Growing lilies

Lilies of different kinds are commonly found all across the globe. Lilies come in different shapes, sizes and colors.
Lilies are really excellent plants for beds and borders. Lilies are suitable for use in a shrub border, as accent plants, a formal or naturalized pool planting. Even some of the small species would fit perfectly in an alpine rock garden.
The Lily flower symbolizes purity and refined beauty. Based on the colour or type, the Lily flower can convey different meanings.
Colour/Type of Lily Symbolic Meaning
White lily modesty and virginity
orange lily passion
yellow lily gaiety
Lily of the valley sweetness and purity of heart
Easter lily symbol of Virgin Mary
Due to its regal beauty and the variety in color and type that can symbolise a variety of meanings, Lilies are also popular flowers for gifting purposes. Among the flower bouquets of lilies, stargazer and cassablanca lily bouquets are the most sought after floral bouquets. Besides bouquets, lily bulbs as well as potted lily plants are also popular gifts.

Some Interesting Facts about Lilies

  • Lilies are one of the most beautiful, and graceful of all summer-blooming flowers.
  • Lilies belong to the Lilium genus consisting of less than 100 known species, occurring in all parts of the Northern Hemisphere.
  • Lilium, the genus, is the Latin form of the Greek word 'Lerion' for the Madonna Lily.
  • Red lily was first described by the famous Swedish botanist Carl von Linne (Linnaeus) in 1753.
  • Lilies are believed to have been under cultivation longer than any other ornamental flower, having existed in gardens 3,000 years ago.Floral designs, particularly of Lilies, made their appearance and became very popular in the 18th dynasty of Egypt.
  • Madonna lily (Lilium candidum) is the archetypal flower symbolising purity. The association of Madonna Lily with the Virgin Mary dates back to an early Christian legend, in which her tomb was filled with Lilies after her assumption into heaven.

What are True Lilies?

There are many kinds of flowers, which have been called "Lilies", but many of these so-called Lilies such as the day-lily, water-lily, and arum-lily, actually belong to other groups of flowering plants.
Plants in the Liliales grow from Bulbs, or Corms, both of which will store food over the winter or during the dry season. Unlike other Liliales, these vines produce their flowers in spherical clusters called Umbels, as in Bomarea.
True Lilies are composed of fleshy scales without a protective outer coating. True Lilies are never dormant.

Varieties in Lily

There are numerous Lily varieties. But, among the Lily varieties , only groups like the Asiatics and Orientals are the most popular flowers and widely grown.
  • Asiatic Lilies - small flowers, less fragrant, wide colors
  • Trumpet/Aurelian Lilies
  • Oriental Lilies - Have strong fragrances, few colors,larger, flowers
  • The Wild Lilies
  • Martagon hybrid Lilies - Edible and Esculent herbs
  • Candidum hybrid Lilies
  • American hybrids Lilies
  • Longiflorum hybrid Lilies - strong, sweet fragrance, large funnel shaped flowers, usually white. 
  • Growing Lilies

    Lilies are propagated mainly by means of Bulbs. They are also grown from seeds, scales, bulbils and bulblets. One can buy lily bulbs online or from a local bulb vendor.
    Although the lilies grown from seeds are more disease resistant, the only disadvantage with growing lilies from seeds is that the lily plants take a longer time to bloom, may be, in some cases, even five to six years. Hence, bulbs are very much preferred to grow lilies.
  • Lilies are usually planted during fall or spring in the garden.
  • Lilies can also be grown in containers or in outdoors.
  • A cool, porous and well drained soil is essential for good growth of lilies.
  • Adding large amounts of organic matter will improve clay or sandy soils. The bulbs will stay in place for several years, so good bed preparation is an investment for the future.
  • The ideal location will for Lilies provides direct sun all morning during the summer, with partial shade during hot afternoon hours.
  • When selecting bulbs, be sure they do not look dry or shrivel, and plant them immediately.
  • Proper spacing usually is 12 to 18 inches apart, but it varies according to the variety selected.
  • As soon as the soil has become consistently warm during late spring, apply a 3-inch layer of organic mulch around the plants. The mulch will conserve soil moisture and keep the soil (and bulbs) from becoming too hot during the summer.

Lilies Plant Care

  • Lilies do not require daily watering, but when watering, be sure to water deeply enough to reach the bulb.
  • Feed the plants with a balanced fertilizer every few weeks during the growing season. Avoid high-nitrogen fertilizers.
  • Remove seedpods when they appear.
  • Also, remove stems and foliage when leaves become yellow.
  • Mulch should be removed in late fall.
  • Keep lilies blooming by removing blossoms as they fade. This prevents the plant from expending its energy in producing seed.
Lilies: A Guide for Growers and Collectorsis a complete book on Lilies geared towards experienced gardeners, horticulturists, and botanists. McRae provides techniques for hybridizing and explains the biology of the lily plant in detail. It is a must have book for lily lovers. You can gift this book on lilies to family members or friends who love Lilies or gardening in general.

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