Lilies in the Klapwijk gardens
Rather than just lump all the various species and cultivars all on one page, we have broken them into broad categories, which you navigate from the dropdown menu above.
Lilies are loved by gardeners everywhere. These big, bright, and dependable flowers have an elegance that's unsurpassed. If you plant several different varieties, like we have, you can have blooms all summer long.
Sometimes gardeners will tell us enthusiastically that they grow lilies . . . "Lemon Lilies" and "Tawny Lilies" (Hemerocallis) and "Calla Lilies" (Zantedeschia). Or they will appear at a lily show with a handsome exhibit of "Magic Lily" (Lycoris) or "Torch Lily" (Kniphofia). These are all beautiful flowers, and it is not surprising that they are considered to be lilies. But true lilies, or to be technical, members of the genus Lilium have special characteristics that differentiate them from other "Lily" plants. The bulb is usually the most distinguishing characteristic. It is composed of fleshy scales without a protective outer coating called a "tunic". A true lily is never dormant . . . it must be considered and treated as a living perennial plant. Lily bulbs may be kept in cool storage for a few months, but special care must be taken to keep them fresh and moist.
Types of Lilies
Many gardeners don't realize that there are several different types of lilies, and each blooms at a different time during the summer. By planting a few bulbs of each kind, you can have lilies in bloom literally all summer long, usually starting (at least out here in B.C.) by the end of the 3rd week of May. In our garden the first ones start in earnest by early June and in 2003 for instance we still had some late blooms in October, believe it or not. Mind you, that was only because we planted a few bulbs rather late, like around May.
Over the years breeders everywhere, but particularly in Holland, have been doing some fascinating work with hybridizing lilies. The variety available today is staggering. One site on the internet for instance lists in excess of 560 different varieties of Oriental Hybrids alone!!
Asiatic lilies (Asiatic hybrids) start the season in early to midsummer. Most have upward-facing flowers and all are hardy in zones 4 to 9. For us here in Richmond, B.C., we expect the first of the Asiatics to open up the first week of June, but the pixies may even be as early as the last week of May.
To extend the Asiatic lily season, consider planting LA Hybrids, a relatively new type of lily. These plants produce larger flowers than most Asiatics, with the delicious fragrance of the Easter lily. LA Hybrids grow to 48 inches high and come in a range of clear, bright colors from cream through pink, peach, yellow, orange and red.
The next lilies to flower are the martagons (Lilium martagon) also known as Turk's cap lilies. Growing 3 to 4 feet tall, they have dainty, 3-inch flowers with petals that curve backward (recurved), and up to 20 blooms on each stem. All Turk's Cap Lilies are hardy in zones 3 to 9. Martagons are relatively slow growers and may take a few years to fully mature. Some of them can be quite pricey as a result. I've seen listings for martagons for $40 a bulb and up! Imagine your reaction when you discover your prized, and pricey, Martagon bulb has fallen victim to a rodent's appetite... By comparison, some of the more prolific Orientals or Asiatics may be as little as $1 a bulb or less, if you buy them right!
Tiger lilies (Lilium lancifolium) stand 3 to 4 feet tall and have large, freckled, pendulous blooms with recurved petals. Tiger lilies are very hardy (zones 3 to 9) and will multiply to form large clumps over the years. They are happy almost anywhere, producing a dozen or more flowers on each stem. Colors are typically in the warm range, from golden yellow through orange and into reds.
Rubrum Lilies (Lilium speciosum var. rubrum) resemble the Tiger Lilies because they too have recurved petals. However, the color range is cool -- from white to deep pink -- and the blooms are sweetly fragrant.
Midsummer brings the flowers of the Trumpet Lilies. These elegant bloomers are named for their trumpet-shaped flowers, and all are hardy in zones 5 to 9. The Trumpet Lilies can be divided into two subcategories:
Aurelian hybrids: The taller of the two, these lilies can reach 5 feet tall.
Easter Lilies (Lilium longiflorum): Known for their huge, trumpet-shaped, outward-facing blooms. Most are quite fragrant.
The season ends with a bang when the Oriental Lilies start to bloom. Intensely fragrant, with huge, flat blossoms that can be up to 10 inches across, Oriental Lilies are fabulous in the garden or in a vase. Intensive breeding efforts have widened the range of colors. A new relative of the Oriental Lily is something called the Orienpet Lily or OT, a hybrid created from Trumpet Lilies and Oriental Lilies. The result has the best qualities of its parents: upward-facing blooms and intense fragrance.
There is a minor nuisance point to a blooming lily: the pollen may cause stains on fabrics. This can be prevented by letting the pollen dry first before brushing it off. Instead of brushing, the pollen can be removed by using adhesive tape. Any remaining spots will disappear over time through sunlight. Important: never use water on pollen.