Lilies are known for their delicate beauty. They're grown from underground bulbs and belong to the plant genus Lilium. These plants are typified by a white fleshy bulb that resembles an artichoke. There are roughly 110 different wild lilies species and more than 9,000 named lily hybrids. To bring some order into all these different types of lilies, hybridizers group garden hybrids into divisions.
Asiatic hybrids, which are usually mistaken for tiger lilies, are the easiest to grow and bloom of all lilies. They come in various heights and their flowers bloom from late June throughout August. They have the widest range of colors than any division, as they're available in shades of white, pink, yellow, orange, red and plum. Flowers from Asiatics usually lack fragrance and can face upward, outward or suspended. They're also almost pest free.
Martagons are tall lilies that have whorled leaves and small flowers that face downward. They need some shade and about a year's time for adapting to a new garden. Although dark red is their most common flower, other colors include shades of white, yellow, pink, lavender, deep red and light orange. Their flowers typically have spots and whimsical freckles.
Most people think of a trumpet shape when they think of a lily. Trumpets aren't as hardy as most other types of lilies and are often grown in containers. They produce tall majestic flowers with enormous waxy fragrant blooms. Because of their height, they're ideal for planting at the back of a flowerbed or against fences and building. Besides glistening white, colors range from bright gold and yellow to pink, plum, chartreuse and apricot. There are even some that have brown, purple or sparkling green backs.
Orientals are similar to Asiatic lilies, but have wider leaves and a spicy strong perfume. They generally have six to twelve large blossoms on each stem in various shades including white, pink, red and yellow. The most common Oriental is called "Stargazer," which is not only beautiful, but also has a sweet fragrance and comes in colors of white, pink and red.
LA hybrids are a cross between an Easter lily (Longiflorum), lily land and an Asiatic lily. They produce huge blooms on tall hardy stems, with some having a fragrance. These hybrids quickly multiply, doing well in a garden and are usually bred for the cut flower trade. Their cut flowers last longer because their flowers are exceptionally large and their leaves have wider margins.