Tiptoe Through The Lilies

As the merry month of June rolls around, the Fairegarden enters its Summer phase. That means lilies, Lilium species and cultivars of all types. I am addicted to them. An early blooming favorite is the LA hybrid group, nicely illustrated by L. ‘Royal Sunset’ above.

L. ‘Royal Fantasy’ has been in the ground for several years here. Many babies have been spread around to other beds. Read posts about them here and of the spreading process here.

Lilium ‘Royal Fantasy’ was planted along the daylily hill path edge in the beginning stage of this garden, one bulb per hole, ten in all. The increase over the years is nothing short of miraculous. It certainly makes the initial expenditure of time and treasure a wise investment.

Due to the steep slope and curvature of the pathway, the entire planting of these lilies cannot be captured in one image. You will simply have to take my word for their presence at this time of year. They make a statement.

Following the philosophy that if some are good, more are better, true of all bulbs by the way, a group of L. ‘Tango Crossover’ was added to the bed across the hall from the daylily bed, known as the heather bed. Purchased in pots after the blooms had gone over, for a song, it wasn’t until this spring that their true identity, true colors if you will, was revealed. They seem to be of the miniature group and will be spread along the heather bed edge. It is good that they are blooming at the same time as the stalwarts on the other side, too.

The Black Garden is home to many lilies of all types. The Asiatic L. ‘Cappucino’, a gift from daughter Chickenpoet one year is similar to the Tango Crossover in coloration and stature, with a more solid bit of the dark hue in the center. The name alone assures it a place in the garden. I admit to being swayed by well thought out naming that refers to food or drink.

In the same area as the coffee drink is this Asiatic L. ‘Monte Negro’. It is not as darkly colored as the name would suggest. It is however a gift from my other daughter, Semi. Note to All My Children: Lily bulbs make EXCELLENT gifts and will always be well received.

Ah, the high wattage candlepower of the summer sun is upon us already, making for finding the exact perfect lighting to be essential for the desired photographic effect. This is not it, but does show the L. ‘Regale’, the earliest blooming of the Chinese Trumpet class of lilies grown here. A post about how this became a *must have* garden denizen can be read by clicking here, if you wish to know more. Located in the shed bed with Eryngiums and Belamcandas, among others, this is the sunniest and driest spot we have.

Onward and upward to the knot garden where tall lilies of three sorts can be found, for now, growing on quadripod stakes. These were planted to add vertical interest after the big bloom of viridiflora tulips in early spring is over. The criteria for this planting included being something that would not smother the creeping Thyme crazy quilt planting blanketing each quadrant. Chinese Trumpets and this L. ‘Tiger Babies’ fit the bill nicely. The Trumpets bloom later, as do the Orientals growing in other beds. They will be featured when in bloom.

Some Wiki facts about Lilies:

Lilium is a genus of herbaceous flowering plants growing from bulbs. Most species are native to the temperate northern hemisphere. They comprise a genus of about 110 species in the lily family (Liliaceae).

They are important as large showy flowering garden plants. Additionally, they are important culturally and in literature in much of the world. Some species are sometimes grown or harvested for the edible bulbs.

The species in this genus are the true lilies. Many other plants exist with “lily” in the common English name, some of which are quite unrelated to the true lilies.

Some Frances facts about Lilies:

They prefer at least a half day of sun, but will grow with fewer flowers in shade.

The must have well drained soil, this is not negotiable.

They enjoy a feeding at the time of planting, but it is not a requirement. Mine are no longer fed anything at all and are doing just fine.

They do appreciate watering during times of drought when in bloom only.

The bulb will pull itself downward by the roots, so depth of planting is not crucial. In hotter areas, deeper planting will help keep the bulbs cooler. In colder areas a layer of mulch will help protect them from the frigid temperatures.

Depending on species, most are hardy in the coldest zones, heat is more of a problem. We are lucky with our zone 7a here in Southeast Tennessee and can grow most types easily.

Propagation can be done by rooting leaf cuttings, seeds and digging the baby bulbs that will develop around the mother bulb. I have tried all of these methods and find the digging of babies to be the easiest for flowering sized offspring the soonest.

Like Tulips, allow the stalks and leaves to die back naturally, for this feeds the bulb for next year’s bloom. Spent flowers may be cut, leaving as much stem standing as possible. The leaves on some will turn a nice shade of gold in the fall, adding to the season’s color palette with dignity and grace.

The taller species, like the Chinese Trumpets and their hybrids need to be staked, as do many of the lax stemmed Orientals. I leave the stakes in the ground to help me remember where the heck they are planted so as not to make a tragic digging mistake.

It is fine to buy the potted lilies and plant them in the ground, in bloom or afterwards, but the best bulbs and most variety can be found online from reputable bulb dealers, to be planted in the fall.

For more information on specific species, try our friend, Google, or other search engines. Every single garden will benefit from a few Liliums, so do give them a try!


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21 Responses to Tiptoe Through The Lilies

  1. ‘Following the philosophy that if some are good, more are better, true of all bulbs by the way’

    True indeed,I agree, your lillies are beautiful. I like the blackcurrant splash in the centre of the cappucino particulary.

    Hi Rob, thanks for being on board with our philosphical leanings! When bulbs are in bloom, especially the lilies, life seems more worth living. Let the battle cry be: MORE!

  2. Thanks for all o the info on the lilies. I am starting to view them as a staple in my small garden because they take up so little room in the garden bed. They are also a good succession plant coming up to fill a void of already spent plants.


    Hi Eileen, thanks for adding that. You are so right, the bulbs have such a small footprint of precious garden space, adding the much needed vertical interest, even when not in bloom.

  3. Les says:

    I really like ‘Tango Crossover’ and ‘Cappucino’, it must be something about the contrasting color and central spotting.

    Hi Les, thanks for visiting. I like them too, and wonder if maybe they shouldn’t be growing together and something else put in the heather bed. Maybe even more Royal Fantasy. I have plenty of them. Hmmmmm

  4. gittan says:

    Oh, I wish I was able to grow Lilies in my garden! But since we have a huge problem with Lilioceris lilii in our garden I’ve given up on that kind of lilies. They eat up all of them! Now I’m going to take another looka at yours =)
    Kram gittan

    Hi Gittan, so nice to see you, thanks for visiting. I am so sorry you have trouble with lilies. That would be sad, but I know you can grow many other wonderful things in your lovely garden.

  5. ‘Royal Sunset’ ! What a show opener!
    Makes me want to visit Tahiti…along with ‘Monte Negro’… I don’t have too many Lilies because of a high rabbit population, they devour them!
    Peonies are just starting for me!
    Don’t you just love late spring early summer?
    Hope you can stop by!


    Hi Karen, thanks. Royal Sunset is amazing and will be spread about lavishly as babies become available. I am sorry about your rabbits, maybe cages around the lower parts of the tall ones would work for you? Your garden is breathtaking!

  6. The name ‘Royal Sunset’ doesn’t begin to capture the vibrancy in the color. Wow! And thanks for including that wide shot so we get a real sense of the glory of your lily display. YOu must be just about knocked over by fragrance.

    Hi Linda, thanks, so nice to see you here. I like to show the long views when possible, to help readers get an idea of how the garden really looks. The scent of the Royal Fantasy planting is intoxicating late in the day. I feel like a drunk bee! HA

  7. joey says:

    How lovely, Frances … the Black Garden, intriguing!

    Hi Joey, thanks. The Black Garden sounds better than it looks right now, but is fun to plant. Dark foliage, names with dark or black and red, orange and purple flowers all coexist there. A jumble, but I like it.

  8. commonweeder says:

    I love those Tiger Babies. I am slowly acquiring more lilies. I haven’t had trouble with the lily beetle – so far – but I am going to have to be more diligent with the deer repellent!

    Hi Pat, thanks for visiting. The Tiger Babies are really a lighter shade than that photo suggests, lovely. Deer would be huge problem, even the tall lilies would not be safe with fencing. Dang!

  9. Leanne says:

    I’ve planted lilies this year – I wish now I had planted more seeing yours
    Love Leanne

    Hi Leanne, thanks for visiting. There is always next year, and look for babies around the mother stalk next spring. These can be transplanted and grown on, flowering in a couple of years. Free!

  10. Nell Jean says:

    Lilies oh Lilies. Some are not very happy in my hot and humid climate, but I like to have some of all so the season lasts longer. Asiatics are iffy, LAs are more dependable if they have more Longiflorum traits. Orienpets vary as well. My African Queen trumpets finally died out, I think in a wet winter. Orientals have a mind of their own.

    Lilies are worth a trial in everybody’s garden. I always wonder what they’re doing underground when they move from side to side of the beds over the years. Maybe Janie will make a post on propagation by splitting bulbs — something I can’t bring myself to do.

    Hi Nell Jean, thanks for visiting. The lilies can be tricky. We have found African Queen not to be as vigorous as what was sold as Lady Alice. I believe that one is really Henryi, look for it. The orientals are iffy here, except Stargazer. Some orienpets are good. Black Beauty is the star lily, very late blooming and a giant. I like to propagate by lifting the tiny bulbils around the mother plant in early spring/late winter. I have moved big ones, always leaving some in the ground unintentionally. Sort of splitting. HA

  11. Gorgeous!!! I love them all.~~Dee

    Thanks, Dee!

  12. Julie says:

    I can’t tell what picture I love the most, so I’ll just have to pick them all :). Have you ever tried Photoshop, photo merge? You would be able to take a few pictures and blend them together to create one big panoramic view of your lily garden.

    Hi Julie, thanks. I have a stitch effect on my photo program, but have never mastered it. Perhaps some day I will give it a try.

  13. Elizabeth McLeod says:

    Thanks for sharing these beautiful pictures. Lillies are a favorite in our garden as well. I especially loved the L.cappuccino lily! Most gorgeous lily blossom I have ever seen

    Hi Elizabeth, thanks for visiting. Cappuccino is a beauty, the name is good, too. I believe we both need more lilies.

  14. TylaMac says:

    I haven’t had much success with lilies here in Zone 7b.Unlike spring flowering bulbs they don’t take well to my heavy soil. It will take a lot of work to amend the soil but after seeing your beautiful lilies I’m thinking it would be worth it to try again. If I had planted some last year they would be blooming now. Instead I’m just missing the spring flowers and waiting for the daylilies to start their show.

    Hi Tyla, thanks for visiting. The soil here is heavy clay, but the steep slope of the entire property makes for good drainage, the most essential element. Try the Asiatics, they are cheap and easy, the gateway drug, then move on up to the others.

  15. Lisa at Greenbow says:

    Oh Frances, you have given me a severe itch for some more lilies. Happy June.

    Thanks Lisa, Happy June back to you. Funny, I have given myself a severe itch for more lilies! HA

  16. I’m liking ‘Tango Crossover’ and ‘Cappuccino’ very much. All of a sudden spots are very appealing. I admire the fall foliage of my lilies almost as much as the blooms. It’s odd that you never hear about it.

    Hi MMD, thanks. Those black and whites are appealing. I have noticed there are many of them that are similar with different names, too. I agree about the foliage, I think many people cut it down just as it is beginning to turn those pretty colors.

  17. Kathleen says:

    Frances ~ when you plant something, you go all the way! I love the variety and quantities you have. I’m going to re-read your requirements because for some reason all my Asiatics have died? I’m so bummed. I definitely will try again but if I need to change something first, I want to do it.
    ps I only wish my Mom were so easy to buy for….

    Hi Kathleen, thanks. Yes, I can be a bit on the obsessive side. I don’t know about your Asiatics, other than drainage? Now, if only I could get my kids to read the blog…

  18. Lola says:

    I do like those lilies. I must try to add more variety as I only have a few now. Some were here when we bought. Of course they are all the same color. The few I’ve purchased are different color.

    Thanks Lola. Lola need lilies! HA

  19. cheryl says:

    oooooo Lilies 😀 I love lilies and miss mine so much. I’ve spent days digging what’s left of them up, bloody red lily beetle, arrghhhh. They’ve now moved onto the Solomons Seal and Checkered Lilies. I’m on a mission! My own fave was the African Queen which grew along the veranda. Their evening scent flowed thru the home. sigh.
    Yours are gorgeous Frances, especially the Royal Sunset. You are blessed and may you always be free of the red devils.

    Hi Cheryl, thanks for visiting, so nice to see you here. After years of hearing about that dreaded red beetle, inspections have begun here. I see a small red bug and squish it, but don’t see any damage to the lilies. Maybe it is not the same? We have many Solomon’s Seals and Fritts, too. I will up the vigilance! African Queen is truly a beauty, and those trumpets are sooooo fragrant.

  20. gail says:

    Dear Frances, Every time I see your lilies I think I am being remiss not to plant more of them them! They are lovely and what a fantastic show they make…Sun and drainage are always and issue, but, as my dear friend always says: ONWARD! xxoogail ps Royal Sunset is beautiful. Stargazer loves my garden and I love its fragrance!

    Thanks Gail. Yes, onward we shall go! HA Stargazer is a beauty, I am so glad you have them.

  21. VW says:

    I just planted a bunch of Royal Sunset lilies and was so happy to see your pretty picture at the top! Mine probably have a month until they bloom – summer seems far away.

    Hi VW, that is terrific! Availability can be a problem for the LA hybrids, they are not as popular as some others, but should be. At least we can spread them from the babies, and will continue to spread and spread. You are going to be blown away by the colors.

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