Asiatic lilies are among many great types of lilies for the garden.

Types of lilies: 8 beautiful choices for the garden

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Lilies are among the most recognizable of all summer garden flowers. Their large, bright flowers suit all types of gardens, whether classically designed, rustic, cottage-style or contemporary. While some folks might think lilies are too old-fashioned for today’s gardens, the truth is that there are dozens of modern hybrid varieties of lilies that offer color, elegance, fragrance, and a whole lot of style to today’s landscapes. Read on to discover 8 of my favorite types of lilies, and see why these glorious blooms deserve a prominent place in every garden.

Why are there so many different types of lilies?

Before I introduce you to my favorite types of lilies, it’s important to know that these summer-flowering bulbs are classified by botanists into 9 different divisions based on their genetics and hybridization history. Putting this large family of plants into categories like this helps both professional horticulturists and home gardeners know what the flowers of a particular variety of lily look like, when they bloom, and what conditions they thrive in.

The best types of lilies for summer gardens.

Lilies make beautiful additions to gardens, no matter what style garden you grow.

Within each of these 9 divisions are many subdivisions. And there are dozens, if not hundreds, of different varieties of lilies within each division or subdivision. I’m telling you all this not to dazzle you with botanical knowledge (though I’m sure you find it dazzling, right?), but to hammer home the point that there are an incredible number of options when it comes to bloom color, plant height, and other characteristics within each one of the types of lilies I introduce below.

In other words, each of these 8 types of lilies consists of many different choices, with a huge variety of bloom colors to knock your gardening socks off. However, my list of lily types doesn’t follow the same complex grouping botanists use (it’s close, though!). I simplified it slightly to make it easier for gardeners to follow along.

How to grow lilies and the best lily choices for your garden.

Lilies come in a broad array of colors and forms, but all have 6 petals and grow from bulbs.

8 Types of lilies for your summer garden

1. Asiatic lilies

Asiatic hybrids are bred from several different species of lilies. They have 3 to 6 flowers per stem, and the petals are often spotted. Asiatic lilies do not have a fragrance, and their flowers tend to be smaller than some other types of lilies. They come in many different colors, including shades of orange, red, yellow, and creamy white. Unfortunately, Asiatic lilies are a favorite of deer and rabbits. They have strong, straight stems that seldom need staking when planted in full sun. Asiatics make wonderful, long-lasting cut flowers.

Asiatic lily

Though Asiatic lilies are being replaced by more modern hybrids, they’re a reliable bloomer worth growing.

2. Oriental lilies

Of all the types of lilies, Oriental lilies are among the most fragrant. The heady perfume produced by the flowers is particularly strong in the evening. Oriental lilies have broader leaves than some other varieties of lilies, and the foliage and flowers are deer and rabbit resistant. The anthers of Oriental lilies produce a lot of heavy pollen. If used as a cut flower, pull off the anthers as the bloom opens to keep the pollen from staining furniture.

Oriental lily flowers are as large as a dessert plate, and many buds are found on each stem. Oriental lilies come in various shades of pink and purplish red, in addition to white and creamy yellow. The petals of some varieties are spotted and recurving, while others are not. Among the latest flowering lilies, Orientals grow 2 to 5 feet tall.

The best types of lilies for backyard gardens.

Oriental lilies are fragrant and beautiful. This variety stops most folks in their tracks!

3. Trumpet lilies

Also called Aurelian lilies, these hybrid lilies are best described as incredible. Prolific, trumpet-shaped, colorful flowers are long-lasting and highly fragrant. Their petals lack spots and the leaves are broad, though not as broad as the leaves of an Oriental lily. Some trumpet lily varieties have a dozen or more buds per stem, while others have only a few.

Trumpet lilies come in various shades of white, yellow, orange, cream, and pink, often with a star-shaped throat in a contrasting color. One of my favorite varieties of trumpet lily is an orange one named ‘African Queen’. I grew the bulbs in my very first garden and the plants reached nearly 8 feet tall. The fragrance was incredible.

Trumpet lilies are among the best types of lilies for modern gardens.

Trumpet lilies are tall and spectacular, bearing many fragrant flowers per stem.

4. Orienpet lilies

One of the best types of lilies for summer gardens, Orienpet lilies are a cross between Oriental hybrids and trumpet lilies. Their blooms have a shallow trumpet shape before they fully open into a broad bloom. The flowers are 6 to 10 inches across, and they come in shades of pink, yellow, red, orange, and white. The outward facing flowers are heavily scented, and the plants reach two to three feet in height. There are some truly stunning selections of these lilies. Orienpets make excellent cut flowers.

Orienpet lilies are one unique type of lily for summer gardens.

Orienpet lilies, such as ‘Allysee’ are a hybrid of Oriental and trumpet lilies. The blooms are huge!

5. LA hybrid lilies

Derived from a genetic combination of Asiatic lilies and “Easter-type” lilies, LA hybrids are the showgirl cousin of plain Asiatic lilies. Their flowers are bigger, bolder, and sexier than the Asiatics. Plus, they come in a wider range of intense colors.

Like Asiatic lilies, LA hybrids have no fragrance. They make great cut flowers, and they’re in bloom for weeks, making LA hybrid lilies real garden standouts. Each bloom measures about 7 inches across and the plants grow up to four feet tall.

Many types of lilies, such as LA hybrids, are bred to produce prolific blooms.

Sexier, more colorful, and more prolific than Asiatic lilies, LA hybrids are eye-popping and easy to grow.

6. Turk’s Cap lilies

The recurved petals of Turk’s cap lilies are unmistakable. Like tiny butterflies dangling from the end of graceful flower stalks, Turk’s cap lilies are about as adorable as you can get. Also known as martagon lilies, each stem produces a dozen or more blooms. You’ll find these lilies in shades of orange, yellow, red, and pink. The stalks of many varieties grow quite tall; up to 6 feet! Some have spotted petals while others do not, and most varieties are quite fragrant.

Grow Turk's cap lilies for a burst of summer color.

Turk’s cap lilies, like this pink variety, have recurved petals and long flowering stems.

7. Canada lilies

A North American native lily, the Canada lily sports orange or yellow, slightly recurved petals. The plants grow between 2 and 4 feet tall, with each stem producing whorls of 3 to 8 leaves at intervals along the length of the stem. Each stalk produces between 5 and 20 nodding blooms. More shade-tolerant than most other types of lilies, Canada lilies are a great addition to woodland gardens and moist meadows. Unfortunately, the deer and rabbits like this type of lily as much as gardeners do.

Canada lilies are just one spectacular variety of lily worth planting.

Canada lilies are sweet and bright additions to the garden. They’re more shade tolerant than most other types of lilies.

8. Longiflorium lilies

Also known as Easter lilies, Longiflorium lilies are sold almost exclusively as a holiday plant. Though there are several different cultivars of this lily, they all have a classic Easter lily appearance. The flowers are white and outward facing with a trumpet-like shape. Reaching 1 to 3 feet in height, Longiflorium lilies are forced to bloom out of season and in time for Easter by exposing the bulbs to very precise conditions to initiate a perfectly timed bloom.

The blooms are slightly fragrant. Surprisingly, Easter lilies are very hardy plants that survive winter temperatures as low as -20 degrees F. It takes a lot of energy away from the bulb to force them to bloom out of season, but if you want to give it a go, you can try growing Easter lilies in the garden. After enjoying their blooms indoors, plant the bulbs out into your garden as you would other types of lilies, and as long as they take to their new home, you’ll enjoy their flowers for many seasons.

There are many types of lilies that thrive in gardens, including the classic "Easter" Longiflorum lily.

This Longiflorum “Easter” lily has returned to a friend’s garden for many years.

Buying different types of lilies for planting

True lilies are in the genus Lilium, and they grow from true bulbs. Some other common plants, such as daylilies and canna lilies, may have the term “lily” in their common name, but they’re not actually lilies at all. They grow from tubers, not bulbs, and they’re in a different plant genus. Each true lily bulb is made of layered scales. The flower stalk is produced from the center of the bulb, and the roots emerge from a disk found on the bottom of the bulb.

Lily bulbs are sourced from a number of places. Your favorite local garden center likely offers a few varieties, but online bulb specialty catalogs tend to offer more types of lilies than garden centers. The bulbs are stored and sold in a dormant state for spring planting. Purchase lily bulbs around the time of your last spring frost, and plant them soon after.

Stargazer Oriental lilies are a variety of true lily. Learn about 7 other types of lilies.

All true lilies in the genus Lilium grow from bulbs, including this ‘Stargazer’ Oriental lily.

How to plant lily bulbs

Make sure the root disk is facing down and the stem end is up. All types of lilies are best planted in well-draining garden soil. Lily bulbs rot if their location is too water-logged. Choose a spot that receives at least 6 to 8 hours of full sun to keep lily stems tall and straight, regardless of which of the types of lilies you choose to grow.

Plant the bulbs so their tops sit three inches beneath the surface of the soil. Water the bulbs in well, and add a one-inch-thick layer of shredded leaves or compost as a mulch, if you wish.

How to plant lily bulbs.

Lily bulbs consist of many white scales. There’s a round disk on the bottom of the bulb from where the roots grow.

Growing different types of lilies

Once your lily plants begin to grow, they require very little care. If the plants flop, stake them with a lily support or a hardwood stake. After the blooms fade, cut off the top third of the plant to keep the seed pods from developing and robbing energy from the bulb. They need that energy to fuel the development of next year’s blooms.

Later in the growing season, it’s important to let all types of lilies naturally die back. Do not cut off the green leaves. They continue to photosynthesize throughout the growing season. In the autumn, after the stalks and leaves have turned brown, cut the lily plants down to the ground. If you’d like, toss a few handfuls of a bulb-specific fertilizer over the planting area. The lily bulbs use the nutrition to grow larger. They develop next year’s blooms inside the bulb when the plants are dormant.

Asiatic lily varieties

‘Royal Sunset’ is a stunning LA hybrid lily with bi-color blooms.

Where can you grow lilies?

Almost all types of lilies are winter hardy down to -30 degrees F, though some are even hardy at lower temperatures (the turk’s cap and Canadian lilies, for example). Lilies need a period of cold winter dormancy. They do not grow well in the extreme south. This is because lily bulbs need to be exposed to cold temperatures to form their blooms. But, if you really want to grow lilies in Florida, put the bulbs in a plastic bag in the fridge for 6 to 8 weeks to mimic a winter dormancy. After this period passes, plant the bulb in a container in a semi-shady spot and cross your fingers.

I hope you enjoyed learning about my 8 favorite types of lilies and how to grow them. They’re a lovely fit for every garden.

To learn more about growing gorgeous summer blooms, check out the following articles:

Do you have a favorite variety of lily? Tell us about it in the comment section below.

Pin it! 8 Beautiful Types of Lilies for Summer Blooms #gardening #floweringbulbs

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8 Responses to Types of lilies: 8 beautiful choices for the garden

  1. Musette says:

    Orienpets are my favorite! I have 20 or 30 varieties in my garden which, in late June, smells narcotic! ‘Robina’ is my first and still most beloved, with an incredible scent!

  2. Ukg says:

    How about day lilies?

    • While daylilies are lovely plants, they are not true lilies. Daylilies are in the genus Hemerocallis (family Asphodelaceae) and they grow from tuberous roots, while true lilies are in the genus Lilium (family Liliaceae) and they grow from bulbs. They are as botanically different as tomatoes are from daffodils. Sometimes common names can trick us into thinking that plants are related when they aren’t. Still, I’m a big fan of daylilies and have many in my garden.

  3. Karen L Canterbury says:

    Where might I be able to find the gorgeous Canada lilies? I have not been able to find them.

  4. Kansas Kim says:

    Hello Kansas Kim here
    First and foremost THANK YOU! I gained some Lilly Knowledge! However How can I learn to know for certain what different lillies I have? I would love to show you and kindly ask for your wisdom!

  5. Jill says:

    My grandmother had lilies that she called “Jerusalem Lillies” They were very tall and colors were pink/white and sometimes a touch of gold .They came up every 3 years .She had given them to us which we had for 20 years around a huge walnut tree..When the tree was removed the bulbs were lost in I think the roots .We never found them again .We waited several years hoping they would pop us but Gary never did .Have you ever heard of the Jerusalem Lily ?

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