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Lily Lilium

Growing Lilies: Tips at a Glance

Perennial lilies will provide a shot of welcome color to the back of a flower border from early to summer through autumn (depending on the species and variety). Don't give up if they fail to thrive; lilies are known for their fickleness so just try another cultivar next year.

  • Type Flowering bulb
  • Lifespan Short-lived perennial
  • USDA Zones 3-11
  • Light Sun to shade
  • Water Well-drained soil
  • When to Plant Spring
  • Design Tip Plant in drifts
  • Companions Dianthus, daisies
  • Peak Season Summer

Lily: A Field Guide

Lilies are some of the most dramatic flowers you can grow in a garden, with their tall stalks and clusters of handsome flowers. So why don’t we see them in everyone’s garden? They have a dark side: they’re fickle and short-lived (expect to replace bulbs every three years or so).

Now that you know what you’re in for, plant some lilies (with 100 species and many more cultivars, you can find varieties to grow in USDA zones 3 to 11). Consider martagon lilies (also called Turk’s cap because of the adorable way the petals curl back on themselves in (delicate showers of flowers); fragrant Oriental lilies, and  trumpet-shaped Formosas (which are notable for blooming in late summer when other perennials are flagging).

Flower colors range from the pure white of Easter lilies to vivid oranges and yellows and red that will draw attention to a neglected spot at the back of the border. See more in Everything You Need to Know About Lilies.

Note: Daylilies (Hemerocallis lilioasphodelus) belong to a different genus but have very similar-looking trumpet-shaped flowers. One major difference is a daylily flower lasts only one day; after it fades, cut back the stem but leave foliage in place as long as it is green to aid photosynthesis.

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Planting, Care & Design of Lilies

More About Lilies