids”) have the famous strong fragrance. They are tall and stately (4 feet) and tend to grow more slowly, often blooming around the time the Asiatic lilies fade (mid to late summer).
Trumpet lilies (Lilium sp. – “Trumpet hybrids”) resemble oriental lilies and produce many flowers with a pleasant fragrance. Their flowers tend to be smaller and more closed (like a trumpet) than those of the other lilies.
There are other lilies out there, of course, like tiger lilies (Lilium henryi) and turkish lilies (Lilium superbum), as well as hybrids like “Orienpet” (oriental + trumpet) and “LA” lilies (Easter + Asiatic). Browse your favorite online gardening catalog to find what you like best!