Lilies come in several different varieties with blooming times from midsummer through early fall. Plant some of each variety for a continuous supply of blooms throughout the growing season.
Although you can plant lily bulbs in spring, fall is the best time for planting as it gives them time to develop a strong root system before breaking into vegetative growth the following spring. Potted lilies in active growth can be planted in your garden at any time during the growing season.
Lilies are grown from bulbs with fleshy overlapping scales with no protective covering. Plant them soon after purchasing and don’t allow them to dry out.
Plant them in well drained soil in a site where water does not stand after rainfall. Dig down 12 inches and remove rocks. Add peat moss and compost to improve the soil and help with drainage. Add a little bone meal to the bottom of the hole according to the manufacturer’s recommended quantities and scratch it in with your garden claw.
A pleasing way to display lilies in the perennial garden is to plant them in groups of three or five bulbs, spacing the individual bulbs 8 to 12 inches apart. Space the groupings 3 to 5 feet apart. Small bulbs should be planted 2 to 4 inches deep and larger ones 4 to 6 inches deep, as measured from the top of the bulb up to the surface.
Spread an organic mulch like cocoa hulls over the bed. Just before the ground freezes for the winter, add a layer of protective mulch of evergreen boughs, hay, or fallen leaves.
Asiatic lilies start the lily season when they bloom around midsummer. The picture above is of Asiatic lilies blooming right now in Zone 4. Most types have flowers that face upward and have few markings on the petals. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
Trumpet lilies begin blooming at midsummer. They are named for their trumpet-shaped flowers and are hardy in Zones 5 to 9.
Tiger lilies bloom from midsummer on. They have freckled, pendulous blooms with petals that curve back on themselves. They multiply prolifically and will form large clumps in a few years. Each stem produces many flowers in warm colors from golden yellow, to orange, to red. Hardy in Zones 3 to 9.
Rubrum lilies bloom in late summer to early fall. They resemble Tiger lilies but come in cool colors from white to deep pink. Their blooms are sweetly fragrant. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
Oriental lilies start blooming in late July with some varieties not coming into bloom until late August or September. They are intensely fragrant with flowers that are up to 10 inches across. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
Orienpet lilies are a cross between an Oriental and a Trumpet lily. They bloom from mid to late July into mid August and can reach eight feet high. Flowers come in both warm and cool shades, with some varieties extremely fragrant. They prefer dappled sunlight or morning sun with afternoon shade. Hardy in Zones 4 to 9.
Plant a variety of lilies so you have a continuous supply of blooms from midsummer through fall.