True Lilies

Lilies feel like old souls.  They have an aura of mystery, magic and romance.  Many perennials have lily in their name – daylily, lily of the valley, toad lily, but they are not true lilies.  Real lilies are part of the lilium genus, growing from fleshy bulbs with sturdy stems and narrow leaves from top to bottom.  And they have big showy blooms, which is what lilies are so known for!  Lilies tall, narrow habit mixes well in perennial gardens, adding height and strategic splashes of colour.  Asiatic and Oriental are the most common lilies.  Asiatic lilies come in a plentitude of colours, are hardy, and are happy in most well drained soils.  They bloom in June and July, but are not fragrant.  For showier blooms and fragrance you must work a little harder for Oriental lilies.  Oriental lily blooms are larger, perfumed and exotic, coming in red, pink and white.  They bloom in August and September, a little later than Asiatics, and grow taller.  They like acidic soil (you can amend with coffee grounds, pine needles or rotted oak leaves) and winter mulch.  The beauty and attraction of lilies is obvious, but many gardeners have passed on them because of the lily beetle (also called red lily beetle, scarlet lily beetle or leaf lily beetle).  This beetle feasts on lilies and fritillaries.  If these beetles find your lilies it can be quite a battle.  This ¼” long, bright red beetle with black head, legs and underside is easy to spot, as are the ugly larvae covered in brown goop that hide underside the lily leaves (you don’t want to know what the goop is).  I have tried traps but they didn’t work well.  You have to be up to the task of seeking and squishing to keep your lilies afloat.  I recommend planting a couple of lilies to see if the beetles show, and your collection can continue from there!

Technical stuff – Lilies/lilium, hardy flowering bulb plants, plant bulbs in spring or fall, prefer full sun,  well-drained soil, Asiatics bloom in June and July with height of 2’-4’, Orientals bloom in August and September with height of 3’-6’ and like acidic soil and winter mulch.

Posted on April 26, 2014 and filed under Perennials.