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Lilium spp., Lily lil ee um

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Lilium spp., Lily
lil – ee – um

  • Description: Perennial bulbous plants with whorls of narrow leaves on a tall stem topped in spring or summer with beautiful large, open and spreading flowers.

  • Origin: Lilies originated in three locations: the Middle East and Asia, North America, and Europe. Many of today’s garden lilies are hybrids.

  • Height x width: 1 to 7 feet tall and 6 to 8 inches wide.

  • Growth habit: Upright.

  • Foliage: Crowded, narrow, lance-shaped, 4 to 6 inches long and ½ to ¾ inch wide.

  • Flowers: Each plant produces one to many large flowers that are usually nodding, open and spreading, in a wide variety of colors and patterns.

  • Culture: Full sun or partial shade and very well-drained soil. Mulch to keep the root zone cool. Taller varieties may need to be staked.

  • Pests and problems: Bulb rot in wet soils, botrytis or gray mold on leaves and stems after prolonged rains, lily mosaic virus vectored by aphids.

  • Uses: Border, single or massed specimen, cut flowers.

  • Propagation: Division, seed, bulbils.

  • Lilium varieties:
    • Asiatic—Derived from a species that originated in Asia.

      • Usually flower for over a month.

      • Leaves are smaller than those of the Oriental lilies.

      • Non-scented flowers are 4 to 6 inches across.

      • Usually face up, but may face out or down.

      • The plant is 1 to 3 feet tall.

      • Shades of red, orange, yellow, pink, lavender and white.

      • Frequently ‘freckled’ with dark spots.

      • Four to 8 calyxes (buds) per stem.

      • Compact growth, 2 to 5 feet high.

      • Multiply quickly.

      • Produce roots at the base of the bulb and at the stem just above the bulb, so should be planted 8 to 10 inches deep to allow them to root along the stems.

      • As a general rule, Asian lilies do well in areas east of the Rocky Mountains.

    • Oriental—Mostly derived from a wild species (L. auratum) and L. speciosum

      • Highly-perfumed flowers bloom in late summer (later in the season than most lilies; after Asian lilies) and are up to 1 foot across, 4 or ore calyxes per stem.

      • Flowers are usually larger than those of the Asian lilies and leaves are wider and more succulent.

      • Bowl-shaped with recurving petals—outward and down-facing flowers.

      • Tolerate more soil types than other types of lilies, as long as the soil is well-drained.

      • Splashy shades of white, pinks, deep reds and bicolors.

      • Spotted, brushed or edged with contrasting colors.

      • Grow 2 to 8 feet tall—may need staking due to their size.

    • Trumpet—Derived from L. longiflorum (Easter Lily).

    • Martagons—L. Martagon (Martagon Lily or Turk's-Cap Lily).

      • Produce 2- to 4-inch, pendulous flowers with rolled back (reflexed) petals in early summer.

      • About 3 feet tall.

      • Prefer alkaline soils (pH 6.5 to 7.5).

    • North American Species.

      • They grow from 4 to 8 feet in height.

      • Produce their 4- to 6-inch flowers in late spring and early summer.

      • Not stem rooted; often have stoloniferous or rhizomatous bulbs.

      • Examples are L. canadense, L. philadelphicum and L. superbum.

      • Includes species that still grow in the wild and which haven't yet been affected by hybridization.

      • Many hybrids have been developed from these native species.

      • Grow better when the soil is amended with leaf litter and peat moss.

    • European Species.

      • Examples are L. candidum, L. bulbiferum, L. martagon and their hybrids.

      • Require rich soils well amended with organic matter.

      • As a general rule, these species perform well on the U.S. west coast.

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