Fragrant, floriferous & Absolutely Fab!
Common Name: Oriental hybrid Lilies
Botanical Name: Lilium orientalis
Form: upright, erect, columnar
Plant Type: herbaceous perennial summer bulb
Mature Size: 2 feet to 4 feet
Growth: fast, but slower than Asiatic lilies
Origin: species originate from Japan, S.E. Asia
Hardiness Zone: 4 to 9
Foliage: glossy, green, simple, lance shaped, narrow
Flowers: fragrant raceme, 6 large showy petals, star & trumpet shaped, many colours, early, mid & late varieties, flower after Asiatic lilies
Stems: tall, erect, green, herbaceous (non-woody)
Exposure: full sun at least 6 hours per day
Soil: well drained, moist, loamy, slightly acidic pH 6.3 to 6.8, mulch
Uses: garden border, cut flower, containers, fragrant garden, attracts butterflies & bees
Propagation: bulbs, bulblets, seeds
Pruning: deadhead to prevent seeds
Problems: generally pest free, mosaic virus, bulb rot & botrytis in wet soils, toxic to cats
Comments: There are many types of lilies: Asiatic, martagon, Easter, to name a few but the oriental lily's claim to fame is their intoxicating fragrance and their huge magnificent blossoms.
About Lilies: All members of the lily family grow from bulbs that multiply underground to form colonies. Each fall, their foliage turns yellow, their stems die back only to emerge with new growth the following spring.
All lily flowers are either star or trumpet shaped and bear 3 petals and 3 sepals (tepals collectively). Lilies have multiple blossoms borne atop erect stems that sometimes need staking. Flowers are often bi-coloured in shades of white, pink, red and peach. They bear six long stamens with anthers loaded with rusty-orange pollen that stain clothing and skin. When cutting them for flower arrangements gently pull off their anthers before arranging - but don’t forget to wear gloves. Stems originate from plump bulbs made up of scales. Green strap-like leaves grow up and surround the stem.
Oriental vs Asiatic Lilies: Compared to common Asiatic lilies, Oriental lilies are on steroids. They flower in August, not July and have longer, wider green leaves. To add to their exotic allure, their perfume is heavenly and more intense.
Stargazer lilies are a popular oriental lily series grown and loved by many. The ‘Stargazers’ are so called because their flowers resemble stars that appear to look upwards towards the sky. Their huge fragrant flowers are over 6 inches wide on stems up to 3 feet tall. They are knock-outs and easy to find, hence their popularity.
Where to Plant: Lilies need 6 to 8 hours of full sun a day. Flowering is compromised and stems spindly if it’s too shady. Lily bulbs are prone to rotting in wet soil so select a site with good drainage. To improve all soils, mix in lots of compost. Other options include plant in containers or raised beds. Despite the need for good drainage, lilies dislike dry soil so mix in a few inches of compost and add mulch to keep in soil moisture. The best time to plant lily bulbs is in early fall. By spring, they will have established a good root system.
Planting Lilies: To plant lilies, mix in a couple of inches of compost to the soil. Loosen the soil to a depth of 10 to 12 inches. Make a hole three times deeper as the height of the bulb. Add bonemeal according to the instructions. Place the bulb firmly in the hole pointed end up. Deep planting helps stabilize their tall stems and insulates the bulb from temperature extremes. Space bulbs 8 to 18 inches apart in odd numbered groups (3, 5, 9, 12). Label, mulch with 3 inches of an organic mulch and water.
Maintenance: Water in summer and mulch. Don’t let the soil dry out. The height of oriental lilies depends on the variety and/or cultivar. For tall varieties, staking maybe necessary. Remove spent flowers before they set seed. Keep the remaining stems intact as they provide food to produce next year’s blossoms. Cut yellow stems off in autumn or spring. To protect plants in winter, cover with 4 to 6 inches of an organic mulch. Remove the mulch gradually when lilies shoots appear in spring.