Lilies are an easy to grow plant with a fragrant flower in a variety of colors and shapes. The lily is a popular flower for gardens and cut arrangements, including special occasions like weddings and Easter. Lilies require minimal care and will bloom throughout the summer when several types of varieties are planted in your flower gardens.
A true lily is part of the genus Lilium and includes the common Oriental and Asiatic lily varieties. The daylily and peace lily are not actually lily plants; they use the name as the flower is similar to a true lily. A true lily will have a stiff stem with narrow leaves that start at the bottom and go to the top. Flowers are present at the top of the stalk-like stem with either bowl, trumpet, or bell shapes.
Types and Colors
Lilies are available in many colors including red, yellow, white, peach, pink, orange and multiple color mixtures. The Asiatic varieties bloom the earliest, starting in early June. The Trumpet and Aurelian varieties bloom mid summer and Oriental varieties bloom later in the season, starting in late July and August.
How to Plant
Lily plants grow in zones 3-10 depending on the specific variety. Always verify the variety is compatible with your growing zone prior to planting. Lilies start from a bulb that should be planted in the spring or fall for best results. Choose an area that is well drained and in full sun or lightly shaded. Prior to planting, break soil 12 inches deep and mix with 2 to 4 inches of compost. Dig a 6-inch hole and set the bulb in with the point facing up. In areas where voles or mice are a problem, plant the bulb in a wire cage to protect it. Cover the bulb firmly with soil and water thoroughly. Add 1 inch of compost in early spring, followed by mulch to prevent weeds. Lilies do not need regular watering unless there is less than 1 inch of rainfall per week.
Insects and Diseases
Lilies are bothered by few pests; however rabbits and slugs will attack young shoots in the spring. Aphids will suck on flowers of lilies, but can be washed off by spraying lightly with a garden hose. Water plants early in the day to prevent moisture buildup, which may cause the fungal disease, botrytis blight. This disease will cause red-brown leaf spots on the plant.
Separation and Moving
A lily plant needs separating when the shoots become compact and close. The best time to separate is in the fall after blooming is finished and stems have been cut back. To separate, dig the mound of bulbs and gently pull off the small bulbs that have grown around the main bulb. Planting the separated bulbs may take 2 to 3 years for new plants to establish and flower.