Lilium: Lilies Growing Guide

Beautiful perennial bulbous plants, not very easy to cultivate and consequently fairly rarely grown. A pity.


Lilies are very suitable for use in the border, especially on a slope in very light shade; they are also very attractive in semi-wild corners. The flowers keep for a long time in water.


Lilies will thrive only in cool friable soil, porous and rich in humus. The soil should be covered in plant growth. Since many lilies develop roots above as well as below the bulbs, they must covered in friable rich soil also. It is advisable to replant the bulbs every five years, first improving the soil. The bulbs are planted to a depth of 10-20 cm, preferably in spring; only the Madonna lily is planted in the autumn. In winter lilies must be given light cover.


By division, from seed, in some species from bulbils, and from scales rooted under glass.

Lilium auratum, Golden-banded lily: Height 60-180 cm; large white flowers with red or purple spotted golden-yellow streaks in late summer to early autumn. Easily cultivated species.

Lilium candidum, Madonna lily: Height 90-150 cm; fragrant pure white flowers in late summer and early autumn. Sometimes difficult, at other times easy, to grow. Prefers somewhat loamy soil.

Lilium hansonii: Height 90-125 cm; clusters of pendulous, small orange or saffron-yellow flowers with strongly recurved petals; easy to grow.

Lilium hybrids: An important group, of which we shall only mention the best and most easily grown:

Asiatic hybrids are very robust, about 1 m in height, and summer-flowering. The mid-century hybrids, of which ‘Enchantment’, photographed below, is one, are particularly well known.

Trumpet lilies form a large group of hybrids with enormous trumpet-shaped flowers. Fairly easy to grow. ‘African Queen’ is a well known, beautiful strain.

Oriental hybrids are exotic lilies with strikingly coloured marking. ‘Imperial Crimson’ and ‘Empress of India’ are among the well known strains; not easily cultivated.

Lilium lancifolium syn Lihum tigrinum, tiger lily: Height 60-100 cm; bright-red or orange-red flowers in very large clusters in mid to late summer. The flowers are blotched with innumerable purple-black spots. Quite hardy, and easy to grow.

Lilium martagon, Turk’s cap: Height 50-90 cm; small wine-red, white or purple flowers in elongated clusters in late spring to early summer. The bulbs should preferably be planted in the autumn.

Lilium monadelphum: Height 60-150 cm; pendulous, bell-shaped, golden-yellow or sulphur-yellow flowers in small clusters in late spring and early summer. The petals are strongly reflexed. Easily grown in loamy soil. Lilium pardalinum, panther lily: Height 90-180 cm; pendulous, funnel-shaped flowers in mid summer, yellow with large red-brown blotches in the centre and bright red along the tips of the strongly reflexed petals. Easy to grow. Lilium regale: Height 40-150 cm; flowering season mid summer. The flowers are white, trumpet-shaped, yellow inside, and very fragrant; the outside is streaked with lilac pink. Very easy to grow.


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