What are the different types of TRUE Lilies?
Lilies are divided into several Divisions. But when it comes to selecting Lilies for your garden, there are five groups that are the most popular and widely grown.
1) Asiatic Lilies Considered the most colorful and earliest to bloom, Asiatic Lilies originate from Asian species that have been bred to produce a wide array of color, shapes and forms. Modern day hybrids typically aren't fragrant, but those still closely related to the original species often have a light scent. Asiatics range from stout 1 ft. plants to fairly tall 5-6 footers. Bloom times range from late spring to midsummer, depending on variety.
2) Trumpet/Aurelian Lilies Probably the grandest and tallest of the Genus, this class of lilies are known for their towering (often up to 8 ft. tall!) stems of heavy scented trumpet shaped flowers. The familiar Easter Lily falls into this division. Easily raised from seed, most bulb companies offer seed grown strains that all closely resemble each other and share the same name; only a selected few are reproduced asexually (see "How do you propagate Lilies?"). Trumpets bloom in midsummer.
3) Oriental Lilies The Queen of late summer flowering plants! Orientals have come a long way from the original Japanese species Lilium Auratum and Lilium speciosum var. rubrum. Today's hybrids are much more larger, come in a variety of spectacular colors and forms. Many of us are familiar with the florist favorite 'Stargazer' and 'Casablanca.' These two set the standard of Oriental Lilies long ago, yet they still are perennial favorites. Probably the most admired characteristic of Orientals is their spicy, sweet perfume! Often overpowering to some, but a single bloom can fill a room with fragrance! Orientals range from 1-2 ft. dwarfs to 7 ft. immense giants blooming anywhere from midsummer and some carrying through to early fall. There are several earlier blooming cultivars as well making it possible to enjoy their color and fragrance throughout the summer.
4) Interspecific Hybrids Now that we've covered the three basic classes of garden lilies, it's time to take it to the next level and introduce hybrids between them that have recently been introduced to the market. Due to advanced breeding techniques, hybridizers have been able to cross lilies that normally wouldn't be compatible with each other. The work has resulted in some of the finest lilies ever created! Significant improvements in flower quality such as substance and color, vigor, heat tolerance and disease resistance have been made. These hybrids include: The LA Hybrids (Longiflorum (Easter Lily) x Asiatics), The Orienpets (Oriental x Trumpets), The Asiapets (Asiatics x Trumpets), and crosses involving Orientals and Asiatics have been developed. This is, by far, the most exciting group of lilies to grow!
5) The Species For the ultimate purist, nothing rivals the natural beauty of lilies as you'd find them growing in the wild. Far from the modern day hybrids we're all familiar with, there are several Lilium species that have proven themselves garden worthy. Often temperamental under cultivation, many wild lily species adapt well and add charm to any garden scheme. The key to success is trying to recreate conditions of their natural habitat (proper exposure, drainage, etc.) and obtaining well grown, disease/virus free bulbs and plants.