Lily, (genus Lilium), genus of 80 to 100 species of herbaceous flowering plants of the family Liliaceae, native to temperate areas of the Northern Hemisphere. Many lilies are prized as ornamental plants, and they have been extensively hybridized.

The word lily is also used in the common names of many plants of other genera that resemble true lilies. These include the daylily (Hemerocallis) and various species of the family Amaryllidaceae.

There are hundreds of native lily species around the world, and many of these species lilies are commonly planted as garden specimens. But many garden lilies fall into one of several hybrid groups: Asiatic hybrids (derived from a group of native east Asian species and hybrids), Oriental hybrids (derived from species and hybrids native to Japan), trumpet lilies (derived from specific species with trumpet-shaped flowers), Martagon hybrids (derived from species with a particular “Turk’s cap” curved shape to the flower petals), candidum lilies (derived from species that are native to Europe), American hybrids (derived from North American native species), and longiform hybrids (crosses between selected species chosen for their suitability as cut flowers). There is also an official category for hybrids that cross the normal classifications, such as when an Oriental hybrid is crossed with a trumpet lily.

Where to Plant

While Lilies are remarkably easy to grow in the ground and in containers, plenty of sunlight and well-drained soil will make them happiest. If you notice puddles of water 5–6 hours after a hard rain, scout out another site or amend the soil with organic material to raise the level 2–3 inches. They also fancy areas that are sheltered from high winds.

When to Plant

Lilies can be planted in the fall or early spring and tend to bloom from early summer to fall, depending on the variety. In many regions, Lilies are best planted in the fall at least four weeks before the ground freezes. These stunning plants favor cool soil, so for those planting in early spring, be sure to start when the ground is workable but not muddy.

How to Plant

  • For outdoor landscape planting, find a full sun location that provides shelter from high winds and dig holes 8–18″ apart. Place the bulbs with their tops 4–6″ below the soil surface and the slightly pointy end facing up.
  • For container planting, choose a container with adequate drainage holes that’s large enough to accommodate your plant’s mature size and fill it with good quality, well-drained soil. Dig holes and plant your Lilies close to each other with hips roughly 4″ apart. Tuck them down 4–6″ inches into the soil with the bulbs’ pointy part facing upwards.
  • Water thoroughly, soaking the soil to settle it around the bulbs.
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