Liliums have a great diversity of shapes, colours, sizes and types that have made them extremely popular with most gardeners who have at least a few growing either in the open or in containers.
The most recognised of all the lilies is the celebrated Lilium candidum, the Madonna or Christmas lily with its 180cm-high stems adorned with up to 20 pure white trumpet-shaped flowers.
When in full bloom it's easy to see why this gorgeous lily has been revered for its perfume, grace and beauty for over 3000 years.
From the simplicity of L. candidum to the boldness of two new liliums in L. 'Dark Charm', a deep burgundy almost-black-flowered Asiatic and L. 'Apricot Fudge' a double Longiflorum Asiaticlilium that produces upright-facing flowers resembling an opening rose bud. See the exciting new varieties of liliums at the North West lilium show, Latrobe on January 25 and 26.
In general, the long flowering season begins with the Asiatics in late October followed by the trumpets blooming around the end of December to the Orientals from January to March with some species flowering into autumn.
The most popular types grown in our gardens include Oriental, Asiatic, trumpet and Longiflorum, plus hybrids such as Longiflorum/Asiatic and Oriental/trumpet and the species.
Orientals often have very dramatic, wavy petals, with a nice perfume and are popular as cut flowers while Asiatics have multiple, non-fragrant flowers on each stem in rich and varied colours. Longiflorum or trumpet types make excellent cut flowers with a delightful fragrance.
Longiflorum Asiatics are a hybrid of the Longiflorum and Asiatic types, often referred to as LAs, which produce a larger Asiatic-style flower with the added stem length of the Longiflorum.
Oriental/trumpet or Orienpets are a cross between oriental and trumpet lilies to increase vigour, disease resistance and tolerance to heat and drought conditions resulting in the most notable L. 'Black Beauty'.
Species can have from 20 to 50 florets on a stem. One such plant is L. martagon, 'Turk's cap', with its distinctive, swept-back petals. Martagons come in colours of orange, pink, purple, yellow, red and white. Lilium pumilum is a dwarf form with striking scarlet flowers.
The hybrids combine colours into a dazzling range. An example of a hybrid is the aurelian which was bred by crossing L. henryi with the trumpet L. sargentiae.
This strain of hybrids comes in a wide range of colours and shapes from trumpets to slightly reflexed star-shaped flowers from white through lemon, gold and apricot and are valued for their 'garden growability' quality which is an important trait in any plant.
A deep, fertile, friable, well-drained soil is a must for growing these beautiful lilies with drainage being of the utmost importance. Add humus if necessary in sandy and heavy soils to provide aeration to facilitate good drainage. Liliums enjoy the same acidic soils as azaleas and rhododendrons.
Low-growing shrubs or shallow-rooted perennials are ideal growing companions for liliums as they provide a cool, moist root run, allow the stems to grow though them for support and help keep their heads in the light while affording shade from the hot afternoon sun.
January 15: Launceston Horticultural Society, Windmill Hill Hall, High Street, Launceston, 8pm.
Les Hodge will speak on planning annual displays.
January 25, 26: North West Tasmanian Lilium Society show, Latrobe Memorial Hall. Saturday 1-4pm, Sunday 10am-4pm.
The show features demonstrations, hybridising, seed growing, plant sales, free advice and a display of amazing new lilies from America. Admission adults $4.