Many gardeners don't realize there are almost a dozen types of true lilies with a surprising variety of flower styles, stem heights, colors and bloom times. By planting several different types of lilies you can enjoy having these beautiful flowers in bloom from June to September.
In the list below, lilies are presented in order by their approximate bloom time. Within each type of lily, there are varieties that bloom earlier than others. Weather is also a factor. A dry, late spring may delay flowering, while an early, wet spring may speed things up. For information about planting and growing lilies read All About Lilies.
Early Season Lilies: Martagon Lilies, Asiatic Lilies, OA (Oriental-Asiatic) Hybrids, LA (Longiflorum-Asiatic) Hybrids, Double Asiatic Lilies
Mid-Season Lilies: Species Lilies, Trumpet Lilies (including Aurelian and Longiflorum)
Late Season Lilies: OT (Oriental-Trumpet) Hybrids, Oriental Lilies, Double Oriental Lilies, Tiger Lilies
Asiatic lilies bloom in early summer. They have upward or outward facing flowers in a rainbow of colors, from white through yellow, peach, orange, pink, red and maroon. Heights range from 1 to 3 feet and the sturdy stems rarely need staking. Asiatic lilies are ideal for flowerbeds and containers. All are winter hardy in zones 4 to 9.
Double Asiatic lilies have the same growth habits as regular Asiatics, but their flowers display an extra set of petals. This gives the blossoms a full look and also makes them pollen-free, which is nice for bouquets. Double Asiatic lilies are long-lasting in the garden and as cut flowers. They are hardy in zones 4 to 9.
LA Hybrids have very large, open-faced blossoms with a light fragrance. The flowers are outward or slightly upward facing and come in bright, pure colors They are exceptionally long lasting in the garden and in bouquets. Heights range from 4 to 6 feet. LA hybrid lilies are hardy in zones 4 to 9.
Species lilies such as Lilium henryi, L. 'Lady Alice' and the hybrid L. 'Black Beauty', are the wild ancestors of most modern lilies. They typically have reflexed petals and long anthers. As with most "wild" plants, species lilies can be particular about soil type and drainage. They are ideal for sheltered areas and naturalistic plantings.
Trumpet lilies include longiflorum lilies, Aurelian hybrids, and other types with large, deeply fragrant, trumpet-like flowers. Though some trumpet lilies are 3 to 4 feet tall, including the ones used as Easter lilies, most reach 5 to 6 feet tall and each stem may display a dozen or more blossoms. Trumpet lilies are hardy in zones 5 to 9.
OT Hybrids, also called Orienpets, are a cross between Oriental lilies and trumpet lilies. They have the spicy fragrance and open flower shape of an Oriental lily with the thick petals and slightly upward facing flower habit of a trumpet lily. OT Hybrids typically produce eight to twelve flowers per stem and they are in bloom for 2 to 3 weeks. They are winter hardy in zones 5 to 9.
Oriental lilies put on a breathtaking finale as they bring the lily season to a close. Their huge flowers measure up to 8” across and can be white, yellow, pink, rose or raspberry, often with halos, stripes, and freckles in contrasting colors. Oriental lilies will fill an entire garden with their intoxicating perfume. The plants grow 3 to 4 feet tall and are hardy in zones 5 to 9.
Double Oriental lilies have the same growth habit as regular Oriental lilies, but the flowers have been bred to produce extra petals rather than anthers. This gives the flowers a frilly look that’s particularly beautiful in bouquets. They have the same rich fragrance as regular Oriental lilies and are also hardy in zones 5 to 9.
Tiger lilies are a cross between species lilies and Asiatic lilies. They have pendulous, downward facing flowers with pronounced black freckles, open faces, and recurved petals. Flower colors range from golden yellow through orange and red. The 3 to 4-foot stems are decorated with pea-sized black bulblets. Tiger lilies are hardy in zones 3 to 9.