Renowned for their large, dazzling flowers and strong, sweet scent, lilies are equal parts elegance and flamboyance – and make a delightful addition to any garden.
Equally at home in containers, cottage, cutting and perennial gardens, many species also make a striking statement in naturalized meadows and woodland fringes.
These perennial flowering bulbs multiply readily and are easy to care for in the garden. And breeders continue to develop new hybrids every year, improving performance and delivering an abundance of vivid colors, fragrance, and form.
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And with almost 100 species and hundreds of hybrids, these bountiful bulbs can be enjoyed from the middle of spring right through to late summer – providing you know which ones to select!
That’s where this guide comes in handy. With so many delightful options to choose from, knowing a little something of their characteristics can ensure greater enjoyment and success.
Join us now to learn about the nine lily Divisions and the different characteristics of each group.
Along the way I’ll share some of my favorite cultivars. You’ll soon see why these heavenly flowers need to find a home in your garden.
Here’s what I’ll cover:
27 Favorite Lily Varieties
- The Lily Authority
- Hybrids and Species: The Nine Divisions
- Division I: Asiatic Hybrids
- Division II: Martagon Hybrids
- Division III: Candidum (Euro-Caucasian) Hybrids
- Division IV: American Hybrids
- Division V: Longiflorum Hybrids
- Division VI: Trumpet and Aurelian Hybrids
- Division VII: Oriental Hybrids
The Lily Authority
The Royal Horticultural Society is the International Cultivar Registration Authority for lilies and publishes the Lily Register.
The register is used to add new hybrids, and has sorted species, subspecies, and hybrids into nine different “divisions.”
These divisions are based on numerous similarities such as flower aspect and form, growth habits, parentage, and so on.
And while the general care for all types of lilies is basically the same, their bloom times and characteristics are distinct and varying.
For the home gardener, Divisions I and VII are the most popular, the Asiatic and Oriental Hybrids.
But the Trumpets in Division VI and the sumptuous, new hybrids in Division VIII, like the Asiapets and Orienpets, are highly rewarding as well.
Bulbs in these divisions can be easily obtained at your garden center, online, and from mail order catalogues.
Others may be bred specifically for commercial growers, or not bred at all.
For rarer specimens, you can try the seed exchange at the North American Lily Society (NALS), your local garden club, horticultural schools, or wildflower centers as potential sources for bulb or seed.
A Note of Caution
All parts of the lily, including the pollen, are extremely toxic to cats. Contact your veterinarian immediately if you suspect that your cat has ingested any part of the plant.
Hybrids and Species: The Nine Divisions
Here are the nine divisions as outlined by the RHS. I’ve highlighted some of my favorite varieties in each division and on some of them, I’ve provided links to our trusted affiliates.
Division I: Asiatic Hybrids
Asiatic hybrids are the result of the crossbreeding of 12 different Asian species.
The mostly non-fragrant blooms come in a wide variety of colors from delicate pastels to drenched, tropical hues – and can be solid colors, or have contrasting streaks and freckles.
The four- to six-inch flowers can face down, out, or upward with an open flower profile, and you can expect up to 20 flowers per stem from mature bulbs.
Plants grow from two to five feet tall and are among the easiest to grow – perfect for the novice gardener.
Asiatics are well suited to containers, beds, borders, and cutting gardens. Hardy in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 9, they bloom in late spring to mid-summer.
Here are some popular cultivars:
‘Heartstrings’ is a spectacular bicolored variety that sports a lightly speckled yellow center giving way to deep pink tips.
With five to seven vivid blooms on robust stems, this variety tops out at four feet tall and flowers in early summer.
Bulbs are available in bags of three bulbs at Walmart.
2. Netty’s Pride
With eye-catching blooms of deep purple that fades to creamy white tips, the upward-facing flowers of ‘Netty’s Pride’ appear in late spring or early summer, on three- to four-foot-tall stems.
‘Netty’s Pride’ adds drama and contrast to the late spring garden, and adds interest to cut flower arrangements.
Find bags of three bulbs available at Burpee.
3. Night Rider
The moody ‘Night Rider’ is a cross between an Asiatic and a trumpet lily and has dark, almost black petals on its upward-facing blooms.
‘Night Rider’ blooms from early summer on three- to four-foot stems.
You can find bulbs in bags of five, 10, or 25 available at Eden Brothers.
4. Rosella’s Dream
Blooming in late spring or early summer, ‘Rosella’s Dream’ has a pink, lightly-freckled throat that fades to creamy-white with bright pink tips and edging.
A compact variety, ‘Rosella’s Dream’ grows up to two to three feet tall making it ideal for a dreamy display in pots or containers.
You can find bags of five bulbs available at Burpee.
Check out the rich, two-tone blooms of ‘Starlette,’ with gorgeous ruby red petals and orange tips and throat.
A prolific bloomer in early to mid summer, ‘Starlette’ grows three to four feet tall on robust stalks and makes a vivid statement in the garden.
Bags of five, 10, or 25 bulbs are available at Eden Brothers.
Division II: Martagon Hybrids
Martagons, aka “Turk’s Cap” lilies are native to Europe and Asia, and hybrids are renowned for their tall, four- to six-foot stalks loaded with buds – sometimes as many as 50 per stem!
The pendant flowers are fragrant and feature highly recurved petals that measure two to four inches.
Available in shades of burgundy, mauve, orange, pink, purple, white, and yellow, the petals are often adorned with freckles.
Plants bloom from mid to late summer and are the most shade tolerant of all lilies – Martagons do best in light, filtered shade or full morning sun with afternoon shade.
Plant in groups of three or more for a superb addition to woodland fringes, wildflower meadows, and in large containers or perennial beds.
Martagons can take a couple of years to settle in before they really take off, so be patient – they’re well worth the wait. Hardy in Zones 4 to 8.
Specific cultivars like ‘Cranberry Dancer,’ ‘Orange Marmalade,’ and ‘Rose Tattoo’ are some of the top performers, but they can be difficult to obtain.
6. Martagon Mix
The easiest way to add flowers from this division to your garden is to buy a mixed bag of bulbs.
Eden Brothers has a pretty blend of mixed Martagons in bags of three, six, or 12 bulbs.
Division III: Candidum (Euro-Caucasian) Hybrids
The most celebrated plant in this division is the graceful Madonna lily, beloved for its pure white trumpets and sweet, intoxicating fragrance.
Native to the Balkan Peninsula and the Middle East, hybrids are also available in light pastel shades of mauve, orange, pink, and yellow. Petals often feature a contrasting or darker shade on the back side.
The two- to three-inch trumpets face outward in clusters of up to 20 blooms per stem. Plants grow three to four feet tall and bloom in late spring to mid-summer. Hardy in Zones 3 to 9.
This is a small division and very few bulbs are cultivated for the commercial market. ‘June Fragrance’ and ‘Moonlight Madonna’ are notable cultivars.
7. June Fragrance
The early blooming ‘June Fragrance’ is a cross between L. candidum salonikae and L. monadelphum, and bears creamy-white flowers in late spring.
The flowers have a strong, sweet fragrance and stems grow up to four feet tall.
The ‘Nankeen’ lily, L. x testaceum, bears yellow to pale orange nodding blooms from late spring.
Stems grow up to four feet tall, and produce 12 to 18 sweet scented flowers.
Division IV: American Hybrids
Derived from species native to North America, these hybrids feature two- to three-inch, nodding or outward flowers with flared tips or recurved petals.
Blooming in late spring to early summer, these charming flowers typically come in deep hues of orange, red, or yellow.
The nodding blooms are often adorned with conspicuous freckles on the throats or petals and plants have five to 20 buds per stem.
Plants in this division grow three to eight feet tall with a light, graceful form and form large colonies when left undisturbed.
Ideal for any informal settings, such as cottage gardens, meadows, wildflower gardens, and woodland fringes. Hardy in Zones 3 to 9.
The ‘Bellingham’ group of cultivars in bold shades of orange, red, and yellow are the most popular of American hybrids.
Division V: Longiflorum Hybrids
Longiflorum hybrids come from species native to Japan and Taiwan and feature long trumpets of white or pale pastel shades.
The highly fragrant, outward facing flowers are five to seven inches long with 12 to 15 flowers per stem and grow two to three feet high.
Plants bloom in mid to late summer and are hardy in Zones 4 to 8. The familiar Easter lily, L. longiflorum, blooms in early spring only because it is forced.
An excellent cut flower, these hybrids multiply rapidly and make a good addition to perennial beds while dwarf varieties are ideal for containers.
9. White Heaven
‘White Heaven’ has pure white, trumpet-shaped flowers with a light yellow center and a delicate sweet fragrance.
Blooming in early summer, with three to six delicate flowers on the two- to three-feet-tall stems, ‘White Heaven’ is ideal for container growing.
Division VI: Trumpet and Aurelian Hybrids
Trumpet and aurelian hybrids are bred from two Chinese species producing tall, elegant plants with up to 25 large flowers per stem.
The large flowers grow six to 10 inches and face out or upward.
Available in colors of chartreuse, peach, pink, purple, white, and yellow, petals often feature a contrasting throat or color bars. Flower form can be bowl-shaped, flat, or open with reflexed petal tips.
These fragrant plants grow three to six feet tall and bloom in mid-summer. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
The following cultivars showcase the large, showy flowers.
10. African Queen
‘African Queen’ is a fragrant variety, with six- to eight-inch apricot colored blooms that appear in midsummer.
A winner of the Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society, ‘African Queen’ makes delightful cut flowers as well as adding interest to the garden.
‘African Queen’ grows to a height of four to six feet, with 15 to 20 flowers per stem.
Bags of three bulbs are available at Burpee.
‘Regale’ produces large trumpet blooms in white with a yellow throat, and a light pink hue on the outside of the petals.
Producing 10 to 12 flowers on three- to four-feet high stems, this variety is a splendid example of a trumpet lily.
Bags containing three bulbs are available at Burpee.
Division VII: Oriental Hybrids
Often found in florists’ bouquets for their long-lasting beauty and fragrance, Oriental hybrids are hybridized from species native to Japan.
The extravagant flowers can measure up to nine inches and come in shades of burgundy, pink, purple, or white and often showcase contrasting color bars and freckles.
Stems produce up to eight blooms per stem and grow two to seven feet tall. Orientals bloom in mid to late summer.
A superb, showy flower for the cutting or perennial garden and large containers. Hardy in Zones 3 to 8.
With delicate, milky-white blooms it’s easy to see how ‘Casablanca’ received an Award of Garden Merit from the Royal Horticultural Society in 1993. Popular with florists for use in wedding bouquets, ‘Casablanca’ has a light, sweet scent.
Also known as ‘Casa Blanca,’ this variety produces six to eight flowers on three- to four-feet-tall stems and blooms in midsummer.
Find five, 10, or 25 ‘Casablanca’ bulbs at Eden Brothers.
With huge white to pale-pink blooms, bright red stripes, and scarlet freckles, ‘Dizzy’ will adorn your garden with her sweetly fragrant flowers from midsummer.
Growing up to four feet tall, these blooms make delightful cut flowers
You can find bags of three bulbs available at Burpee.
14. Garden Party
‘Garden Party’ sports nine-inch flowers with creamy yellowish-orange centers that fade to white at the edges.
Delicately freckled with dark red spots, dwarf ‘Garden Party’ grows to a height of two feet and blooms prolifically in late summer.
Find bags of three bulbs available at Burpee.
15. Lotus Beauty
‘Lotus Beauty’ is pure white with tiny dark freckles and a delicate pink blush. This double flowering variety is pollen- and fragrance-free.
Blooming in mid- to late summer ‘Lotus Beauty’ grows to a mature height of two and a half to three and a half feet.
Find bulbs in bags of five, 10, or 25 from Dutch Grown.
16. Lotus Wonder
You can’t help falling in love with the bubblegum-pink petals, pale pink throat, and white pictoee edging of ‘Lotus Wonder.’
This one is a double-flowered variety and the sturdy stems grow to two and a half to three and half feet tall.
Intensely fragrant, ‘Lotus Wonder’ will start blooming in mid- to late summer, and add color to your early fall garden.
Find five, 10, or 25 bulbs of ‘Lotus Wonder’ at Dutch Grown.
17. Lovely Day
‘Lovely Day’ is another showy, fragrant variety, with creamy white petals and soft pink color bars. The slightly ruffled blooms are freckled and appear from mid- to late summer.
Topping out at two to three feet tall, this variety is ideal for container growing.
Find packages of five, 10, or 25 bulbs available at Dutch Grown.
18. Magic Star
This spectacular double lily has a sweet fragrance and an abundance of frilly pink petals with dark red stripes and light freckling.
‘Magic Star’ is ideal for creating a focal point in the garden and the luscious blooms emerge in midsummer on three-feet-tall stems.
You can add some magic to your garden with plants available from Burpee.
Large white freckled blooms with a golden-yellow throat that transforms into a bright crimson band makes ‘Playtime’ quite the showstopper.
Sweetly-scented, ‘Playtime’ flowers in mid to late summer on three- to four-foot stems.
You can find bulbs in packages of three available at Walmart.
20. Soft Music
‘Soft Music’ is a lovely shell pink, double hybrid that’s sweetly scented and pollen free – the huge 12-inch blooms are fantastic for bouquets.
Growing on robust three- to four-feet-tall stems, ‘Soft Music’ will adorn your garden from midsummer into early fall.
Bulbs can be purchased at Burpee.
One of the most popular and well-loved Oriental hybrids, ‘Stargazer’ was introduced in the 1970s by hybridizer Mr. Leslie Woodriff, and is a cross between L. auratum and L. speciosum.
Upward-facing, beautiful light to crimson pink, gently freckled blooms appear in midsummer. Each three- to four-foot stem produces six to eight fragrant flowers.
You can find bags of five, 10, or 25 bulbs at Eden Brothers.
Division VIII: All Other Hybrids
This division contains hybrids not covered in the other divisions and includes many popular interdivisional cultivars.
Most common are the LA hybrids (Longiflorum x Asiatic), OT hybrids (Oriental x Trumpet), OAO Hybrids (Oriental x Asiatic x Oriental), and LO Hybrids (Longiflorum x Oriental).
Highly fragrant, flower colors range from bold, vivid hues to delicate pastels and can have contrasting color bars or throats with or without freckles. Plant sizes vary as do flower form and directionality.
Typically, plants are hardy in Zones 3 to 9 or 4 to 8.
These hybrids are well suited for large containers, cottage and cutting gardens, perennial beds, and naturalized areas.
22. Big Brother
‘Big Brother’ can keep an eye on your garden, with his huge creamy-white and yellow blooms.
This Orienpet will grow up to five feet tall on robust stems and blooms in mid- to late summer.
Packages of two bulbs are available at Walmart.
‘Corleone’ is an LA hybrid (Longiflorum x Asiatic) with bright red to deep burgundy blooms and will add a light fragrance as well as color to your garden.
With large flowers and sturdy stems, ‘Corleone’ will grow to four feet tall, and makes excellent cut flowers.
You can add these blood-red blooms to your garden with bulbs available at Walmart.
24. Giant OT Mix
The Giant OT Mix is a collection of spectacular Orienpet (OT) cultivars sporting large blooms in a variety of colors, all with a heavenly fragrance.
Blooming prolifically from mid to late summer, the robust stems can grow up to six feet tall.
You can pick up bags of five, 10, or 20 bulbs from Eden Brothers.
25. Giant OT Zambesi
‘Giant OT ‘Zambesi’ is another Orienpet with large, creamy white flowers with gently ruffled edges.
This variety grows to a mature height of up to eight feet tall, and blooms in mid to late summer.
You can add ‘Zambesi’ to your garden with bags of bulbs available at Eden Brothers.
Division IX: All True Species
The final group contains all true species and their subspecies as well as their varieties and cultivars – excluding those found in Division V.
Species lilies often have a delicate appearance and come in a variety of forms and sizes.
Some are easily cultivated, while others can be stubborn for home cultivation – a bit of growing experience will pay off before trying species bulbs. Bloom time for species ranges from early to late summer.
L. auratum var. platyphyllum ‘Gold Band’ has huge white blooms with deep yellow stripes and a light freckling of bright red spots. The nine-inch flowers appear in mid to late summer.
26. Flore Pleno
To add a bit of drama in the garden, ‘Flore Pleno’ is a double tiger lily, L. lancifolium, and has the characteristic orange coloring with dark freckles, but with double petals.
Blooming in mid- to late summer, the fragrant ‘Flore Pleno’ produces up to 25 flowers on six-feet-tall stems.
Find bulbs in bags of five, 10, or 25 available at Eden Brothers.
A hybrid of L. tigrinum, ‘Splendens’ is a prolific bloomer. This unscented tiger lily has downward facing flowers in bright orange with black freckles.
Blooming in late summer through early fall, mature bulbs can produce up to 25 flowers on the three- to four-feet-tall stems.
Packages of three or six bulbs are available at Eden Brothers.
How They Grow!
As you consider the nine divisions of lilies, can you picture any of them sunning themselves in your garden? Be sure to check out our guide to growing lilies for more information.
For easy, dependable results, choose cultivars from Divisions I, VI, VII, and VIII.
These are the Asiatics, Orientals, Trumpets, and interdivisional hybrids like Asiapets and Orienpets – simple to grow, they’re also highly reliable and gratifying!
And for more information on growing flowers in your garden, you’ll need these guides next: