Lilies (Lilium spp.) are categorized into nine different horticultural divisions, based on their origins. Most commercially available lilies are hybrids engineered by crossing species, and each category includes the particular species from which the lilies were derived. Lilies come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes, as well as cultural preferences and ease of growing. With countless lily varieties in existence and more created from hybridization each year, you'll have no shortage of lily types to choose from.
Species lilies include all the native, wild lilies from which the hybrid lilies are developed. These non-hybrid lilies are the species native to Asia, Europe and North America. Many species lilies are more difficult to grow than the engineered hybrids.
Asiatic hybrid lilies are created from crossing certain lily species, including L. amabile, L. bulbiferum, L. cernuum, L. concolor, L. davidii, L. x hollandicum, L. x macultum and L. maximowiczii. Usually the easiest to grow and the earliest to bloom in the spring, Asiatic hybrid lilies are not fragrant and come in a wide range of flower colors, from whites to reds and purples. Asiatic lilies include the Iona, Gypsy, Oklahoma, Medusa and Blood Tiger lilies.
Martagon hybrid lilies are also early-spring bloomers, but they're tall and have whorled leaves. Martagon lilies have smaller, down-facing blooms and are engineered from the L. hansonii, L. martagon, L. medeoloides and L. tsingtauense species. These lilies grow best in slightly shady locations and have a wide range of flower colors that often have tiny spots on the petals. The Amelita, Glacier and Komet lilies are Martagons.
Candidum hybrid lilies are rare and few in numbers. These hybrids come from the species L. candidum, L. chalcedonicum and L. monadelphum.
Naturally, the American hybrid lilies are derived from the North American species L. humboldtii, L. kelloggii, L. pardalinum and L. parryii. These lilies enjoy dappled shade and cooler, lighter soils, blooming in inward-curving, globe-shaped flowers. American hybrids also have different bulbs than other lilies, with tiny jointed scales. Some American hybrids are the Lake Tahoe, Lake Tulare and Wyatwood lilies.
Aurelian or Trumpet
Trumpet lilies, or Aurelian hybrids, have large, waxy flowers atop tall stems. The trumpet lilies usually have white flowers, but they also include some types with yellow, gold, pink and purple blooms. Blooming in mid- to late summer or autumn, Aurelian hybrids have fragrant flowers with petals that curve outward and away from the stamens. These hybrids come from the lily species L. henryi, L. luecanthum, L. regale, L. sargentiae and L. sulphureum. The Gold Eagle, Lady Alice and Amethyst Temple are trumpet or Aurelian hybrid lilies.
Oriental hybrid lilies, also known as stargazer lilies, have large, fragrant flowers that are usually shades of crimson, pink and white. These hybrids are engineered from the L. auratum, L. japonicum, L. alexandrae, L. rubellum, L. nobilissimum and L. speciosum species. Oriental lilies like some shade, temperate but not hot climates, and lots of water. Oriental hybrids include the Casa Blanca, Midnight Star, Muscadet and Sans Souci lilies.
Longiflorum hybrids have white trumpet-shaped flowers and are derived from the L. formosanum and L. longiflorum species.
Other hybrid lilies include many varieties that are created from crossing various hybrid divisions, including lilies derived from marrying oriental and trumpet hybrids. The miscellaneous hybrid lilies are often engineered to create lilies that are more tolerant of extreme heat and cold. Miscellaneous hybrids include the "Orienpets" types, some of which are the Alchemy, American Bandstand and American Heritage lilies. Other cross-divisional lilies include Fiery Bells and Elegant Lady lilies.