Lilies for Your Garden

Master Gardener Scoop – March 7, 2018

By Leora McTall,
Master Gardener

After spending two weekends at recent Shows, promoting gardening and selling lilies with the Hensons, it makes one realize that we need more lilies, and – Spring needs to hurry. These lilies are being sold in February, so what you see is a pot of dirt (gardeners are eternal optimists) with beautiful photos and a name marker, such as “Debby”, “Frisco”, “Anastasia”, etc.

The Henson’s were promoting the “Tree Lily”. In the lily world these are referred to as “Orienpet” (Oriental x Trumpet) lilies.

Tree Lilies are known to grow up to 7′ – 8′ tall after becoming well established – usually in about 3 years, resulting in a beautiful garden specimen. If this tall height might be questioned, Ernie and Ann displayed a dead brown stalk of a Tree Lily from their own garden which measured 7.5 ft.

To help clear up the question, “Just what is a lily?”, here are some more flowers that bear the name, “lily”:

True Lily – A perennial plant grown from a bulb. There are 9 classifications, which include the familiar Asiatic, Oriental, Trumpet and Orienpet lilies among others. The blooms are large, colorful and several are fragrant.

Trumpet Lily: A lily (often white) sometimes sold by florists and garden centers and displayed in your church on Easter Sunday. (also called Easter Lily). The Trumpet Lily is a ‘True Lily”.

Tiger Lily (Lilium lancifolium) is also a “True Lily”. Blossoms are down-turned, recurved and speckled. They were originally orange, but now come in several shades of red also. A Tiger Lily is not the same as a Ditch Lily.

Ditch Lily: Mistakenly called a Tiger Lily, which it is not. In fact the Ditch Lily is not even a lily. It is “Hemerocallis fulva” (commonly called Daylily). Ditch Lilies get a bad rap, maybe because they are so common – seen on roadsides and old home places. Maybe because they are just orange – no other colors – and they’re a smaller bloom. But when you look up close, the orange color is beautiful shades of coral, accented by a lighter stripe. And who doesn’t appreciate a plant that multiplies, spreading its beauty to the lowly ditch.

Daylily: The Daylily is not of the Lilium family. It is “Hemerocallis” (as stated above). It is one of the easiest flowers to grow, and has hardly any disease and pest problems.

Lily of the Valley is “Convallaria majalis”, and not a lily, but a perennial groundcover grown in the shade, with tiny white (or pink) bell-like flowers hanging from each stem. This sweetly scented flower is often added to bridal bouquets.

Peace Lily is not a lily. This plant is seen at funerals, probably due to its easy care, and most probably due to its “peaceful” name. It’s real name is “Spathiphyllum” which would prevent a lot of us from ordering it in memory of the deceased.

Lilies of the Field: The Bible refers to lilies several times, but of course the “experts” like to think (and may have proved) that they were not lilies, but a completely different flower.

So, of course, you may call these flowers whatever you like, just be sure to grow a lot of them and ENJOY!