Differences of Lilies
The ancient peoples believed that lilies were the tokens of fertility and a pure life. Their flowers were offered to gods to appease them. The flower has been cultivated for over three thousand years. Feng Shui believers consider the lily to be an emblem of summer and prosperity; in China lily stands for “Forever in love”.
The plants are in the genus of lillium and are divided into six major categories: Asiatic, Oriental, longiflorum x Asiatic, Tiger, Trumpet, and Orienpet. Many of the lillium family have been cross breeded (such as Orientals with Trumpets now known as Orienpets) developing into some of the most unique and colorful lilies to date! And due to their differences in bloom periods, you can have the plants blooming as early as mid-May through late August and in some cases, into September.
Longiflorum Asiatic Lilies
Distinguished by a subtle, sweet scent and big, funnel-shaped blossoms that display a multitude of colors and sizes. They are an Asiatic or Asian lily. The longiflorum x Asiatic category, is also available in apricot shades having just a light smell.
Asian or Asiatic Lilies (Common and Hybrids)
Asiatic lily is distinguished by smaller blooms and is less odorous in a vast range of shades and colors, which makes them appealing for allergic suffers. They are well known for their early bloom period, strong stems, forcing ability, and long lasting blooms.
In comparison with Asiatic species, the Oriental lily’s flower is larger and it has stronger fragrance. These blooms may be met in fewer shades and colors, however many new hybrid colors are coming onto the scene giving a much wider color selection. There are many sizes to the Orientals ranging from 14 inches to as tall as 46 inches.
The Orienpet lillium’s flower and size is quite unique. They are a cross between Orientals and Trumpet Lilies, making their blooms and height (some can grow to 7 feet or taller) the largest in the lillium class. They are also the strongest scented of all the lilies and in some cases have been known to bloom into September. Orienpet lilies offer some of the widest array of color due to their ability to hybridize very well.
Trumpet lillies are unique within themselves. When emerging and in full bloom, they appear trumpet like and are very fragrant. One of the oldest is Regale and has it’s origin from China (as do many others). They are very fragrant and will bloom as early as mid June through mid August. Height can range from 30 inches to as tall as 60 inches or more.
Tiger lilies are perhaps the oldest and best known of the lillium family. They get their name from the many spots that appear on the bloom resembling spots on a tiger. Their bloom opens into a “fan” like appearance then folds back exposing its’ full beauty for the final act. In some instances, they have been known to bloom as early as June and as late as mid-September, are known to naturalize extremely well, and are prolific bloomers with some fragrance. Specifically, Lillium lancifolium (along with many others) is cultivated in Asia for their edible buds and for ornamental plants.