14 Recommended Lily Varieties for Your Garden

easter lillies
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The lily has such a shining reputation in the gardening world that other flowers tend to borrow its name to boost their standing. However, neither the calla lily (Zantedeschia spp.) nor the daylily (Hemerocalis spp.) are true lilies. Only those plants officially categorized in the Lilium genus may rightly call themselves lilies. By planting a variety of lily types, you can achieve a parade of elegant lily blooms from spring until fall. 

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 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), Martagan 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.

Cats and Lilies Do Not Mix

The common Easter lily, the tiger lily, Asiatic and Oriental hybrid lilies all contain a toxin that can be fatal to cats, causing renal failure. All parts of the plants are poisonous to cats, but especially the flowers. This is particularly problematic with potted Easter lilies kept indoors where a house cat is present, but cats roaming outdoors can also be seriously poisoned by eating as few as two lily leaves. Dogs and most other animals are generally unaffected by the true lilies; in fact, feeding by rabbits is an ongoing problem with garden lilies. True lilies have little impact on humans, though some people may react with skin irritation to touching them. However, be aware that there are plants outside the Lilium genus, commonly called lilies, that are intensely poisonous to humans, including calla lily, peace lily, lily of the valley, and belladonna lily.

  • 01 of 14

    'Stargazer' Lily (Lilium 'Stargazer')

    Stargazer Lily
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    Today's gardeners are spoiled by the vast number of lilies with upward-facing flowers, but that was not a given during the 1970s. When breeder Leslie Woodriff developed the first Oriental lily to feature flowers that faced the heavens, the Stargazer cultivar took the gardening (and florist) world by storm. This stunner will perfume your entire garden in July, though a few people will find the aroma overwhelming.

    • Native Area: NA; this is an Oriental hybrid lily
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 9
    • Height: to 3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 02 of 14

    'Casa Blanca' Lily (Lilium 'Casa Blanca')

    Casablanca Lily
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    A grouping of fragrant 'Casa Blanca' lilies is a magnificent addition to the white flower garden. 'Casa Blanca' is an Oriental hybrid with substantial, waxy petals that stand out in cut flower arrangements; it is especially popular in bridal arrangements. Some staking or a sheltered planting site will protect long stems from snapping. It blooms with intensely aromatic flowers in mid to late summer.

    • Native Area: NA; this is an Oriental hybrid lily
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 8
    • Height: 3 to 4 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 03 of 14

    Turk's Cap Lily (Lilium martagon)

    Martagon Lily
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    Avant-garde gardeners who crave something different will find it in the Turk's cap lily, sometimes called a martagon lily. The stems bear many layers of flowers in a pagoda-like shape. They are more shade tolerant than most lilies, and also more sensitive to extreme heat. Plant martagon lilies in the fall in a location with excellent drainage. The plants are slow to establish and may not bloom the first season. In addition to the native species, there are a number of hybrids available, produced by crosses with other similar species.

    • Native Area: Asia, Europe
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Height: 3 to 6 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 04 of 14

    'Tiny Bee' Lily (Lilium 'Tiny Bee')

    Tiny Bee Lily
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    Small but mighty 'Tiny Bee' is dwarf Asiatic hybrid lily that will glow along path edges and in patio containers. 'Tiny Bee' is an excellent choice for windy areas where taller specimens tend to snap and break. It blooms in mid-summer.

    • Native Area: NA; this is an Asiatic hybrid lily
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Height: 12 to 14 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
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  • 05 of 14

    'Lollipop' Lily (Lilium 'Lollipop')

    Lollypop Asiatic Lily
    Michael Davis/Getty Images

    Two-toned Asiatic lilies like the Lollipop variety look best planted in masses of five, seven, or more to draw attention to their spectacular coloration. If you provide these lilies with rich, well-drained soil and consistent moisture, you can expect your investment of a few bulbs to grow into many plants over the years.

    • Native Area: NA; this is an Asiatic hybrid lily
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Height: 24 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 06 of 14

    Tiger Lily (Lilium lancifolium)

    Tiger Lilies
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    A long-lived and vigorous species lily, heirloom tiger lilies are perfect for those new to lily growing. Pendulous flowers bear many orange blooms with charming freckles in summer, and plants will spread and naturalize in damp locations. It blooms in mid to late summer.

    • Native Area: Asia; has also naturalized across eastern North America
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Height: 3 to 5 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 07 of 14

    Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum)

    Easter Lilies
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    Sometime in March, you may notice containers of beautiful white lilies popping up everywhere, not just in the garden center. The so-called Easter Lily, Lilium longiflorum, is a symbol of purity and rebirth for Christians, but it can grace your garden long after the Easter bunny has left the building. This is a true species lily, not a hybrid, but it has served as a parent species for a number of hybrid lilies in the trumpet category (it also is known as a trumpet lily). Plant them in a sunny spot in the garden that has good drainage. They may return for years, blooming in July and August when planted in the garden.

    • Native Area: Southern Japan, Taiwan, United States
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height: 2 to 3 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 08 of 14

    Regal Lily (Lilium regale)

    Regal Lily
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    Lilium regale bears trumpet-shaped white flowers similar to those you see on Easter lilies. However, unlike Easter lilies, the regal lily will grow considerably taller and needs support for its stems, which may bear two dozen 6-inch-long flowers each. It blooms in mid-summer.

    • Native Area: Southwestern China
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height: 3 to 5 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
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  • 09 of 14

    'Acapulco' Lily (Lilium 'Acupulco')

    Acapulco Oriental Lily
    Ron Evans/Getty Images

    A clear, bright pink lily, the 'Acapulco' hybrid Oriental lily will not disappoint gardeners who seek exotic perfumes in their summer landscapes. Be on the lookout for the lily leaf beetle, which can be a problem in some areas. If you have a small number of plants you can stop this red pest with determined handpicking. 'Acapulco' blooms in late summer.

    • Native Area: NA; this is an Oriental hybrid lily
    • USDA Growing Zones: 4 to 8
    • Height: 3 to 4 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 10 of 14

    'Elodie' Lily (Lilium 'Elodie')

    Elodie Pollen Free Lily
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    Some lilies are better suited for the cutting garden than others. With the 'Elodie' Asiatic hybrid, you get all the petals without the bothersome pollen that irritates noses and drifts onto tabletops. 'Elodie' blooms with pale pink flowers in early to mid-summer.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid Asiatic lily
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Height: 30 to 36 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun
  • 11 of 14

    'Robert Swanson' Lily (Lilium 'Robert Swanson')

    Robert Swanson Lily
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    'Robert Swanson' is sometimes described as an "Orientpet" lily since it is a cross between an Oriental hybrid and a trumpet lily. This yellow and red lily has enormous 7-inch flowers with recurved petals that bloom in mid- to late summer.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid lily
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5 to 9
    • Height: 4 to 5 feet
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 12 of 14

    'Luxor' Lily (Lilium 'Luxor')

    Luxor Lily
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    The gold and bronze tones of the 'Luxor' hybrid will make a splash in your summer garden, especially when planted with orange companion plants such as cosmos or butterfly weed. The flowers are yellow, heavily speckled with red interiors, blooming in mid-summer.

    Hybrid lilies like Luxor do not come true from seed, so propagate them by lifting the bulbs and peeling away baby bulblets, or peeling off bulb scales to replant.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid Asiatic lily
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 8
    • Height: 36 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
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  • 13 of 14

    'Tiny Double You' Lily (Lilium 'Tiny Double You')

    Tiny Double You Lily

    F.D. Richards/Flickr/CC BY 2.0

    Lilies are not off-limits to gardeners with small plots. A dwarf Asiatic lily like the 'Tiny Double You' cultivar will tuck into a few square feet in a sunny patch. Dwarf lilies have fewer leaves to sacrifice for cutting, so admire these beauties where they grow so plants have the energy to form new blossoms next season. 'Tiny Double You' has deep orange double flowers that bloom in mid-summer.

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid Asiatic lily
    • USDA Growing Zones: 2 to 9
    • Height: 12 to 14 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade
  • 14 of 14

    'Matrix' Lily (Lilium 'Matrix')

    Matrix Lily

    F.D. Richards/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0

    The intensely colored flowers of the 'Matrix' Asiatic hybrid lily are mesmerizing. With a high bud count of up to seven flowers per stem, you only need a few bulbs to create a focal point in the early summer landscape. It blooms in early to mid-summer. The petite stalks of 'Matrix' lilies are just right for the container garden

    • Native Area: NA; this is a hybrid Asiatic lily
    • USDA Growing Zones: 3 to 9
    • Height: 16 to 20 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to part shade

Tip

Lilies vary in their cold hardiness ratings, but if you are a cold-climate gardener who falls in love with a particular type of lily, you can grow a warm-season lily by treating them as annuals, planting fresh bulbs each spring. Or, you can dig up and overwinter cold-sensitive bulbs in a cool indoor location and replant them outdoors when the soil warms in spring.