Hybrid lilies (genus Lilium) are sorted into eight divisions that are based on their genetic background. The most common and readily available lilies for the garden are from Division I, Asiatic hybrids; Division VI, Trumpet hybrids; Division VII, Oriental hybrids; and Division VIII, Interspecific or hybrids that don't fit into any of the other seven divisions.
Asiatic hybrid lilies have the most diverse range of colors, patterns, and forms of all the lilies. This is due to the many species involved in their breeding. Flower orientation can be upward facing through all degrees to downward facing or pendant. Upward facing lilies for the cut flower trade are a focus of the Dutch hybridizers but these are also popular for garden use and comprise a large portion of the Asiatic lilies in commerce. Asiatic lilies are also available in short dwarf forms for use in pots. They come in the same colors and patterns as the taller lilies. Depending on the cultivar, they can start blooming from late spring to mid summer and very few have fragrance.
Upfacing Asiatic lilies are nice to have around a deck or in the front of the border where they are easily viewed from above. Taller ones can be planted farther back where they tower over shorter plants. In this case the whole plant is a focal point of interest.
'Bonnie Jean', 'Accent' and 'Pretty Girl'
'Trogon' and 'Heather's Promise'
Outward facing Asiatics seem to be preferred by hummingbirds. It is easy for them to access the nectar, then back out of the bloom. They work well in most areas of the garden.
'Alexly', 'Yellow Whoppers' ('Tiger Babies' behind) and 'Firetruck'
Downfacing or pendant Asiatics are unique lilies. The inflorescence can be quite open and airy and the strong stems sway gently in a breeze. The flowers are often smaller than those of other lilies, reminding one of butterflies. The ones with long pedicels need a bit more elbow room. Hummingbirds also like this type of lily for its easy access to the nectar furrows.
'George Slate', 'Morden Butterfly' and 'Katinka'
Double Asiatic hybrids 'Fata Morgana' and 'Elodie'
Trumpet lily hybrids are most often sold as seed strains with names such as Pink Perfection, Midnight, Black Dragon, Golden Splendor and others. Colors are in the pink to purple or yellow, gold and orange ranges. Black Dragon is a white strain. Many have golden throats. Trumpets can vary somewhat within a strain but overall are similar. Trumpet lilies can be quite fragrant, so plant them where a little perfume is desired in the garden. Aurelian lilies are trumpet lilies having L. henryi
in their genetic background. L. henryi
can add unique aspects such as wide open blooms, throat markings, completely recurved tepals, and papillae (bumps or protrusions on the petal surface). Trumpet lilies are bred to have nice looking exteriors as well as interiors because much of that surface is visible to the viewer. The bloom season for trumpet lilies begins as the Asiatic show tapers off.
'Tropical Isle', Ice Caves and Summer Palace
Aurelians 'Gold Eagle', 'Madame Butterfly' and 'White Henryi'
Oriental hybrids are the royalty of lilies. With huge flowers and divine fragrance, they make a real impact in the garden. Colors are in the range of white, pink, lavender and red. Breeders are also working to improve yellow in Oriental lilies, so we can expect to see more of those on the market. The most well-known Oriental lily is 'Star Gazer'. Oriental lilies start blooming as the trumpets wind down and they can bloom into late August. For the latest blooming Orientals look for L. speciosum
hybrids such as 'Uchida' or even the species itself. These bloom into September here in the Willamette Valley of Oregon. Like the Asiatic group, Oriental lilies are also available in short forms for use in pots and containers.
'Pensacola', 'Tessala' and 'Rio Negro'
This is a very large group of lilies that don't fit into any other division. They are derived from crosses of lilies from different divisions. These include the Orienpet lilies (OT, Oriental and trumpet), LA (L. longiflorum
and Asiatics), LO (L. longiflorum
and Oriental), OA (Oriental and Asiatic), and a number of other combinations. This is the hottest area for cutting-edge breeding, with new cultivars appearing on the scene every year.
Orienpets (OT) 'Rococo', 'Gloriana' and 'Miss Libby'
Longiflorum/Orientals (LO) 'Terni' and 'Pink Heaven'
Longiflorum/Asiatic hybrids (LA) 'Golden Torch' and 'Original love'
Oriental/Asiatic hybrids (OA) 'First Crown' and 'Chengdu'
As you can see, there are many choices for garden lilies. By growing lilies from each division, you can have lilies blooming all summer long. Find more in the lilium data base by searching for the type of lily (e. g. Asiatic, Oriental, trumpet, Orienpet) and include the word "lilium" (not "lily"!). If you are looking for short lilies, then include the word "pot" or "dwarf" also.