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14 Top Lily Varieties to Grace Your Garden

Lilies are the supermodels of the flower garden--tall, exotic and beautiful. Browse our favorite lily varieties to accent your landscape.

By Jamie McIntosh, The Spruce

What Is a Lily?

The lily has such a shining reputation in the gardening world, other flowers tend to borrow its name to boost their standing. However, neither the calla lily nor the day lily are true lilies. Only those plants in the Lilium genus may rightly call themselves lilies. By planting a variety of lily types, you can achieve a parade of elegant lily blooms from spring until fall for fragrance and cutting. 

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Stargazer Lily

Today's gardeners are spoiled by the vast number of lilies with upward facing flowers, but that wasn't a given in the 1970's. When breeder Leslie Woodriff developed the first Oriental lily to feature flowers that faced the heavens, 'Stargazer' took the gardening (and florist) world by storm. Hardy in zones 4-9, this three-foot stunner will perfume your entire garden in July.

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Casablanca Lily

A grouping of fragrant 'Casablanca' Oriental lilies is a magnificent addition to the white flower garden. The substantial, waxy petals stand out in cut flower arrangements, and are especially popular in bridal arrangements. Some staking or a sheltered planting site will protect long stems from snapping.

Michael Davis/Getty Images

Mrs. R.O. Backhouse Lily

Avant garde gardeners who crave something different will find it in the Martagon lily. The stems bear many layers of flowers in a pagoda-like shape, and are more shade tolerant than most lilies. Plant Martagon lilies in the fall, and provide excellent drainage. The plants are slow to establish, and may not bloom the first season. 

 skhoward/Getty Images 

Tiny Bee Lily

Small but mighty 'Tiny Bee' dwarf Asiatic lilies glow along path edges and in patio containers. 'Tiny Bee' is an excellent choice for windy areas where taller specimens tend to snap and break. 
Michael Davis/Getty Images

Lollipop Lily

Two-toned Asiatic lilies like 'Lollipop' look best planted in masses of five to seven or more to draw attention to their spectacular coloration. If you provide these lilies with rich, well-drained soil and consistent moisture, you can expect your investment of a few bulbs to grow into many plants over the years. 

Steve Skjold/Getty Images

Tiger Lily

A long-lived and vigorous species lily, heirloom tiger lilies are perfect for those new to lily growing. Pendulous flowers bear many orange blooms with charming freckles in summer, and plants will spread and naturalize in damp locations. 

Melinda Holden/Getty Images

Easter Lily

Sometime in March, you may notice containers of beautiful white lilies popping up everywhere, not just in the garden center. The so-called "Easter Lily," Lilium longiflorum, is a symbol of purity and rebirth for Christians, but it can grace your garden long after the Easter bunny has left the building. Easter lilies have a normal blooming time of late summer, so the plants you bought for your holiday celebration were forced into bloom. Plant them in a sunny spot in the garden that has good drainage. They are hardy to USDA growing zone 4, and may return for years with trumpet-shaped blooms on four-foot plants. 

Colin Varndell/Getty Images

Regal Lily

Lilium regale bears trumpet shaped flowers similar to those you see on Easter lilies. However, unlike Easter lilies, the regal lily will grow five feet tall and needs support for its stems, which may bear two dozen six-inch long flowers each.

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Acapulco Lily

A clear, bright pink lily, 'Acapulco' Oriental lily won't disappoint gardeners who seek exotic perfumes in their summer landscapes. The lily leaf beetle is a problem in some areas; if you have a small number of plants you can stop this red pest with determined handpicking. 

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Elodie Lily

Some lilies are better suited for the cutting garden than others. With the 'Elodie' Asiatic lily, you get all the petals without the bothersome pollen that irritates noses and drifts onto tabletops.

James A. Guilliam/Getty Images

Robert Swanson Lily

What do you get when you combine the fragrance of Oriental lilies with the huge flowers and reliable performance of trumpet lilies? An Orienpet lily like 'Robert Swanson' combines the best characteristics of Oriental and trumpet lilies. Plant in the fall where the lilies will get at least six hours of sun a day. 

James A. Guilliam/Getty Images

Luxor Lily

The gold and bronze tones of 'Luxor' Asiatic lily will make a splash in your summer garden, especially when planted with orange companion plants like cosmos or butterfly weed. Hybrid lilies like 'Luxor' do not come true from seed, so propagate them by taking offsets or scales by lifting the bulbs and peeling away baby "bulblets." 

F.D. Richards/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Tiny Double You Lily

Lilies are not off limits to gardeners with small plots. A dwarf Asiatic lily like 'Tiny Double You' will tuck in to a few square feet in a sunny patch. Dwarf lilies have fewer leaves to sacrifice for cutting, so admire these beauties where they grow so plants have energy to form new blossoms next season.

F.D. Richards/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

Matrix Lily

The intensely colored flowers of Asiatic lily 'Matrix' are mesmerizing. With a high bud count of up to seven flowers per stem, you only need a few bulbs to create a focal point in the early summer landscape. The petite 20-inch stalks of 'Matrix' lilies are just right for the container garden.

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Lifestyle Magazine: 14 Top Lily Varieties to Grace Your Garden
14 Top Lily Varieties to Grace Your Garden
Lilies are the supermodels of the flower garden--tall, exotic and beautiful. Browse our favorite lily varieties to accent your landscape.
Lifestyle Magazine
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