Asiatic Lilies

orange asian lily

Asiatic lilies, of the genus Lilium, are easy, early, and gorgeous. There are so many varieties that offer a burst of color with upturned lily flowers for June gardens, and provide the perfect contrast to roses or as a focal point on their own.

One of the first lilies I grew was the ‘Enchantment’ lily with bright orange blooms. A trouble free lily, it actually blended quite well with coral roses and blue flax. Later, a large number of Asiatic lilies in the golden yellow hue joined my garden here in the country.

They are hardy, dependable and give a splash of summer color with their companion feverfew, which echoes the bright yellow in the disc of the small daisy flowers.

yellow Asian lily

abundant blooms

It is easy to like flowers that thrive with a minimum of trouble. Once recognized for their upfacing vase shaped flowers, they are now hybridized to produce some of the most alluring turban-shaped blooms, recurved and spotted delicately. the colors range from citrus to candy colored roses and pinks. Try ‘Ariadne’ or ‘Iowa Rose’.

These lilies bloom early to late June. Asiatic types tend to be shorter, in the mid size range of plants for a garden border, usually 3-4 feet (sometimes to 5 ft.). Of all the lilies these are the most cold hardy, grown even in zones 1 and 2 with mulch protection. They are completely reliable here in Zone 5.

How to Plant Lilies

  • Plant soon after purchase
  • Plant deep, 3 times deeper than the size of the bulb
  • Good drainage is a requirement
  • Regular moisture, and not too dry, with additional organic matter
  • I like to add bonemeal to all bulbs when planting
  • Like clematis, which they could be grown with, the lily likes feet in the shade and heads in the sun. Eastern exposures are good– but Asiatics are not picky.
  • Like tulips, they look best in a group, not lined up like soldiers.

Lily Propagation

  • Lifting and dividing the smaller bulbs for new plants
  • Little bulblets that form on the stems can be planted
  • Scales can be planted
  • Seeds


There are dwarf sizes and a new cross, “Asiapets” like their counterparts “Orientpets”. You have to see these flowers in person to appreciate how lush the colors and blooms are. The dwarf sizes make perfect cut flowers, but I don’t like them as well in a garden situation. They could be more useful for small gardens, or in windy situations. More on the Asiapet crosses.

As Cut Flowers

  • Long lasting vase life
  • Keep the flowers out of direct sunlight
  • Remove anthers to avoid pollen stains

Easy way to remove anthers:

How Do My Lilies Grow? My Own Garden Story square Arrange July’s Garden Around Lilies square

pink lily

softest pink

Try These Varieties

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white Asian lily

white Asian lilies

Design Tips for Lilies

Lilies grow on straight-legged stems; I like to see them with a bit of a skirt made up of billowy perennials, like Campanulas, feverfew, or blue flax. Something which softens the transition between the burst of blooms on the straight stems and the ground of their garden bed.

Lilies love the sunshine and reach for it when grown too close to the house. They are more upright when given an area without a strong shadow on one side.

Daylilies and true lilies are just enough alike and enough different that they don’t complement each other very well. One always looks a bit at a disadvantage to the other. Since daylilies are more tolerant of shady areas, why not save them for such spaces, while the Lilium family gets the sunny ones?

Lilies make a wonderful focal point in the garden plans throughout the season if several types are chosen to stretch the bloomtimes. Start summer with the Asiatic lilies, proceed to the Trumpet and Longiflorum, and end with the Orientals. A rose and lily bed would be delightful for a very long season when combined in this way.
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