How to preserve lily flowers?

Stargazer lilies in bloom.

Oriental lilies are renowned for their delightful perfume and flamboyantmid- to late-summer blooms. The crimson cultivar ‘Stargazer’ is a popular hybrid with large, showy flowers that make it a showstopper when in bloom. One of the most common Oriental lilies, and one of the easiest to grow, this reliable garden performer is hardy in zones 4-9.

The cultivar ‘Stargazer’ was a breakthrough in lily breeding when it was introduced by hybridizer Mr. Leslie Woodriff in the late 1970’s. The flowers of plants in the Oriental lily group tend to hang down, but this complex auratum-speciosum cross of unknown parentage was noteworthy because of its upward facing flowers, hence the name referencing looking at the heavens. There are now many other cultivars with upward-facing flowers, in a variety of colors.

Bulbs produce strong new stems each spring (L) that rarely need staking (R).

Like most true lilies (Lilium spp.), these herbaceous perennials die back to the ground in winter and send up a new stems from the bulb each spring. The upright plants can grow to 6 feet tall, although usually they remain much shorter (3-4 feet). They have strong stems and rarely need staking. The lance-shaped leaves alternate up the stems, with the lower ones often falling off as the plants grow taller. Remove the dying foliage in fall, cutting the stems off at ground level (or leaving some showing so you will know where they are in the spring before the new growth emerges).

The reflexed tepals are crimson edged with pink.

In mid-summer 4-12 flowers are produced on the end of each stem. This hybrid blooms earlier than many other Oriental lilies. The flowers of this hybrid are an elegant combination of pink, red and white with reflexed tips and long stamens with heavy orange anthers. The mainly crimson tepals (3 petals and 3 sepals which all look very similar) are edged in pink and spotted with darker red. The satiny flowers have a strong, pleasant fragrance, and make excellent cut flowers (and are heavily utilized by the florist trade). However, the orange pollen can stain clothing and skin, so if used as cut flowers it is advisable to cut off the anthers.

The orange pollen can stain skin and clothing. Anthers should be removed from cut flowers.

Once all the flowers on a stem have finished blooming, cut the stem just below the inflorescence, leaving a much foliage as possible, to make sure all the plant’s energy is directed back into the bulb rather than into forming seeds.

This lily is a superb addition to both formal and informal gardens, combined with roses and many other flowers. For the best effect, place them in groups of 3-5 (or more). Lilies do well grown with other low, shallow-rooted plants that help hide the sometimes bare lower stems and keep the roots cool. I like the combination of the purple spikes of Agastache with the pink lily flowers, but they also look very impressive rising from a bed of ferns or baby’s breath (Gypsophila), or combined with Phlox paniculata ‘Bright Eyes’ (light pink flowers with a dark pink eye) for a monochromatic color scheme. This hybrid can also be grown in containers and is fairly easy to force. The bulbs should be planted deeply in the container and overplanted with annuals.

Plant lilies in groups for best effect.

Stargazer’ is very easy to grow. It does best in full sun in the Midwest, but will tolerate partial shade. It thrives in almost any type of well-drained soil, including heavy clay. Plant bulbs in early spring or fall, or potted plants any time during the growing season. They need to be planted fairly deeply – about 6”for large bulbs. Mulching will help insulate the soil, allowing newly planted bulbs to continue growing their roots into late fall, and will also delay emergence of frost-tender shoots in spring. Established lily bulbs don’t need winter protection where snow cover is dependable, but a winter mulch – applied after the soil freezes – may be beneficial in more northern areas without reliable snow cover (I have never done this in my garden on the border between zones 4 and 5, and the ‘Stargazers’ have never suffered even in snowless years). This should be removed late in the spring. A light mulch of shredded leaves, compost or shredded bark will prevent weeds from germinating and will keep the roots cool during the growing season.

‘Stargazer lily and Agastache in bloom.

Fertilize lightly in early spring, if desired. This lily generally has few pests, although voles may feed on the bulbs, rabbits may nibble emerging shoots, aphids may infest the flowers, and deer sometimes find them appetizing.

Fall is the best time to move or divide clumps, when the bulbs go dormant. Handle the fleshy bulbs carefully, and replant at the same depth as soon as possible. Any smaller offset bulbs should be planted at a depth three times their height. This hybrid is easy to propagate from scales (many other oriental lilies can be difficult to propagate).

– Susan Mahr, University of Wisconsin – Madison

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Where To Plant Stargazer Lilies

Think about the old adage that pertains to planting any variety of lily and you’ll be able to select the right planting location for Stargazers.

The old adage states that lilies like their head in the sun and feet in shade.

That may seem like an impossibility, but it simply means select a full sun planting location for lilies, then cover the soil with a thick layer of organic mulch so the sun will never penetrate through to the shallow-growing bulbs.

Planting Stargazer lilies among low-growing ground cover or annuals will also keep their feet in the shade.

Be sure the other plants have the same soil/sun/ water requirements as the Stargazer Lillies when planting them together.

Planting Stargazer Lilies

Stargazer lilies need to be planted in the early spring or late fall.

Till soil to at least 8 inches deep and mix in some compost to improve soil drainage and provide nutrients for the lily bulbs.

Dig a 4 inch deep hole for each bulb.

Planting holes should be spaced 12 inches apart.

Place the bulbs in the hole with flat side facing down and pointed end facing upward.

Cover with soil, water in well, then add a layer of organic mulch, like straw.

Keep soil moist when lily bulbs are planted in the spring.

Stargazer plants can also be planted instead of bulbs.

For plants, prepare the soil in the same way, place plants 12 inches apart, back-fill planting hole, water in well and cover soil with organic mulch.

Stargazer Lilies Blooms

Five-petaled, star-shaped white blooms with red shooting ‘flames’ will appear in late summer and last until the first frost.

Stargazer Oriental Lilies

Plant care: Stargazer Oriental Lily from the Gold Medal winning Harts Nursery

  • Lilies can tolerate very cold conditions but they do not like to get wet.
  • If planting in borders in the garden, the soil must be well drained and, preferably, humus rich.
  • If planting in pots, make sure lilies are kept moist but do not get waterlogged.
  • Lilies prefer to be planted in a location with at least half a day’s full sunshine, if it’s a bit too shady they will lean their stems towards the sun.
  • Lily bulbs do not like to be dried out so they must be kept in soil at all times.
  • Try to plant your lilies where they will dry out after rain to prevent Botrytis, a fungus that spots the leaves. If you do see brown spots on your leaves, spray with a fungicide recommended for roses.
    If planting in pots, it may be an idea to tilt the pots on their side in the winter to prevent waterlog.
  • When the Lily has finished flowering, cut any seed heads back and allow the foliage to die back naturally. Do not be tempted to cut the stem back until stems becomes hollow and brown.
  • After a few years of flowering, you may find the Oriental Trumpets Lily produces less blooms, it may be time to lift your bulbs and divide them by breaking off the bulblets. All the bulbs will then need replanting.
  • To prevent Lily Beetles from damaging your lilies, we recommend using the Lily Beetle Prevention Spray. This Spray (Grazers G4) will also stimulate growth of your lilies.
  • You can feed your lilies with a Tomato Feed to stimulate and strengthen your lilies when you start to see signs of growth. Make up your tomato feed with half the recommended dilution (written on the instructions on the bottle) and feed once every 3 weeks.

Last Updated on February 24, 2019


Lily bulbs storage: Easily winterize lily bulbs over winter during the extreme winter cold and wet season. So, they remain healthy and grow beautifully the next spring.

Lily’s root is a rhizome. And bulbous in appearance. The plant is produced from a swollen underground storage organ known as a corm. However, is not a true bulb. Instead a tight, concentric ring of succulent scales. Consequently, attached at their lower end to a basal plate. However, for simplicity reasons, we refer to them as bulbs. The bulb is inserted into the ground to grow. And, should you decide dig up each bulb, marking their planting location is important.

The natural beauty of a blooming lily is a sight to behold during the spring, summer, and fall months. The most beloved and rewarding flowers to grow in your garden. And a variety of plant that should be winterized and protected. Especially in areas of extreme cold or wet conditions.

Storing lily bulbs over winter is easily accomplished. Following the proven methods below.

Freezing Lilies

Believe it or not, lilies can withstand periods of freezing temperatures. However, not below 25 degrees F. And no longer than two or three weeks.

Wet Conditions

Lily bulbs cannot withstand long periods of wet conditions. And, they will perish.

Lilies failing to emerge the following Spring? Your lily bulbs over winter were too wet. Equally, too wet in storage or the location where grown. Therefore, rotting the bulb. Garden soil or landscape soil normally will provide lily bulbs with natural drainage. Unless planted in a continually wet area.


Storing lily bulbs over winter in an area that remains extremely cold, simply cover with mulch. However, in a wet environment through out winter months, you will need to dig them every Fall. Or treat them as annuals. Additionally, purchasing new ones every year.

There are a few simple techniques for storing lily bulbs. Enjoying great success. Best practice is to begin the process of winterizing. And storing lily bulbs before winter. As a matter of fact, early fall or mid- September!

First: Cut the Stem

For bouquets or fading blooms, cut the the lily stem about three to four inches above the soil line. In addition, remove all leaves. Likewise, leave the stem as is. This forces the lily to provide added growth into the bulb. In addition, the plant will start growing new bulb-lets before winterizing.


Second: Grow

Let the bulb grow where it is until Fall.

  • Growing in a container: Make sure it is in afternoon shade. Likewise, keep the potting mix damp, not wet.
  • Raised Beds or Garden: Again, keep the soil or potting mix damp, not wet.
  • Fertilize: Use a low nitrogen, high mineral fertilizer at ground level. Our Power Grow Fall blend is best!
  • Let the stem turn brown or deteriorate.

Third: Removing the Bulb

Again, after cutting the stem, leave the bulb in the ground as long as possible. We lift our bulbs the first week of November. However, this may not be possible where you live.

Depending upon how deep your lily bulb is, use the appropriate tool to dig and lift your bulb. In addition, make sure your tool is far enough away from your bulb location, before digging. Most importantly, do not damage the bulb.

Start by gently placing the tool a couple of inches deep. Then, as you progress, check for the bulb with your hand. And, keep digging until locating the bulb.

Once the bulb has been located, gently soften the soil or potting mix around the bulb and roots. Preferably with your hands. Then, remove the bulb with as many roots as possible.

Fourth: Cleaning the Lily Bulb

Use a garden hose, at low pressure. And, wash off the bulb. Get as much soil or potting mix off as possible. Additionally, place the lily bulb where it can dry without burning the scales. Also, let the bulb dry, without washing it off. Then, use a soft brush for cleaning. I prefer washing with the garden hose, first.

Removing all of the visible clinging soil reduces the chance of bacterial infections. Therefore, damaging or destroying the bulb during storage. Also, it is a good idea to remove any damaged, old, or diseased scales. And once dry I recommend dusting or dipping with a fungicide. Like fixed copper or garden sulfur.


Remove Debris from Bulb

Removing all of the visible clinging soil reduces the likelihood of bacterial infections damaging or destroying the bulb during the storage months. It is also a good idea to remove any damaged, old or diseased scales at this time and once dry I recommend dusting with a fungicide.

Preparing and Storage

Small Quantities (<10)

Prepare a damp potting mixture for storing lily bulbs over winter. And one that allows good air circulation around the bulb and roots. Again, make sure it is damp, not wet. Do not use garden soil. With vent holes, in a plastic bag fill 1/2 full of your damp potting mix. Place the bulb(s) in the bag as close to upright as you can. Leave the top partially open.

Storing lily bulbs over winter should be in a cool place. Such as the vegetable bin in your refrigerator.

Large Quantities (>10)

When storing large quantities of lily bulbs over winter: use a large box with enough air vents for good circulation. Wood or plastic boxes work best. Prepare a damp potting mixture. And one that allows good air circulation around the bulb and roots. Again, make sure it is damp, not wet. Do not use garden soil.

Fill the box or container 1/2 full of damp potting mix. Place the bulbs upright. Fill remaining space with your damp potting mix. Also, when storing lily bulbs over winter, store in a cool place. Preferably indoors. Furthermore, when storing lily bulbs over winter outdoors in containers, cover the top with a piece of plywood. Secure the plywood to the box. Check often for adequate moisture. Do not allow the bulbs to freeze more than 14 days.

Open Top of Bag with Vent Hole

Crate Perfect for Storing Large Quantities of Lily BulbsWood Crates for Storing Lily Bulbs

Summary – Storing Lily Bulbs Over Winter

The majority of lilies are a pretty tough bunch. And able to cope with most of what the winter weather will throw at them.

However, they can be prone to rotting off in extreme, cold, and wet conditions. Especially the ornamental and orienpet varieties that originate from mountainous regions.

But with a little thought, and minimum of intervention, over wintering lilies is quite straight forward.

Provide Good Drainage

Planting lily bulbs into wet conditions. Equally, in an area prone to heavy rainfall over the winter period. Is not a very good idea. Instead, improve the drainage of the soil. Place and mix plenty of horticultural grit: Pumice, or perlite. Additionally, even placing small rocks below the bulb improves soil drainage.


It may even be worth creating a low mound or burm. Additionally, planting your bulbs into keeping them away from a high water table. Even consider protecting the area around the bulb by covering them with large cloche. Also, a makeshift plastic tent. And a thick layer of good autumn mulch such as straw. Likewise, grass clippings.


Storing lily bulbs over winter never really go dormant. And do best when out of the ground for as short a time as possible. If you have the space and weather, plant the bulbs right away.

Storing vs. Potting

Can’t plant right away? Plant them in pots or a small bucket. Again, use soil less potting mix. In addition, keep damp.

You can cram them in, bulb to bulb. You’re just trying to keep the roots fresh and growing. Store lily bulbs over winter in the basement, garage or any other cool location is best. Then plant when you can, afterwards. Similarly, spring.

How To Care For Bulbs & Perennials If You Can’t Plant Right Away

by Amanda

Although we ship according to ground temperatures and won’t send your spring order until it’s time to plant in your area, things happen, including (but not limited to) random snowstorms, impromptu vacations, rain and lack of motivation at the moment. And even though we want you to get your plants and bulbs in the ground as soon as possible, we know that’s not always the case. But have no fear – we’re here to help with instructions on how to care for your bulbs and perennials to keep them healthy before you can get them in the ground.

Even if you know you won’t be able to plant your bulbs and perennials for a few days, remember to take them out of the box and give them room to breathe. Storing them in the box could result in too much moisture and rot.

Storing Bulbs Before Planting In Spring

One of the basic rules of bulbs storage is to keep them dry and cool, which helps prevent bulbs from sprouting before you plant. How cold? Make sure your bulbs don’t freeze – This means if you’re still having freezing nights in your area, you won’t want to store them in an unheated garage or shed.

To prevent bulbs from getting too hot, make sure to keep them away from the furnace, out of bright sunlight, not on top of the refrigerator or any other place that can get hot in your home. Ideal storage places in the home include a basement, closet or utility room that stays cool but above freezing.

Lilies must be stored below 45 degrees, or they will probably sprout before planting. If they do, treat the sprouts gingerly. If you break them off, your bulbs won’t bloom.

Dahlias and Gladiolus can stand a bit higher temperatures. They should be stored anywhere between 40 and about 62 degrees; the lower the better.

Canna Lilies like to be stored around 50 degrees, and should never dry out.

Calla Lilies and Elephant Ears like it warmer, between 60 and 70 degrees.

If your bulbs sprout before you get the chance to plant, make sure to be very gentle as to not break or damage it.

The goal is to keep the bulbs from sprouting before putting them in the ground. However, if your bulbs do sprout, it’s not the end of the world. Simply be extra gentle with the sprouted bulbs, making sure not to damage or break off the sprout. That sprout is likely the bulb’s only chance at growth and producing a flower.

As soon as you’re able to plant, bring the bulbs outside and put them in the ground according to the growing instructions.

Storing Perennials Before Planting In Spring

As soon as you receive your perennials, open the box immediately, protect the plants from extreme cold, and water each potted plant. Some of your potted plants may have new green growth, some may not. If you see no leaves, don’t worry; this is normal. The roots in the pot are healthy and ready to grow in your garden.

Like bulbs, perennials should be stored in an area in the home that is cool, but not freezing, until you can put them in the ground. Keep your perennials where they get some sun through a window, and keep potted plants moist, not soggy. Leave bareroot plants in their packaging, but if they are dry, moisten.

As soon as you’re able to plant, bring the perennials outside and put them in the ground according to the growing instructions.

Growing Guide for Lilium or Lilies

About Lillies

Also known as liliums, lilies are tall perennials prized for their graceful blooms, which often feature an intoxicating fragrance. These summer-flowering beauties grow well as clusters in pots and beds. There are many types to choose from, including Oriental, Asiatic, Trumpet and Longiflorum, plus hybrids such as Longiflorum/Asiatic and Oriental/Trumpet.


Lilium is a genus in the family Liliaceae.

Note that there are many plants with the word ‘lily’ as part of their common name, and not all of these are ‘true lilies’ in botanical terms. For example, arum lilies are in the family Araceae, while belladonna lilies and Lily of the Nile (agapanthus) are in the family Amaryllidaceae. For this reason, many gardeners prefer the word ‘lilium’ for true lilies. The growing information here applies to true lilies or liliums.

  • Botanical Name – Lilium spp
  • Family Name – Liliaceae
  • Plant type – fleshy bulb
  • Flowering – summer
  • Size – 70 cm to 180cm depending on variety.

How To Grow Lilies

Climatic Zones for Liliums

Lilies grow in all climatic regions of Australia, from cool through to tropical. It is best to see the individual products for detailed climate information.

Lilium Climate Map

When To Plant Liliums

The ideal planting time for lilium bulbs is from winter into spring.

Where To Plant Liliums

The best positioning for most liliums is full sun to part shade. Oriental lilies prefer a cooler, more sheltered position, and may require protection from hot sun and hot winds. All taller varieties may need staking to support the stems, particularly in open areas where there is less protection from wind.

These plants work best in clumps or clusters and are happy alongside azaleas, camellias and smaller rhododendrons and camellias. They’re ideal for pots and, due to their height, they’re also suited to the backs of beds.

Soil Preparation

Liliums like moist soil but do not like wet feet, so the soil needs to be open and well-drained. Drainage can be improved by planting on a slight slope, raising beds or planting in raised mounds of soil.

For the enthusiast, we recommend a soil mix of 2 parts sandy loam, 2 parts peat and 1 part sand. Some varieties, such as the Double Tiger Lily, are a little less fussy about soil type.

For growing in pots, use a bulb-specific potting mix.

When Your Bulbs Arrive

Plant immediately after delivery, and do not allow the bulbs to dry out. This is very important, as lilies do not have a dormant cycle like many other bulbs.

How To Plant Liliums

Lilies are a real companion plant and rely on growing in clusters to grow properly. Whether in pots or garden beds, you should generally plant a cluster.

  • Garden planting: plant 20-40cm apart at a depth of 10-20cm. Top the soil with a compost-type material such as well-rotted animal manure. Alternatively, use a complete fertiliser containing NPK, or a blood and bone fertilisers. Water in and mulch well.
  • Pot planting: use a deep pot of minimum 200mm diameter. Plant up to 3 bulbs per pot at around 75mm apart. Placing the bulbs so that they lean slightly inward will encourage mutual support of tall stems, and inserting a stake in the centre will create a central support as they grow. Position outside in a sunny aspect (pots can be brought inside or onto a patio once they’re flowering).


Lilies need to be kept moist during their growing cycle, and respond well to generous watering in summer. Mulching will help conserve water to keep the soil cool and moist.

Ideally, lilies should be fertilised at least twice during their growing cycle. Applying liquid fertiliser once plants are setting buds (i.e. when small buds appear in the apex of the leaves) will help keep lower foliage green. Fertilise the bulbs again after they have finished flowering to promote flowering the following year. In subsequent years, top dress with fertiliser in late winter.

For potted lilies, top-up fertiliser when flowering is finished, and place the pots in the garden to be watered with everything else while they die down. Bring the pots out again in early winter, top dress with fertiliser, water in well and watch them grow again.

After flowering (or when cutting flowers for display), cut about halfway down the stem. Enough leaves should remain for the bulb to develop, so that it can produce flowers the following year.

Prune plants down to ground level once the foliage has died off completely, but no earlier. Bulbs can be left in the ground to naturalise for several years without having to transplant them. If you are planning to lift and separate your bulbs, this should be done in autumn. Replant without delay. Liliums dislike being moved and wet feet.

They are generally pest resistant; aphids may be a problem but easily dealt with.

Recommended Varieties

Garden Express stocks a huge range of Lilium varieties including:

Lilies in the Garden – Caring for these Famous Flowers

For high drama and romance all summer long, the genus Lilium is a must By Tovah Martin



  • Botanical name: Lilium
  • Zones: 5-8
  • Bloom time: Summer
  • Site: Full sun, well-draining soil
  • Type: Bulb
  • Characteristics: Good cut flowers
  • Warning: Toxic to cats and dogs

Lilies, one of the most beloved bulbs for the summer garden, burst in with kaboom blossoms at an interlude when most flowers are in a holding pattern. Offering “swoony” scents, strong stems and substantial petals, lilies are also workhorses as cut flowers.


How to Plant Lilies:

Lily bulbs can be planted in spring, but getting them into the ground in autumn gives them a head start. Because they are stem rooters and the bulb often anchors a heavy blossom load, it’s critical to sink it at least 8 to 10 inches from top of bulb to top of soil. In regions where temperatures skyrocket above 90 degrees F on a daily basis, sink the bulbs an extra 4 inches or so deeper.

Planting tips:

  • Plant lilies in a berm or raised bed to ensure proper drainage
  • Lilies look best when planted in clusters of three or more bulbs
  • In areas of high rainfall, plant lily bulbs on their side to prevent rotting
  • If you have naturally acidic soil, add some garden lime to the planting hole

For more information about planting and storing bulbs, see Bulbs 101

Lily Care:

Take precautions against voles and other pests, especially in winter. And deer chomp the stems. Insects are also a peril. In earliest spring, when lilies first emerge, begin lily beetle patrol. They’re bright red and easy to spot. Simply remove them before they reproduce and wreak havoc.

Stake your lilies before the blossoms begin to weigh down the stems, making sure not to impale the bulb.

Don’t hesitate to cut your lilies for bouquets—but remove only 1/3 of the stem. Lilies use their foliage to replenish the bulbs for next year’s blooms. When cutting lilies, remove the anthers before bringing them indoors, as they can stain clothing and tablecloths.


We call many different plants lilies, however only those in the genus Lilium are true lilies. Calla lilies, daylilies, canna lilies and spider lilies are not true lilies and have key differences that are important for gardening success. True lilies are unique in that they produce a single flower stalk from a bulb, encircled by leaves and supporting multiple flowers.

Click to enlarge.

Calla Lily (Zantedeschia)

  • Zones 8-10
  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Bulb
  • Blooms in summer and fall
  • Good cut flower

Click to enlarge.

Daylily (Hemerocallis)

  • Zones 3-9
  • Full sun
  • Perennial
  • Blooms in summer
  • Not good for cutting – flowers only last 24 hours

Click to enlarge.

Canna Lily (Canna)

  • Zones 7-10
  • Full sun
  • Perennial
  • Blooms in late summer and fall
  • Not good for cutting, wilts quickly

Click to enlarge.

Spider Lily (Lycoris)

  • Zones 6-10
  • Part sun/part shade
  • Bulb
  • Blooms in fall
  • Good cut flower


Zones 5 to 8 are ideal for most lilies. Some are hardier, such as L. canadense and L. cernuum, which will tolerate the chill of Zone 3, but often not the heat in regions hotter than Zone 6 or 7. Easter lily, L. longiflorum, prefers Zones 7 to 9.


Lilies love full sun, and six hours or more is imperative. Lilies like to have their “head in the sun, feet in the shade.” To keep their roots cool, plant them with low-growing annuals, perennials, or grasses.


Most lilies like a soil that’s rich but not overly beefy, though the Orienpet lilies are not fussy about food and tolerate a leaner diet. Drainage is the critical issue. Given their druthers, lilies would like to be planted in a berm or raised bed so water drains away from the bulbs. A pH of 5.5 to 6.5 suits them best.


Not only have the hybridizers achieved upturned flowers (for shipability) to tingle the heart (and purse) strings of florists, but they’ve increased the color palette, bloom stint, stature and ease of cultivation for the gardening crowd. And a stronger plant translates into fewer chemicals, more lilies and a better world.

When do lilies bloom?

You can have lilies blooming in your garden all summer long by growing several different varieties:

  • Asiatic lilies bloom in early summer
  • Trumpet lilies bloom in midsummer
  • Oriental lilies bloom mid- to late summer
  • Oriental Trumpet (Orienpet) hybrid lilies bloom in late summer

What is the difference between Asiatic and Oriental lilies?

Asiatics, which bloom in early summer, are best known for their exceptionally broad range of colors, as well as wild patterns, brush marks, speckles and double blooms. Orientals, which bloom in late summer, are best known for their large, heavily scented flowers.

Which lilies are most fragrant?

The most fragrant lilies are Orientals, Orienpets and Trumpets, while Asiatic lilies are unscented. Some gardeners describe Orientals as having a spicy scent, whereas Trumpets emit a sweet perfume, and Orienpets offer a pleasant, light aroma (good if you have a sensitive nose).

Which lilies grow in shade?

Lilies flower best in full sun, but many gardeners find that they will also tolerate some shade. Species lilies, those originally found in the wild, are a good choice for light shade. Martagon lilies can also handle more shade than other lily types.

Are lilies poisonous?

Many lilies are highly toxic to cats, causing acute kidney failure if eaten. All parts of the plant are poisonous and many veterinarians recommend never bringing them into a home with cats. Use caution with Easter lilies and opt for floral arrangements without lilies. See more Common Poisonous Plants for Dogs and Cats.

Swipe to view slides

Photo by: Carrie Critchley.

1. ‘Stargazer’

Hybridized in the 1970s, ‘Stargazer’ is one of the most popular lilies in modern history. Featuring upward-facing, vibrant pink spotted flowers up to 8” wide, this fragrant lily performs well in the garden and makes a good cut flower. ‘Stargazer’ is an Oriental lily that doesn’t require staking and can be grown in containers. As a bonus, it will attract butterflies and hummingbirds.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.


Wedding an Oriental and a Trumpet (OT or Orienpet hybrid) lily in 2002, the big-blooming, open-faced beauty ‘Touching’ was born, with a compact size and changing background shades starting with a creamy-yellow debut, evolving into a whiter shade of pale. Each wide petal is also streaked with peachy pink. Strong roots anchor the plant, and the flowers linger long in prime condition.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.


When Dutch garden designer Jacqueline van der Kloet needed a lily to span the summer months at the New York Botanical Garden’s Seasonal Walk, she headed straight for ‘Pink Twinkle’. This 3- to 4-foot, glowing coral-pink bloomer scarcely ceases its bloom stint throughout summer. With freckled blossoms that triple the size of its tiger lily parents and look you straight in the eye rather than bowing their heads, ‘Pink Twinkle’ can waltz with pink as well as orange companion flowers.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.


When Dutch breeders turned their hands to lilies, they went straight for the pizzazz and have been mixing suffused colors and essential traits ever since. Fifteen years ago, Mak Breeding started its foray into the Tango Lily series of Asiatic lilies, with a signature central “face” of contrasting shades. Recently introduced, Orange Art® does the series proud with its nearly neon, pumpkin-orange blossoms and densely packed shiny black dots toward the bull’s-eye.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.


The first lemon-colored Orienpet hybrid to jolt the lily world, ‘Yelloween’ was introduced in 2001 with seismic reverberations. This sunny-hued bloomer with lime veins still holds the championship title for its color. Economically, it offers several virtues that cut-flower growers adore—the upturned flowers and a willingness to perform at cooler temperatures than most lilies (which saves on greenhouse heating costs). As Arie Alders of Mak Breeding says, “Some come, some go, but this lily endures.”

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.


In its native Siberia, China and Korea, Lilium pumilum weaves discretely through the grasslands. But when infused into the garden, its fiery colors spark, with an orange that verges on saffron. Standing about 1½ feet tall, this is one of the more demure lilies. The fact that the bulbs themselves are small makes it easy to nestle them in natural plantings. Bulb expert Anna Pavord recommends cutting the seed heads to allow as much of the plant’s strength as possible to return to the bulbs.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.


Legend has it that Lilium lancifolium sprang from the friendship between a hermit and a wounded tiger. When the tiger died, the hermit transformed his friend’s body into a lily. When the hermit passed, the flower spread over the Earth looking for its companion. Among the easiest lilies for naturalizing and readily visible from a distance, this species has tall (staking is imperative) candelabras bearing a constellation of luminous orange, speckled, nodding blossoms with recurved petals.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.


When a lily flower is described as a Turk’s-cap type, it’s the back-flung petals and the shape of the flower that the term describes, and lilies of several divisions share the trait. Martagon lilies are generally some of the easiest and hardiest to host. Although the flowers are relatively small, martagons go for quantity. In the case of Lilium martagon var. album, spires with two-dozen or more sparkling white flowers gradually open in a long, choreographed display.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.


The creation of Judith Freeman, an American breeder from the West Coast, ‘Scheherazade’ is a classic Orienpet hybrid and the love child between ‘Thunderbolt’ and ‘Black Beauty’. This towering lily can stand 8 feet tall and carry a bloom load of 40 sizable flowers per stem. Blossoms can appear to be edged with white or gilt with bright-rose markings darkening to burgundy. Although the flowers are dispersed, the spires require staking.

Photo by: Rob Cardillo.


Ten years ago, Mak Breeding’s holy grail was to achieve an Asiatic lily that verged on black. Still considered the darkest maroon on the market, ‘Dimension’ is a deep, sultry shade of burgundy right down to the stamens and pistil. The petals are thick and waxy with the sheen of silk, and each flower is edged in red. Not only is ‘Dimension’ a great cut flower due to the shipability of the upturned flowers, it’s a strong garden contender as well.


In addition to the nurseries listed below, check reputable local sources.

American Meadows 877-309-7333
B&D Lilies 360-765-4341
Gurney’s Seed & Nursery Co. 513-354-1492
The Lily Garden 360-253-6273
Old House Gardens 734-995-1486
Van Bourgondien 800-552-9996
Veseys 800-363-7333
Wayside Gardens 800-845-1124


We call many different plants lilies, however only those in the genus Lilium are true lilies. Calla lilies, daylilies, canna lilies and spider lilies are not true lilies and have key differences that are important for gardening success. True lilies are unique in that they produce a single flower stalk from a bulb, encircled by leaves and supporting multiple flowers.

Click to enlarge.

Calla Lily (Zantedeschia)

  • Zones 8-10
  • Full sun to partial shade
  • Bulb
  • Blooms in summer and fall
  • Good cut flower

Click to enlarge.

Daylily (Hemerocallis)

  • Zones 3-9
  • Full sun
  • Perennial
  • Blooms in summer
  • Not good for cutting – flowers only last 24 hours

Click to enlarge.

Canna Lily (Canna)

  • Zones 7-10
  • Full sun
  • Perennial
  • Blooms in late summer and fall
  • Not good for cutting, wilts quickly

Click to enlarge.

Spider Lily (Lycoris)

  • Zones 6-10
  • Part sun/part shade
  • Bulb
  • Blooms in fall
  • Good cut flower

This article was adapted from its original version for use on the web.

Lily Hybrids
Stunning Bulbs

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