True lilies are a touch of the exoticI don’t know why some flowers always bring back memories of some TV show or movie. When I think of a lily I always remember Lily Munster, wife of the Frankenstein-ish Hermann, of the TV show “The Munsters.” Maybe it is because when I think of lilies, I think of something exotic, gaudy and unique. It is something that you just don’t see everywhere and exudes a certain type of mystery.
By: John Zvirovski, The Jamestown Sun
I don’t know why some flowers always bring back memories of some TV show or movie. When I think of a lily I always remember Lily Munster, wife of the Frankenstein-ish Hermann, of the TV show “The Munsters.” Maybe it is because when I think of lilies, I think of something exotic, gaudy and unique. It is something that you just don’t see everywhere and exudes a certain type of mystery.
Just the mention of the word “lily” and most people default to thinking of the common daylily found in most gardens. Actually the daylily is not even a true lily as is grows from a mass of fleshy roots, which belong to a different family. True lilies actually grow from a bulb or corm that slowly multiplies with time. The other difference is that daylilies have grass-like leaves from the base where true lilies have their leaves on the flower stems.
Like most bulbs and perennials, lilies enjoy a well-drained organic soil with good amounts of sunlight. Some may grow in semi to full shade, but do best with six to eight hours of sunlight per day. They also tend to like a fair amount of moisture, but do not like wet conditions that can cause rot. Overall, lilies are surprisingly easy to grow and adapt to most conditions.
Unlike most bulbs or corms, true lilies do not have the dry paper coating on them, thus they need to be protected before planting so they do not shrivel. Depending on the variety, the bulbs should be planted 4 to 6 inches deep with the pointed side upright. A little addition of bone meal under the bulbs will help with root development during the growing season.
There are four main types of lilies that can be planted. They are the Rubrum lily, the Asiatic lily, the oriental lily and the tiger lily. There are also some trumpet lily varieties, but most of them are for zones outside our range, but there are a few exceptions. With a combination of the four types, you can have a full season of lily blooms from mid-June to late August. Asiatic lilies are the ones that start the season out in mid-June. These can range in height from 1 to 4 feet and usually have flowers that face upward. They come in many colors and hold themselves up well without any type of staking. A couple of nice varieties would be the deep purple of the “Montenegro” or the striking deep pink and fragrant bloom of the “Cote D’Azur.”
Tiger lilies bloom during and after the Asiatic type and are the lilies we all remember from Grandma’s garden. They stand from 3 to 4 feet tall and can form quite a clump after time. They produce pendulous, freckled blooms that come in a warm range of yellows, oranges and reds.
A subspecies of the tiger lilies would be the Turk’s Cap lilies, which can reach heights of 4 to 6 feet tall. They come in shades of orange and purple with up to 50 small blooms per stem. They are quite stunning when in bloom and surprisingly do not need staking despite their height.
Rubrum lilies are similar to the tiger lilies as they also have the flowers with recurved petals, but tend to be more fragrant. They come in a cool range of colors from white to pink to fuschia.
The last type is the oriental lily, which comes in colors of pink, red and white. The blooms are large and flat with a strong, sweet fragrance. These flowers are commonly used in floral arrangements due to their size and fragrance. If you have ever seen an arrangement with these included, you can’t mistake their scent. One of the hot pink varieties is the “Stargazer” and another would be the pure white flower of the “Casablanca” lily.
Bulb division of the lilies can be done in early spring before they start growing or in late fall when they have died back. Most do not need dividing which may not be for quite some time after planting. And of the above varieties, the tiger and Asiatic lilies would need dividing more often.
An important note about the true lilies is that they are safe around most pets, but are highly toxic to cats. So be aware of this information before planting them for your specific use. A sick pet caused by plants in our yard can really take the fun out of gardening.
Whatever the reasons are that you plant lilies in your garden, with all the varieties available, I am sure you will find the types that will work best in your design. A lily garden, with a mix of all these types, can create quite a display throughout most of the growing season.
One more helpful hint. If you have ever had pollen from the lily get on your clothes when working in the garden, don’t try to brush it off. If you try and brush it off, it will stain your clothes. Try rubbing it lightly with a pipe cleaner and most of it will lift off from the material. The rest will wash out in the laundry.
See, Heloise isn’t the only person with helpful home tips! Enjoy the lilies in your field!