Lilium (group)
Common Name: lily
Type: Bulb
Family: Liliaceae
Zone: 3 to 8
Height: 1.00 to 8.00 feet
Spread: 0.75 to 2.00 feet
Bloom Time: June to August
Bloom Description: White, ink, red, orange, yellow, lavender, purple often with spotting and/or striping
Sun: Full sun to part shade
Water: Medium
Maintenance: Low
Flower: Showy


Most hybrid lilies are easily grown in average, medium, well-drained soil in full sun to part shade. They prefer rich, organic soils and are often best sited with the upper parts of the plant in full sun and the roots in shade. Mulch around plants to keep root zones cool. Plant bulbs 4-6” deep in fall. Potted plants may be planted any time from spring to fall. Bulbs need good moisture year-round. Do not allow soil to dry out. Remove flowers as they fade to prevent seed from setting. After bloom, cut plants back only after leaves and stems turn yellow.

Noteworthy Characteristics

Lilies are perennial bulbs that grow from 1 to 8' tall and typically feature 6-tepaled flowers in a variety of shapes (trumpet, funnel, cup, bell, bowl or flat), sometimes nodding, sometimes with reflexed petals, atop stiff, unbranched stems clothed with linear to elliptic leaves. Flowers are often fragrant and come in a broad range of colors except blue. For classification purposes, the Royal Horticultural Society and North American Lily Society have organized hybrid lilies into eight (8) divisions based primarily upon parentage, habit and flower type:

Division 1. Asiatic Hybrids. Derived from several Asiatic species. Upward, outward or downward facing flowers on stems 2-5’ tall. Usually non-fragrant. Blooms early summer.

Division 2. Martagon Hybrids. Derived from L. martagon and L. hansonii. Nodding, turk’s cap-type flowers with strongly reflexed tepals on stems 3-6’ tall. Often unpleasantly aromatic. Blooms early summer.

Division 3. Candidum Hybrids. Derived from in large part from L. candidum (madonna lily). Funnel-shaped flowers on stems 3-4’ tall. Often sweetly fragrant. Blooms early summer.

Division 4. American Hybrids. Derived from certain native American species lilies. Mostly turk’s cap-type but some funnel-shaped flowers on stem 4-8’ tall. Most non-fragrant. Blooms late spring to early summer.

Division 5. Longiflorum Hybrids. Derived from L. longiflorum (Easter lily). Mostly bowl-shaped flowers with somewhat reflexed tepals on stems to 3’ tall. Fragrant. Blooms mid-summer.

Division 6. Trumpet and Aurelian Hybrids. Derived from certain Asian species (e.g., L.henryi and L. regale). Classic long trumpets are the division signature, but other shapes exist (flat, bowl, reflexed). Stems to 4-8’ tall. Usually fragrant. Blooms in summer.

Division 7. Oriental Hybrids. Derived from certain East Asian species (e.g., L. auratum, L. speciosum, L. japonicum). Mostly bowl- or flat-shaped flowers, some with reflexed tepals on stems 2-8’ tall. Usually highly fragrant. Blooms mid-late summer.

Division 8. Other Hybrids. Catchall category of hybrids whose individual parents are otherwise assigned to more than one division.

Genus name comes from the Latin name meaning lily.


For the average gardener, hybrid lilies are fairly easy to grow. Lilies are usually pest free, but potential diseases include: (1) lily mosaic virus (prompt control of aphids which vector the disease is highly recommended, since there is no cure once infection occurs); (2) bulb rot (particularly in wet, poorly-drained soils); and (3) Botrytis. Taller plants may need staking if grown in too much shade (stems weaken) or in locations exposed to strong winds.

Garden Uses

Showy, often fragrant flowers for borders, cottage gardens or cutting gardens. Also may be grown in pots or containers, but plants and flowers will be somewhat smaller.