Last Updated on October 31, 2021 by Phil
True lilies are those that belong to the Lilium genus. We’re all familiar with them because of their beautiful blooms. But did you know that the 90 species are grouped into 9 types of lilies.
This grouping was created by the North American Lily Society. And, it helps classify the different kinds of lilies based on their origins.
As you’ll see below, each of them come from somewhere. And, they have specific features that make them similar within each division.
Types of Lilies
Asiatic lilies are the first division of lilies. They are also the most popular ones because they are the easiest to grow. This makes them perfect for beginners.
Asiatic lilies are known for their colors. You’ll easily find all sorts of pinks, yellows, reds, oranges, whites and many more. As such, their biggest selling point is their visual appeal. Unfortunately, they do not have any fragrance.
So, they may not be a good idea if you’re looking for something that’s scented.
These lilies do best in full sun. But, they can also tolerate partial shade and everything else between the two.
You can grow them indoors or outdoors. But, they are hardy to USDA zones 3 to 8. So, if you live outside of these regions, it’s a good idea to keep them as houseplants instead.
Asiatic lilies get grow from between 1 to 5 feet high depending on the variety. Many of them are hybrids which is why they look good. Growers will often try to come up with something that looks beautiful.
Martagon Hybrids make up Division 2 in the North American Lily Society’s categorization system. This group takes its name from L. martagon, which is one of the main genetic parents of the hybrids.
In contrast to the Asiatic Lilies which are easy to grow, these are the opposite.
But, while more difficult to care for, many growers still persevere because the results are well worth the time and effort put into them.
Martagons grow to between 3 to 6 feet tall and are stunning to look at. Their blossoms are exquisite.
And, it is also where they get the name turkscap lilies, due to the shape of their flowers.
As with many other lilies, they thrive in full sun. Although this division will do well in partial sun and partial shade as well. Their tolerance for the later makes them a good option for shade gardens or edges where trees or sides of homes may cast a shadow over.
The ideal time to plant them is during fall. This will allow you to enjoy their blooms once May and June arrive.
Since they are hardy to USDA zones 3 to 9, almost everyone can enjoy their beauty as long as you’re willing to deal with the growing pains that come with caring for these hybrids.
Candidum lilies make up division 3. These are much harder to find in nurseries or even online stores. They are also few of them in the group.
That said, they are heirloom plants. As such, their seeds are passed down from generation to generation (at least 50 years long). This ensures you have stable features and characteristics with each new plant.
Their parent species come from the Middle East and the Balkans.
These do well in full sun as well. But, they prefer something that isn’t too intense. As such, an eastern exposure is best since the morning sun is much more gentle.
Since they thrive in neutral pH soil, you may need to make some adjustments to your soil.
Do avoid overwatering as they get into trouble, especially mold when left in wet conditions.
When they mature, they can reach about 4 to 6 feet high. Although do note that you have a smaller range of zones you grow them outdoors. These are USDA Hardiness Zones 6 through 9.
Division 4 consists of American Hybrids. It is named as such because the members of this group were created by crossing different North American species of lilies.
They are known for their large flowers with downward curving petals.
American hybrids need soil that’s rich in humus. Also make sure that the soil is well-draining. Too much water or allowing them to sit in moisture are no-no’s.
Because their parents come from the region, they easily adapt to conditions within the states. However, if you grow them outdoors, do know that they’re hardy to zones 3 to 9. As such, any colder or hotter will make them struggle.
These are slightly bigger than some of the others with the ability to get as high as 7 feet tall.
Division 5 is the Longiflorum lily group. These are seasonal plants that naturally bloom in July and August. They’re easy to spot thanks to their white trumpet-shaped flowers.
But, most growers will force them to blossom during springtime since they’re what have come to be known as Easter lilies. Thus, they’re supposed to flower when Easter comes around.
Longiflorum lilies enjoy lots of sun. You want to give them at least 6 or more hours of exposure daily. But, do be careful where you grow them. That’s because they prefer to keep their roots cool.
As such, provide some shade to their roots or add some mulch to help keep them from getting too warm from all the sunlight.
Longiflorum hybrids originate from Taiwan and Japan. They are likewise smaller, getting to only 2 or 3 feet tall.
Trumpet and Aurelian Hybrids
Trumpet lilies are stunning plants that you’ll easily recognize in any garden. They grow up to 6 to 8 feet tall making them stand out among other flowers.
That said, some trumpet lilies grow to only 3 to 5 feet. Nevertheless, they’re still amazing to look at.
As you can guess, they get their name from the trumpet shape of their flowers.
You can grow them to become the main attractions in your garden during July and August.
The best thing about them is that they are easy to grow. Although, because of their large heads, you may need to stake them for support.
Trumpets and Aurelian lilies are hardy to USDA zones 5 to 8. They thrive with lots of sunlight.
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Division 7 is made up of oriental lilies. As you can guess, they get their name because their parents originated from eastern Asia.
Their exotic looks somewhat resemble that of Asiatic lilies. And like that group, they feature a wide array of colors to choose from.
On distinction is that these have lovely fragrance. Also, they are quite finicky which make them harder to care for.
Oriental hybrids will grow to about 3 to 5 feet tall. They need acidic soil and do well if you amend with compost.
Give them full sun for optimal growth. Although, they’ll do well in partial sun and shade as well.
As its name suggests, this group contains all the hybrid lilies that have been crossed using parents from other divisions.
These have been the trend in recent years and you’re likely to see more and more of them as growers attempt to create more unique-looking, beautiful lilies.
Another reason for mixing the species from different divisions is that one often will lack a particular feature.
For example, Asiatic lilies are gorgeous. But they don’t have any fragrance. As such, crossing them with something with a lovely aroma may produce a hybrid which combines the colors, form and scent.
Species lilies are wild lilies. As such, they are pure and not hybrids of any kind. Instead, these are used to create the hybrids of the ones we have in our gardens.
As such, this contains a wide variety of different lilies that are native to different parts of the globe including Asia, Europe and North America.
Thus, some easily adapt to the garden setting allowing gardeners to enjoy them around their homes. But, others are quite difficult to grow in our yards.