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How to Plant, Grow, and Care for Lilies

With brightly colored, star-shaped blooms, lilies add star power to summer gardens. These perennial beauties need some extra fall care in areas with harsh winters. Find out more in our lily growing guide.

About lilies
Lilies add graceful elegance and fragrance to any garden and bloom from early summer to fall, depending on the species. By carefully mixing early, mid and late varieties into your garden, you will enjoy its magnificent blooms from spring until the first frost. Most lilies are at home in both formal and naturalistic settings and will happily accept containers as well. Plus, they make great cut flowers!

Lilies have six simple or prominently marked tepals (‘petals’) and are often trumpet-shaped, perched on a tall, erect stalk 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 types of lilies, including oriental, asiatic, oriental, and species types. To create a series of lily blooms in your garden, remember that Asians generally bloom first, followed by orientpets and then oriental varieties.

Asiatic lilies (Lilium sp. – “Asiatic hybrids”) flower first in early summer (usually May or June), right after peonies. They are not fussy as long as they grow in well-drained soil. They are the shortest species of lily (about 2 to 3 feet tall) and come in many colors, from pastel to tropical. They don’t have much fragrance, but they bring bright color to the garden.
Easter lilies (Lilium longifolium) are most commonly grown indoors as a holiday plant. As their name suggests, they are usually forced into bloom around Easter, in March or April. Outdoors, they are better suited to warmer regions of North America, where they can be transplanted into the garden after flowering.
Oriental lilies (Lilium sp. – “Oriental Hybrids”) have that famously strong scent. They are tall and stately (4 feet) and tend to be slower growers, often blooming around the time Asiatic lily flowers are wilting (mid to late summer).
Trumpet lilies (Lilium sp. – “trumpet hybrids”) resemble oriental lilies and produce many flowers with a beautiful fragrance. Their flowers tend to be smaller and more closed (like a trumpet) than those of the other lilies.
There are of course other lilies such as tiger lilies (Lilium henryi) and martagon lilies (Lilium superbum) as well as hybrids such as ‘Orienpet’ (Oriental + Trumpet) and ‘LA’ lilies (Easter + Asiatic). Browse through the catalog of your favorite online gardening supplies retailer to find what you like best!