Choosing a variety of the 80 or so species and several hundred cultivars of lilies (Lilium species) can provide stunning color to any garden or border during most of the summer season. Lilies are available in white, yellow, red, pink, orange, maroon and bi-colors and can range in height from 2 to 8 feet.
To choose the proper lily for specific gardening zones, look on the package or heed the recommended hardiness zones when ordering. An excellent source of information on choosing correct plants for the local climate is to search the internet for the website of a state university in your area.
In addition to adding beauty to outdoor gardens, many lilies make great cut flowers and are popular as the center flowers in floral bouquets because of their height and long-lasting color.
Asiatic and Oriental lilies are the two most popular types of lilies for northern gardens, according to University of Minnesota information which reminds gardeners that “lilies provide an easy to grow, colorful addition to your garden and landscape.”
By choosing a combination of early, mid-season, and late-blooming lilies, gardeners can be rewarded with flowers from mid-June through mid-September in northern gardens and earlier blooms in southern gardens.
Lilies need well-drained soil in an area that receives sun or part shade, according to information published by Clemson University. "The ideal situation will place the lily flowers and leaves in sun while shading their roots."
Lilies need to be kept moist and can be planted either in the fall or spring, whenever the bulbs are available. They should be planted between 6 to 10 inches apart. Most lilies should be covered with 4 to 6 inches of soil but specific recommendations for the cultivar should be followed.
Because lilies can grow very tall, some may need staked and protected from high winds. Depending on the gardening zone, mulch may need to be applied to keep lily roots cool.
Remove blooms when they die to prevent seed pod formation and cut stems off at ground level only after they turn brown to prepare the bulbs for the next growing season. Many lily bulbs can be left in the ground over the winter but check specific recommendations for each type to assure the bulbs will not be damaged by winter weather.
An investment in lily bulbs can be an economical way to provide color to flower gardens for many years. If the bulbs become too crowded, they can be divided and moved to other areas or shared with family and friends.