Lilies add lots of beauty and texture to the garden or landscape thanks to the multitude of colors available. Consider planting a combination of early-, mid- and late-season lilies for color all summer and into the fall. Enjoy the blooms outside, and bring some of the colorful flowers inside to beautify the home, choosing stems with buds just about to open.
While many plants contain the word lily in their names, not all plants, such as daylilies and peace lilies, are true lilies. True lilies sport stiff stems with narrow, long leaves and large flowers appearing on the tips of the stems. Depending on the variety, the plants bloom during the summer and into fall.
Lilies fall into a variety of classes including two of the most popular, the Asiatics and the Orientals. Some of the hardiest lilies available, cultivars including Enchantment and Dawn Star lilies, fit in the Asiatics class. Oriental lilies feature wide leaves and late bloom dates and include cultivars such as Stargazer lilies. Many Oriental lilies sport fragrant flowers. Another popular type, tiger lilies, comes from a hybrid of several species, including the Asiatic lily.
Lilies grow best when planted in the spring or from mid-September through mid-October. Transplant lilies growing in containers anytime during the summer. Choose plump bulbs with their roots attached, and plant them as quickly as possible so the bulbs don’t dry out. A location with full sunlight works best for most lilies, except for Martagon lilies which grow in partial shade. Lilies also thrive when planted in well-drained soil. Plant small bulbs 2 to 4 inches deep and larger bulbs 4 to 6 inches deep, spacing them 8 to 12 inches apart. If planting in the fall, add a 4- to 6-inch layer of mulch over the newly planted area to protect the bulbs from winter cold.
Once the danger of frost passes, apply an application of 5-10-10 or slow-release fertilizer to the soil in the spring. Keep an eye on the plants since aphids, little tiny insects that suck juice from the leaves, may appear. Spray the leaves of the plants with water to remove the pests. Once flowers bloom and fade, deadhead the flowers so seeds do not form. Avoid removing stems or foliage since they continue to provide energy to the bulb while green. In the late fall, add a deep layer of mulch to the tops of the lily beds if the area receives minimal snow cover to act as protection.
Lilies grow well in containers when space remains a premium in the garden or landscape. One of the most popular lilies to grow in containers is Easter lilies. A good potting mix for lilies consists of 40 percent sand, 30 percent peat moss and 30 percent compost. During periods of hot weather, the containers may require an extra round of daily watering during the growing or blooming season.