Lily bulbs are fleshy and softer than traditional spring bulbs, like tulip or daffodil. Try to plant lily bulbs as soon as possible after purchasing because they’re prone to drying out. It’s safe to plant lily bulbs in fall or spring in all regions. Many gardeners wait and tuck potted Easter lilies into the garden after the spring holiday.
Lily bulbs lack an outer protective, papery layer. They’re often sold packed in sawdust or peat moss. It’s important to store lily bulbs correctly prior to planting because they have no outer layer that helps protect against moisture loss or temperature fluctuations. Keep lily bulbs cool (below 45 degrees F) but not freezing to help prevent sprouting. If sprouts form prior to planting, handle bulbs carefully. If you break the sprout, the lily won’t flower that year.
Beautiful blooms of calla lily (Zantedeschia) are a cut flower favorite that thrives in a boggy environment. Many gardeners tuck calla lily into a spot beside a pond or stream. Plants can grow in up to 1 foot of water. In cold regions, dig bulbs and store dry indoors through winter. Look for varieties that open flowers in many hues, including vibrant yellow, deep red, white and pastel shades. Plants grow 2 to 3 feet tall by 2 feet wide. Hardy in Zones 9-10.
Available in orange, pink, bicolors, salmon, purple or yellow, calla lilies are easy to grow houseplants. White callas are lovely in Christmas-red containers, and stay in bloom a long time. They're tropicals, so wait until all frost has passed if you want to transplant them into your garden. They'll thrive in a sunny spot in slightly moist, organic-rich soil, but will require repotting and bringing indoors before the first fall frost. If you prefer, you can let the bulbs go dormant and store them in a cool, dry, dark place until you're ready to replant next spring.
Easter lilies make fantastic cut flowers, infusing every bouquet with a rich floral perfume. This lily variety is ‘White Heaven,’ which growers 24 to 36 inches tall, forming long stems perfect for cutting and adding to bouquets. Flowers appear in early summer. The botanic name for Easter lily is Lilium longiflorum.
Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum) is a popular spring potted plant, but it also makes a fantastic addition to a perennial border, white garden or cutting garden. Most Easter lily hybrids grow to 36 inches tall. Mature, healthy plants can open 12 to 15 flowers. This variety is 'White American.'
The deep crimson color of the 'Aflame' water lily — also known as 'Escarboucle' — gives ponds or pools exotic flair. During summer, the leaves of water lilies provide much-needed shade for water critters.
Oriental lilies are showstoppers in the summer garden, opening richly colored and intensely fragrant blooms. Flowers appear from mid- to late summer and can linger for a few weeks. Oriental lilies grow from bulbs, which are best planted in fall in colder zones. Lily stems grow 24 to 48 inches tall and usually benefit from staking. Plants often spread over time to form a clump from 12 to 36 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 3-9. Good vase companions for Oriental lily: hosta or baptisia leaves, ribbon grass, garden phlox or bee balm.
‘Stargazer’ Oriental lily unfurls large blooms that exude a rich perfume. Petals are deep pink with a white edge. Oriental lily grows from a bulb that can be planted in fall or spring. Top-heavy stems grow to 3 feet and benefit from staking. Add stakes at planting time to help avoid spearing bulbs. Flowers appear in midsummer and can scent an entire yard on a steamy summer evening. Grow Oriental lilies in planting beds or containers. Hardy in Zones 3-9.
Trouble-free and beautiful, Japanese toad lily (Tricyrtis hirta) opens exquisite orchid-like blooms in late summer through early fall. Flowers measure 1 inch across and feature a white or lavender background with deep purple dots. On mature plants, stems are literally covered with blossoms. Toad lily spreads easily to form a colony. Site it in a shady spot (part to full shade) with moist soil. Plants grow 24 to 36 inches tall and 18 to 24 inches wide. Hardy in Zones 4-8.
The trick with storing rhizomes over winter is not letting them dry out. To store rhizomes, place them in barely damp peat moss and keep them at 50 degrees F for callas; 60 to 70 degrees F for cannas. Check the rhizomes one to two times over winter to make sure they aren’t rotting (too wet) or shriveling (too dry). In spring, many rhizomes in storage start to sprout, like these calla lily rhizomes. Take care not to break these sprouts prior to or during planting, or you'll diminish the flower show.
‘Snow Queen’ lily is an Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum) hybrid that grows 24 to 36 inches tall. In the landscape, plant bulbs 18 to 24 inches apart. In a container, you can plant them closer to create a fragrant hedge of snowy blooms. Flowers typically appear in late spring to early summer.
Easter lilies pair beautifully with roses, filling a garden with rich floral fragrance. Lily stems can be top heavy with those trumpet-shape flowers. Instead of using stakes to keep stems upright, consider planting them behind a neatly trimmed boxwood hedge for natural support. The botanic name for Easter lily is Lilium longiflorum. This variety is 'White Heaven.'