by Christine Freeburn, Master Gardener
One of the most spectacular blooming flowers in the garden are from the genus Lilium. The large 6-petalled trumpet flowers stand on upright herbaceous stems. The fragrance emitted from some can perfume the entire neighbourhood. Lilies form from bulbs that have scaly layers and depending on the variety can bloom in your garden for a short period from June or into the summer months.
There are hundreds of species and varieties, and more being hybridized each year. There are basically 9 different types described by the North American Lily Society. They include hybrids like Asiatic, Oriental, Longiflorum, Trumpet, Martagon, Candidum, American and Interdivisional as well as Species. Most are perennial in our zone, some are fragrant.
Lilies prefer full sun and need well drained soil to grow well. Lilies are toxic to cats. Many lilies from the Asiatic, Oriental, Trumpet and Martagon families are susceptible to attack from Asian Lily Beetle.
Check out a previous article written by PMG Mary Jane Parker on Falling In Love With Lilies
Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum)
• Forced in greenhouses for bloom at Easter
• 2 to 3 feet tall with a slight fragrance
• Will take full sun or part shade in your garden
• If planted in your garden, should overwinter and bloom the next summer, but be patient as it has had stress put on it from being forced
Asiatic Lilies (Lilium auratum)
• Look like small artichokes as they emerge in spring
• Long slender glossy leaves
• Varieties may grow from 1 to 6 feet tall
• Many colours available, no fragrance
• Easy to grow, bulbs multiply quickly, very popular
Oriental Lilies (Lilium orientalis)
• Pointy tips emerge from ground in spring
• Leaves are broader, slightly heart shaped and farther apart on stem
• Usually bloom in June with very fragrant flowers
• Slower to multiply than Asiatic
• Most popular of all lilies
• Popular varieties include “Stargazer” and “Casablanca”
Trumpet Lilies (Lilium aurelian)
• Tend to bloom earlier than Oriental and after Asiatic
• Fragrant multiple blooms on each stem
• Some varieties can grow up to 8′ tall
• Popular varieties include “African Queen”
Martagon Lilies (Lilium martagon)
• Known as Turk’s Cap
• Has blooms which tend to face downward
• Likes moist, well drained soil in sun to part shade
• Native to North America and blooming mid to late summer
• Downward facing yellow flowers
• Sun to part shade and moist soil
• L. canadense and L. michiganense are two varieties grown in Ontario
• Also know as “Orienpet”
• Cross between Oriental and Trumpet
• Lots of hybridized types available
• Easier to grow varieties
Madonna Lilies (Candidum)
• Similar to Easter lily, but susceptible to viral disease
• Bulb is planted near surface, not like other lily bulbs
• Difficult to find to purchase
There are many plants with “lily” in the common name that are not related to those mentioned above. Always look at the Latin name to determine what family plants belong to.
Daylilies (Hemerocallis) are a beautiful low maintenance perennial which grow in clumps.
Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) is an invasive perennial! Do not plant, grow or share!
Toad Lily (Tricyrtis hirta) is perennial , 2′-3′ tall, likes partial to full shade and moist loamy soil.
Trout Lily (Eryyhronium americanum) is a yellow wildflower with mottled purple lance shaped leaves found in forests
Canna Lilies (Canna) are a tender perennial with rhizomes that need to be lifted in fall and stored over winter
And there are the houseplants Calla Lily (Zantedeshia) which likes moist soil and grows from rhizomes and the Peace Lily (Spathiphyllum) which is related to but not the same as calla lily.