The lily family in Latin is called “liliaceae”. This very large grouping of plants is so diverse, I wonder if at one time all plants went into this category! Along with the traditional lilies seen today, plants such as Hosta, Aloe Vera, Trilliums and some spring flowering bulbs fall into this category. Being such a large group, I will divide it into many articles over the growing season.
One member of the liliaceae family is the daylily. Daylilies are the most commonly seen lily, even the wild orange variety growing along the sides of the road embankments. These lilies are perennials that bloom in the summer and prefer full sun or part shade. They are a vigorous grower spreading by underground root and tolerate many types of soil. Clumps of long leaves form graceful fountain shapes, with the flower stems rising above.
There are many colours to choose from; pale shades to the most vibrant, in single or two-tone coloured blooms and blossoms are single or semi-double petalled. As their name indicates, blooms only last one day, appearing in mid-morning and lasting throughout the evening. Some are nocturnal, thus bloom late evening and throughout the night. Daylilies are very easy to grow and multiply, even a novice gardener can achieve beauty with these plants.
Hybrid lilies are commonly grown everywhere, seen blooming in the summer. They are less vigorous than the daylily, but are certainly worth a place in the garden. Bulbs create these lilies, from which a single stem emerges to produce many flowers on top. There are many varieties available that are hardy in our climatic zone, and some even colder. Diversity of colours are seen, suiting every colour scheme possible, and generally have brown spots in the center of the blossom. Their leaves are dark green, thin and strap-like that travel up the flower stalk, thus not clustering at the base of the plant.
These lilies look best when planted in odd numbers with other flowers, in a flowing pattern, rather than soldiers in a line. They can be grown in partial shade to full sun, requiring moisture-retentive, rich soil. Different varieties acquire various heights; the shortest being approximately 30 inches and the tallest is eight feet.
Their bulbs multiply slowly; one bulb usually divides itself each year, therefore doubling the amount of flowers given, but sometimes only a small stalk is given the first year after dividing itself. They are best divided in the fall, generally every 3-4 years, as this will enable the plants ample space needed to produce flower stalks and keep healthy. Some varieties in this grouping include Turk’s Cap Lily, Asiatic Lily, Tiger Lily and Canadian Lily.
Another grown, yet less commonly seen in gardens are the Regal Lily, that was introduced approximately one hundred years ago. It resembles the Easter lily, producing a flower from a bulb in colours of white or yellow and blooming in the summer. It is suitable for zones 3-8 and grows in a variety of soil conditions and requires full sun. Each bulb can produce as many as twenty beautiful, large trumpet-shaped blossoms on a single stem. They are best planted in the fall at the back of the border, as they grow four feet in height.
Lilies can be purchased potted up at garden centers, packaged in bags or in bulk bins in the fall. In my experience, I have purchased bulbs all three ways and all grow beautifully.
When planting lilies, plant in well-drained soil to avoid rotting the bulb. Daylilies can be planted virtually anywhere, just below the soil level. The bulb types are planted three times their bulb height, in a suitable location away from strong winds, as this will ensure their stems will not break when growing.
Add bone- or blood-meal in the planting hole, as well as sprinkling some on the very top of the soil. This will discourage skunks, raccoons and squirrels from digging up the newly planted bulbs, as well as feeding the bulbs in their growing season. The bulb varieties are a source of food for rodents, yet daylilies don’t seem to be affected as much.
After the lilies have bloomed, do not cut away their leaves or stalk because it is the nourishment received through them this year that produces flowers for the following year.
Every property could have one spot for lilies; along the roadside, beside the house foundation and even in deep pots for the apartment dweller. Why not try some!
What’s in a name
Email: Jennifer Moore