Sumpin Important About Lilies

Steve Bender
Now listen up all y'all

It has always been Grumpy’s goal to learn y’all sumpin when sumpin needs being learned. My recent post about daylilies revealed that sumpin. Many of y’all think lilies and daylilies are the same. That ain’t right.

Lots of things are called lilies—daylily, Easter lily, tiger lily, spider lily, crinum lily, ginger lily, foxtail lily, rain lily, voodoo lily, lily-of-the-valley, lily-of-the-Nile, and Lily Tomlin. But there is only one true lily, and to be that, it must belong to the genus Lilium. Those pretty orange-and-yellow flowers you see at the top do. They’re Lilium kaveri, a cross between Oriental and Asiatic lilies, growing in my garden.

True lilies abound, both in number of species and a plethora of hybrids. Besides Oriental lilies (hybrids mostly from Japan) and Asiatic lilies (hybrids mostly from China), you’ll find Easter lily (L. longiflorum), tiger lily (L. lancifolium), turk’s cap lily (L. martagon), Formosa lily (L. formosanum), regal lily (L. regale), and others. Depending on the type, the flowers may be burgundy, red, orange, yellow, pink, white, and bicolored, sometimes with bands or spots. Many are heavenly scented and make great cut flowers.

Steve Bender

The flower above is not a lily. It is a daylily and belongs to the genus Hemerocallis. Yes, the flowers resemble each other and both bloom in summer, but if you’ll remember the following points, you’ll never confuse them again.

  • True lies grow from bulbs. Daylilies grow from fleshy roots.
  • True lily flowers last up to a week. Daylily flowers (as the name implies) last but a single day.
  • True lily flowers are usually fragrant. Daylily flowers are usually not.
  • The same stalk holds leaves and flowers of true lilies. Daylily leaves and flower stalks are separate.

WATCH: Here's Everything You Should Know About Daylilies

How to Grow Lilies

Except for stalwarts like tiger lily and Formosa lily, lilies need a little more care than daylilies. Plant bulbs in fall or spring as soon as they’re available at garden centers. To thrive, they need full sun and moist, well-drained soil that contains a good bit of organic matter. Plant bulbs about three times deeper than their height with the pointed ends pointed up. When the plants reach about six inches tall in spring, feed them with bulb fertilizer at the rate specified on the label. After the flowers drop, don’t cut back the foliage until it turns yellow.

OK, I think we’ve all learned sumpin important today. Lilies and daylilies are different.

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