Answer: Asiatic lilies are the easiest and most reliable in the average garden. They bloom early, usually in June and July. Stems are strong and erect, ranging in height from 1 ? to 4 ? feet. Most are hardy enough to grow in USDA zones 3-10. Bulbs can be left in the ground and multiply readily when planted in an ideal location. This is a great benefit and requires no work on the part of the gardener.
Plant lilies in loose, well-drained soil in an area with partial shade. Keep the roots shaded by planting between other plants or covering with mulch.
After blooms have faded, pinch them back to prevent seed pod formation. This will increase the number of flowers in future seasons. Lilies planted in late instead of early spring may not bloom or grow much foliage. If left undisturbed, they will perform well in years to come.
One of the most beautiful Asiatic lilies is "Connecticut King." This lily naturalizes easily and is a great cut flower. Stunning bright yellow 4-inch blooms in June and July make this a garden favorite.
Another Asiatic is "Enchantment." Its blooms are orange-red, spotted with black. In pastels, there's "Pink Floyd," an ivory pink banded with rose pink, and "Sancerre," pure white and unspotted.
Oriental lilies are the latest to bloom (late July or August), and also the most exotic. They bear big (up to 9 inch), fragrant flowers. Most orientals are tall, with nodding flowers, but a few species are dwarf and have upward facing blooms.
A popular oriental lily often seen in Colorado is the Tiger Lily (Lilium tigrinum). It blooms in summer (July-August) and grows 30-40 inch tall with beautiful, bright orange, curled flowers with speckles. It thrives even in poor soil, although most lilies benefit from an amended soil that is loose and well drained.
Another popular oriental lily is Star Gazer. This July/August bloomer has stunning rose red blooms with white margins. Flowers are about 5 inches in diameter and last well both in the garden and as cut flowers. Its fragrance is an added benefit.
A fragrant, exotic-looking oriental lily is Nippon. Its pure white petals are marked with a band of yellow and are edged in pink with dots. Its height of 35-40 inches makes a fantastic display among shrubs or perennials in July and August.
A good rule of thumb is plant to a depth of 3 times the bulb height and 12 inches apart.Apply a thick mulch of compost over the top both at planting time and annually every year after that.
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