The genus Lilium belongs to the family of plants known as Liliaceae. True lilies belong to this genus and, despite their names, some species such as the Peace lily or Day lily are not true lilies, despite the ‘lily’ part of their name.
True lilies have long, narrow leaves growing along the length of the stem and large, flamboyant flowers that are either single or in clusters. They grow from scaly bulbs. Many of the species are highly fragrant and typically range in height from 30cm − 120cm, although some can be much taller.
Different species of Lilium originate from different countries. For example, species like the Lilium monadelphum and Lilium pyrenaicum originate from European countries such as Turkey and Spain respectively, while the likes of Lilium auratum and Lilium lancifolium hail from Asia.
With so many different species of lily, the flowering time for these plants can vary. Varieties of the Lilium genus are widely available throughout the UK, at garden centres and stockists.
Popular species include the fragrant white Lilium Candidum, or Madonna lily and the Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum), that originates in Taiwan and has clusters of trumpet-shaped flowers and shiny leaves.
Plant lilies in the garden in the early autumn when the bulbs are semi-dormant. Water and feed from early spring onwards through the growing season. If you’re growing a tall lily variety, be prepared to stake the stems to protect them from high winds. Lilies grown in pots still need shady roots, so if possible grow lilies in deep pots to allow room for roots to probe downwards. Doing best in loamy, porous soil with good drainage, different species within the genus vary on the amount of sunlight they need. Lilies generally like cool roots and sunny heads.
Did You Know?
- Known to man for thousands of years, the bulb of the Madonna lily (Lilium candidum) was once cultivated to make a medicinal ointment and was popular with the Greeks and Romans, for both its medicinal properties and its decorative beauty.
- The name lily comes from the Greek word ‘leiron’ which referred to the white Madonna lily that is believed to have grown out of the milk of the goddess Hera.
- Lilies are nowadays given as a 30th wedding anniversary flower.