Northern Gardening: More dirt on different lilies

The last article discussed daylilies, as well as the true lilies, tiger lilies and asiatic lilies. There are several other true lilies with a scaly bulb, some of which are hardy for us.

Most lilies do best in full sun, but there is one group of lilies that is shade tolerant. Martagon lilies are tall plants with a multitude of small flowers, up to 50 on a stem, mostly downfacing. Martagons are easy to grow, being highly disease resistant. They prefer good moisture and a slightly alkaline soil, benefitting from the addition of horticultural lime. They are fully hardy.

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The large scented flowers of Oriental lilies are often used by florists. These lilies are not fully hardy for us - they may survive some winters and then disappear. They will bloom the same year when a mature bulb is planted in the spring, so they could be grown as an annual in our climate. The dwarf orientals work well in a container. It is also possible to dig up oriental lilies in the fall and store the bulbs over winter in peat moss in a cool, dark place.

Trumpet lilies, another class of scented lilies, are very tall with large trumpet-shaped flowers. The white Easter lily is a trumpet lily. Trumpet lilies are also not hardy for us.

Interestingly, interspecies crosses of trumpet and oriental lilies are hardier than either species. Still not fully hardy, they are worth a try in a sheltered location with good snow cover. There are also interspecies crosses of asiatic and oriental lilies, and asiatic and trumpet lilies, hardier than either oriental or trumpet lilies. Fall planting and mulching are recommended for establishing true lilies, especially inter species hybrids.

There are other plants called lilies, that are not true lilies (Lilium), such as lily of the valley, an invasive ground cover. Calla lilies, canna lilies, Amazon lilies, spider lilies, peace lilies and others also have the common name of lily. These are warm climate plants often grown as houseplants in our climate.

Growing a variety of hardy lilies can give you a display of colourful flowers of different heights and shapes from July into late August. They are a very worthwhile group of plants.

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