Hardy garden lilies are from the Lilium species, with many being hybrid plants, bred for better plants or flowers. Lily flowers attract hummingbirds and butterflies to any type of sunny garden.
A garden lily has an erect plant form growing 2′ – 6′ tall. The narrow lance-shaped short leaves encircle up and down each stem. At the top of each stem are trumpet flowers that are so large they have a nodding motion, especially when a light breeze rustles through the garden. Hardy garden lilies are better at growing back each year in zones 4 – 8.
Spring and Summer Blooming Asiatic Lilies
Asiatic lily plants have heavily speckled flower petals, although some hybrids are less so, but all bloom in late spring or early summer. Asiatic lilies have unscented smaller flowers, a consideration when planting a scented garden or one to attract, or not attract, wildlife.
Asiatic lily plants are very hardy, able to withstand Northern garden climates. The generally shorter plants do not require staking and easily multiply.
Late Summer and Early Fall Flowering Oriental Lilies
Oriental lilies are late summer and early fall flowering Lilium plants. Oriental lilies have larger highly fragrant flowers. Oriental lilies often require staking because of their heavy trumpet blooms despite the plant’s strong stems.
The most notable Oriental lily is Lilium ‘Stargazer’ that has big red flower petals dotted with deep red freckles and edged in white. A more recent Oriental lily is Lilium ‘Casa Blanca’ that is pure white.
How to Grow Hardy Garden Lilies
Garden lilies are easy to grow because the plants will tolerate a variety of soil types and will flower in full sun to part shade. Remembering the garden maxim “heads in the sun and feet in the shade” will help remind gardeners that lilies need cool roots to thrive. Whatever the soil type; grow the bulbs in fall where soil drains well and add a layer of organic mulch for the roots to grow healthy.
Asian and Oriental lilies can be grown in many types of flower gardens; for fragrance in a cutting garden or to attract hummingbirds and butterflies for instance. Where wildlife forage among open flower gardens, consider planting susceptible garden lilies in a fenced-in vegetable garden where the trumpet flowers can be enjoyed.
Gardeners with a shade garden may be interested in hardy Lilium plants for woodland gardens. If the planting bed has a ditch, consider reading about orange tiger lilies.
Permission received for all photos used in this article.