Planting Lilies in Spring
Lilies are easy! Learn about the two most common types, and you’ll be on your way to beautiful blooms.
I love Lilies, and who doesn’t? But for first-time growers it can be a little confusing to understand the various types. The two most common types are named asiatic and oriental, but what’s the difference? Even though both names speak of the Far East, the two types are completely different—varying bloom times, different heights, and distinct looks, too.
First of all, there’s great bang for the buck with all lilies. Imagine. Just a few of each of these two types will give you almost three months of constant lily blooms. And they require almost no work. Lilies can be planted spring or fall, and all you do once they’re up is keep them watered.
Best of all, popping in lily bulbs takes almost no space. Just stick them in between your perennials or in front of shrubs. There’s nothing lovelier than midsummer lilies towering over your phlox and echinacea! And yes, they all come back dependably each year, except in the coldest climates. Here are the two groups:
EARLY blooming, not tall, a host of colors and bicolors. Asiatics face upward with star-shaped blooms, making them great for cutting. Most grow to only about 3 ft. and open several blooms on each stalk, a ready-made bouquet. Bloom starts in most zones in June and goes on for about 5 weeks, depending on variety.
LATER to bloom, a little taller, have the largest flowers, and that heavenly scent. They bloom in most regions during July into August, grow to about 4 ft. the first year, but taller and taller each year after. Some (like Casablanca) open as many as 20 flowers per stalk once they’re about 3 years old, making lily bulbs one of gardening’s best investments.
Remember, your Asiatics will bloom first, in June, and then in July, the Orientals begin and bloom into August. Don’t miss a day of the lily season this year!
Other Lily Types
Other types include the trumpet lilies like Night Rider and tiger lilies like Tigrinum Splendens. Some are even crossed between two types. For example, the super-tall “lily trees” are called by two names “OT” and “Orientpets” which are crosses of Orientals and Trumpets. Obviously, the “OT” nickname stands for simply “Oriental” and “Trumpet.” These hybrids grow taller, bloom a little earlier and have the look of Orientals, but with more trumpet-shaped blooms. Tiger Lilies are just that—the famous old orange favorite with black spots. Yes, there are some tigers today in other colors, but everybody still loves the original. But if you plant just the “Big 2,” types, you’ll have a summer full of fantastic lilies. Go for it—they’re a snap to grow, and when your neighbors see them, they’ll think you’re a plant expert!