A Guide to Popular Lilies

Table of Contents

There are so many types of lilies! Varying colors and varieties of lilies can brighten up any garden, terrace or home. Lilies are versatile plants favored throughout the world. Outdoors they can fill a garden with color, fragrance and dramatic style. As potted plants they’re often used to decorate for special occasions such as Easter or a wedding. They make wonderful gift plants for Mother’s Day, a birthday, or a housewarming present since they can be planted outdoors to enjoy for years to come. There are many types of lily plants available, and that can lead to confusion about which to choose for your situation.

Facts About Lilies

  • There are 90 different species of true lilies in the genus Lilium.
  • Many of the flowers referred to as “lilies” are not lilies at all but called that as a common name because of their resemblance to true lilies, either in looks or in strong fragrance. Examples of false lilies include: daylilies, lily-of-the-valley, calla lilies, canna lilies and water lilies.
  • Lilies, especially white ones, have long been considered a sign of purity, virtue, and devotion. Perhaps for that reason, lilies are the traditional flower for the 30th wedding anniversary and the most popular flower name for girls.
  • Lilies are highly toxic to cats.

The types of lilies you are most likely to encounter include:

Asiatic Lily

Asiatic lilies are the easiest type of lilies to grow and come in a wide range of colors and heights.

  • Height: 1-4 feet (.6-1.2m) tall.
  • Bloom in early summer, usually before Oriental lilies. Plant them together for months of continuous bloom.
  • Flowers aren’t fragrant.
  • Make excellent cut flowers.
  • Come in a double flower form, in which the anthers in the center of the flower have been replaced with more petals. These double flowers are showy and resemble two flowers on top of each other.
  • Available in a wide range of colors.
  • Easy to grow in containers or beds.

types of lilies - Asiatic Lily_Red, Yellow and Orange Flowers

Oriental Lily

Oriental lilies are available in a variety of colors and valued in landscaping and cut flower arrangements for their strong, lovely scent.

  • Height: 1-5 feet (.6-1.5m) tall.
  • Bloom in mid-to-late summer and into the fall, usually starting as the Asiatic lilies are fading. Plant them together for months of continuous bloom.
  • Have fragrant flowers.
  • Make excellent cut flowers.
  • Hybrids are available with double flowers.
  • Available in a wide range of colors.
  • Easy to grow in containers or beds.

types of lilies - Oriental Lily_White and Pink Flowers

Asiflorum Lily

Asiflorum lilies are created by crossing Asiatic and trumpet lilies. The resulting hybrid varieties of lilies combine the desirable traits of both lilies into one plant.

  • Height: 30-38 inches (76-97cm) tall.
  • Blooms in summer.
  • Have fragrant flowers.
  • Flowers for a long time, because of multiple blooms.
  • Available in a wide range of colors.
  • Easy to grow in containers or beds.

types of lilies - Asiflorum Lily_Pink Flower

OA Hybrid Lily

OA hybrid lilies are a cross of the Oriental and Asiatic lily, the OA hybrid comes in a wide range of colors and has a distinctive lily perfume.

  • Height: 30-40 inches (76-102cm) tall.
  • Blooms in the summer.
  • Have fragrant flowers.
  • Available in a wide range of colors.

lily varieties - OA Hybrid Lily_Creamy Red Flowers

Easter Lily

Easter lilies are commonly found in white, though other colors are available, and often grown in pots for indoor enjoyment.

  • Height: 1-3 feet (.3-.9m) tall.
  • Nurseries force the indoor lilies to bloom for Easter, when they are familiar altar decorations and early signs of spring.
  • Have fragrant flowers.
  • Easter lilies can, with some care, be transplanted to the garden , where they will bloom in early summer in subsequent years.

types of lilies - Easter Lily_White Flowers

Potted Lily

Many varieties of true lilies, including Asiatic, Easter and Oriental, can be grown indoors to provide fragrant, colorful design elements.

  • Height: 1-3 feet (.3-.9m) tall.
  • In springtime, lilies are readily available as potted plants at garden centers and usually already in bloom.
  • If you want to grow your own from a bulb, you’ll need to refrigerate it for 12 weeks before planting to force the bloom.

types of lilies - Potted Asiatic Lilies_Orange and Yellow Flowers
Growing different types of lilies, indoors or out, in containers or beds, is one of the great joys of gardening. With the many colors, sizes, and fragrances to choose from, you’re sure to find a few lily flower favorites of your own.

Interested in transplanting potted lilies to your garden? Read our guide here.

types of lily - Orange Asiatic lily in a garden


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