Hardy Garden Lilies for Northern Illinois

The thing to know about Lilies they do not like to stand in water so if your area is wet, mix in some organic matter. Each hybrid bulb produces eight to a dozen flowers up to eight inches across on a six-foot stem. Unlike other bulbs, they do not go dormant after blooming, so cut them back in the fall once the stem has dried. I do cut off the top part of the stem once they are bloomed, so as not to allow seed production. But I do leave the rest (1/3) of the stem intact until the fall, as it is the stem that nourishes the bulb for next year’s blooms.

Dividing Bulbs

Divide your plants at least every 4 years in the fall or they will slowly stop producing blooms. In the spring the stems are very tender so be careful as they poke through the ground. I speak from experience. They don’t like their leaves wet, but that’s hard to avoid when watering. They look best when planted in mass if the buds are subject to frost, like mine were in 2009 and they suffer frost, they will turn brown and not re-bud. You have to wait until the following year to see a bloom…oh shucks.

Blooming Times

Because varieties bloom at different time, why not stagger the plantings and always have them blooming. These plants are much like the Clematis Vine. They like cool feet and a warm top. Planting a groundcover works well (or using mulch.) Unfortunately some of the taller varieties will require staking.


I like to use the green bamboo sticks and soft floral tapestry using MYKE a growth supplement. It works wonders.
DID YOU KNOW…that the pollen stains clothing. If using as cut flowers or in bouquets, pull off the orange stamens with your fingers with a tissue (or gloves) or use a pair of scissors. If you hang your clothing in full sun, the stain from the pollen will slowly go away. Fertilize with a 20-20-20 at least once a month. I add bone meal every spring to all of my perennials that lilies are one of the most long lasting cut flowers? Most bloom in a variety of impressive colors and require little care.


Asiatic Lily
The most common is the Asiatic, which typically grows 1 1/2 feet to 5 feet tall. They have large trumpet like blooms usually around 4″ to 6″ wide and most face upwards. Unfortunately, these pretty lilies have no fragrance. They do best in full sun.
Martagon Lily

The Martagon or Turk’s Cap has its own following. The name comes from a Turkish word for a type of turban. Their blooms about 1-2 inches across are smaller and face downwards with the petals curled back towards the stem. They grow 2 feet to 4 feet. These lilies bloom sooner than others and can have many, many blooms on one stem. Colors are normally shades of pink, orange, white and maroon. They prefer a part sun exposure.
Oriental Lily
The Oriental Lily has open-faced blooms with wide petals and blooms in mid to white-lily-growing-near-Chicagolate summer. These lilies are very fragrant with a spicy scent. Flowers may face up, down or outward. The colors range from white to deep pink.
Planting Lilies
Remember that the above are true lilies and do not have roots in the sense like the Daylilies. They are bulbs. The bulbs can be planted in the fall or spring, and if you purchase container grown ones (like I do), they can be planted any time. Depth for bulbs: 3 times the length of the bulb and the pointed end must be up or the bulb will not grow properly.
For containers grown, dig a hole as large as the container. Gently take out the plant and work the soil around the bottom with your fingers. Set the plant in the hole and work the soil back around the plant. Tap down gently to make sure the soil and plant is firmly in place.
REMEMBER: to add a small handful of bone meal to the hole for bulbs or container grown. Water well until established. They do not like to dry out.
Varieties I planted:
Asiatic Lily Butter Pixie, Asiatic Lily Crimson Pixie, Asiatic White Endless Love


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