True Lilies Deserve a Special Place in Your Garden
by Don Janssen, Extension Educator
Asiatic lilies are among the first lilies to bloomin the garden
Lily is a common name used for several different plant species, but true lilies are members of the genus Lilium. They originate from underground bulbs and produce large, showy blossoms in the summer. True lilies are excellent plants for almost any garden situation.
The Asiatic lilies are a popular landscape or garden lily. Their upward or outward facing flowers are available in a wide range of colors and are frequently "freckled" with dark spots. Flowers of bright and pastel shades of almost every color except blue are available. Asiatic lilies are among the first lilies to bloom in the garden, many beginning in late May or early June. These hybrid lilies are often considered the most durable of the lilies and multiply quickly. Their only limitation is their lack of fragrance compared to some other lily types.
For fragrance and size of blooms the Oriental lilies wins. Their sweetly scented blooms begin in mid to late summer, as the Asiatic hybrids are finishing. They are available in shades of white, pink, and crimson. The open, reflexed petals can be spotted, brushed, or edged with darker or contrasting colors. Oriental hybrids perform best when protected from the hot, afternoon sun and strong winds.
Trumpet lilies bloom about the same time as the Oriental lilies. Trumpet lilies, however, have spotless, fused petals. Their flowers resemble a trumpet, hence the common name. Their highly fragrant flowers were once available primarily in white and yellow, but hybridization with the Oriental and Asiatic groups expanded the variety of colors.
Lilies prefer an organic, well-drained soil that is slightly acidic (6.5 pH). Bulbs are normally planted in fall at a depth of 3 times the height of the bulb. In heavy, clay type soils, plant them slightly higher. Container-grown bulbs can also be planted in spring and summer.
Lilies will not tolerate wet, soggy soils. Full sun to light shade is best for lilies. Mulching is recommended for lilies since it keeps the soil cool, conserves moisture, and prevents weed seed germination.
University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension in Lancaster County is your on-line yard and garden educational resource. The information on this Web site is valid for residents of southeastern Nebraska. It may or may not apply in your area. If you live outside southeastern Nebraska, visit your local Extension office