Members of the genus, Lilium, are among the hardiest of the summer flowering bulbs for the home landscape. Fortunately, they are also easy to grow for the most part. Unlike their cousin, the daylily (Hemerocallis species), their flowers last many days before fading. Also, they grow from a true bulb while the daylily has a crown in the ground.

All lily flowers have six petals but, beyond that, there is a wide array of sizes, flower forms and leaf patterns. There are over 80 species of lilies so there is a lot to learn to distinguish between them. In light of this, lily enthusiasts have grouped the genus into 9 divisions which classify species and cultivars that have similar characteristics together. These divisions are subdivided to indicate differences in flower form and growing habit. For example: upright, outward-facing, or pendant and trumpet, bowl-shaped, flat-faced, or recurved flowers.

Horticultural Division 1.
Asiatic Hybrids.

Derived from species native to Asia, these lilies are among the earliest to bloom in the home landscape. They have a very broad range of colors including White, Pink, Plum, Yellow, Orange and Red. Flowers of this division tend to be upward facing, outfacing or pendant. Generally they do not have much fragrance, if any.
Most of these cultivars are formed by cross breeding species including  L. tigrinum, L. cemuum, L. davidii, L. maximowiczii, L.x macultum, L. x hollandicum, L. amabile, L. pumilum, L. concolor, & L. bulbiferum.
'Fire King' Nasturtium-flame 2-3 Stem Mid Outward-facing C LI OC
Hariequin Hybrids Pink, Red, Purple, Cream, Yellow 3-4 Stem Mid Pendent C: LT: OC
'Ma x will' Orange-Red 5-6 Stem Mid-tate Pendent C LT OC
Mid-Century Hybrids Yellow to Maroon-Red 2-4 Stem Early/mid Upright C LT OC
'Marhan' Rich Orange 4-5 Stem Early/mid Pendent, Turk'scap  
'Mrs R. 0. Backhouse' Orange-Yellow 4-5 Stem Early/mid Pendent, Turk'scap  LT PS

Horticultural Division 2.
Martagon Hybrids

These lilies bloom early along with the Asiatic lilies and have small, downward facing flowers. The stems have whorls of leaves spaced along their length. Martagons are considered shade tolerant but will also thrive in the sun. They do well in the same conditions as hosta. It may take several years for plants to become well established in the garden due to their slow growth rate. Flowers are most commonly Pink or deep dark Red but cultivars also come in White, Yellow, lavender, light Orange with dark speckles and spots on the petals.

Lily cultivars in this group are most commonly the result of crosses between L. martagon, L. hansonii, L. medeoloides & L. tsingtauense.


Paisley Hybrids White to Orange, Brown 3-5) Stem Early Pendent, Turk's-cap  
Lthr,in x testaceupn Apricot & Lilac spotted 4-5 Base Mid-late Trumpet plant very shallowly

Horticultural Division 3.
Candidum Hybrids

These are cultivars of combinations of L. candidum, L. chalcedonicum, L. monadelphum, & other species native to Europe with the exclusion of L. martagon. Only a few cultivars make up this division.

American Bellingham Hybrids Yellow to Orange-Red 5-7 Base Mid Turk's-cap C N PS  
Del None Hybrid Shades of Pink 5 Base Mid Turk's-cap C PS  

Horticultural Division 4.
American Hybrids

Northern North America has an abundance of native lily species and many of them have been crossed to produce a large group of cultivars. The bulbs have jointed scales and the blooms are borne up swinging, curved pedicels. As their native environment would indicate, these do best in cool summers and may tolerate dappled shade.

Species commonly used to develop these cultivars include  L. pardalinum, L. humboldtii, L. kelloggii & L. parryii among others.

Aurelian Black Magic Purple-Brown White inside 4-5 Stem Mid-late Funnel-shaped LT PS
Golden Clarion Strain Yellow to Gold 3-5 Stem Mid Funnel-shaped LT PS
Golden splendor Strain Deep Gold 4-6 Stem Mid Funnel-shaped C PS

Horticultural Division 5.
Longiflorum Hybrids

These cultivars come from a cross of L. longiflorum & L. formosanum. Plants in this division have White, trumpet shaped flowers and they are not especially hardy.


Horticultural Division 6.
Aurelian Hybrids

Plants in this division are characterized by large, waxy, trumpet shaped flowers with a heavy fragrance. The most common color is White but many cultivars are available in Gold, Yellow, Chartreuse, Pink, Plum and Apricot. These are mid to late season blooming lilies.

The species, Lilium henryi, is common in the breeding of these cultivars. It is often combined with L. luecanthum, L. regale, L. sargentiae & L. sulphureum.

Golden Sunbnrst Strain Golden-Yellow 4-5 Stem Mid-late Star-shaped C LT
'Green Dragon Chartreuse-Green 3-6 Stem Mid Funnel-shaped C
Heart's Desire Strain White, Cream, Yellow-Orange 5-6 Stem Mid Pendent C LT PS
'Limelight' Chartreuse-Yellow 4-6 Stem Mid Funnel-shaped C LI PS
Olympic Hybrid Pink to Green 4-5 Stem Mid Trumpet C LT PS
Pink Perfection Strain Violet to Purple 5-7 Stem Mid Funnel-shaped C PS

Horticultural Division 7.
Oriental Hybrids

This group of cultivars from Asian species is particularly tolerant of hot summer climates. The flowers are in shades of White, Pink, salmon and crimson with most of them being very fragrant. They like their "feet" cool so cover the soil with mulch to keep them happy.

Species involved in the development of these cultivars include L. auratum, L. speciosum, L. nobilissimum, L. rubellum, L. alexandrae & L. japonicum.

'Bonfire' Crimson & White 4-5 Stem Late Bowl-shaped C OC
Brandywine Orange 3-4 Stem Early Outward-facing C LT OC
Fiesta Hybrids Yellow, Red, Orange 3-5 Stem Mid Pendent C LT DC
Imperial Crimson Strain Crimson & White 4-5 Stem Late Flat-faced C
Imperial Gold Strain* White, Gold stripe 4-5 Stem Late Flat-faced C
Jamboree Strain* Crimson & White 4-5 Stem  Late Recurved C OC
L. auratum* White & Gold 4-7 Stem Late Open C PS OC
L. candidum* Satin-White 3-4 Base Early/mid Chalice-like C LT
L. eemuum* Purple-Violet 1-2 Stem Early/mid Reflexed UT OC R

Horticultural Division 8
Other Hybrids

This division is made up of cultivars not included in Horticultural Divisions 1 to 7 including crosses between divisions.

Orienpets Hybrids Cross between Div 7 (Oriental) x Div 6 (Trumpet & Aurelian)

Horticultural Division 9.
Lily Species

To be a species, a plant must be known to currently exist in the wild or there must be evidence that it once existed in the wild. Lily species come from many of the temperate zones of the world including North America, Northern Europe and Asia. Although may of the lilies commonly grown in the home landscape consist of cultivars, many of the species are also available in the nursery trade.

L. alexandrae            
L. auratum            
L. bulbiferum            
L. candidum            
L. cemuum            
L. chalcedonicum            
L. concolor            
L. davidii Cinnabar-md 4-6 Stem Mid Turk's-cap C LT PS
L. formosanum            
L. hansonii Golden-Yellow 4 Stem Early Turk's-cap N PS
L. henryii Orange-Yellow 7 Stem Late Recurved C LT N PS
L. x hollandicum            
L. humboldtii            
L. japonicum            
L. kelloggii            
L. luecanthum            
L. longiflorum Pure White 2-3 Stem Early/mid Trumpet-shaped C LT OC
L. x macultum            
L. martagon Purple or purplish 3-4 Base Early/mid Turk's-cap LT PS
L. medeoloides            
L. maximowiczii            
L. monadelphum Yellow sometimes spotted 4-5 Stem Early Pendent, Turk's-cap Li PS
L. nobilissimum            
L. pardalinum Orange to crimson 4-5 Base Mid Turk's-cap C N PS
L. parryii            
L. pumilum Scarlet 1-2 Stem Early Turk's-cap C LT OC R
L. regale White earnune 3-4 Stem Mid Funnel-shaped C N PS
L. rubellum            
L. sargentiae            
L. speciosum White to crimson 3-5 Stem Late Turk's-cap C N OC PS
L. sulphureum            
L. tigrinum Lemon to Orange some spotted forms 4-5 Stem Late Turk's-cap C LT N PS
L. tsingtauense            


Fragrant variety


Early = late spring to early summer
Mid = midsummer
Late = late summer to early autumn


C = suitable for cutting
ET = lime-tolerant
N = suitable for naturalizing
OC = suitable for outdoor containers
PS = likes partial shade
R = suitable for rock gardens


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