Horticulture Magazine

8 Types Of Lilies For A Beautiful Garden

close up of a white trumpet lily

Delicately elegant and effortlessly beautiful, lilies are one of the most recognisable flowers in the world.

They’ll be right at home in any style of garden, whether it’s a country cottage or something more modern and contemporary.

Lilies are often regarded as a little old fashioned but, thanks to thousands of hybrid varieties that see them blooming in every imaginable colour with their own unique fragrances, they’re making a comeback in a big way.

lilies in various colours growing in a beautiful garden

Lilies are also suitable for any garden size as they can be grown in the open ground or pots, meaning you can include them in even the most compact space.

Easy to grow and maintain, lilies are extremely rewarding and are the perfect way to add a boost of beauty and colour to your garden.

What are lilies?

Lilies are herbaceous flowering plants that are grown from bulbs and known for their large, showy flowers.

red lilies in the foreground with a ladder in the background

This plant features heavily in various cultures and religions, where their symbolism plays a prominent role:

  • In Greece, lilies are said to symbolise rebirth and motherhood. [source]
  • In China, they are frequently used for displays in weddings as they are believed to be tied to good luck and one hundred years of love. [source]
  • In Christianity, meanwhile, lilies are known to connect with the virgin Mary. [source]

Whether you believe in the symbolism of the lily, or just enjoy their gorgeous aesthetic, they’re an undeniably excellent addition to any garden.

Types of lilies for a beautiful garden

Now that you’ve decided that your garden deserves the unquestionable beauty of lilies, it’s time to determine which ones are for you.

With so many varieties to choose from this can be a daunting task, so we’ve done the hard work for you.

We have separated the lilies into eight divisions and picked out our favourite type within each division – as well as many further choices (with an image for each!).

1) Asiatic lilies

Bred from several different types of lilies, these hybrids provide the earliest lily bloom.

Although they do not have a fragrance and their flowers tend to be smaller, they do sport three to six flowers per stem in a vast range of colours.

orange asiatic lilies

Their petals are often spotted and come in shades of white, yellow, red and orange.

They boast strong, straight stems and, if planted in full sunlight, will rarely require staking.

They also make long-lasting cut flowers and are a popular choice for wedding bouquets.

Their lack of fragrance means that they won’t disrupt the scent of the perfume that a bride may be wearing.

Our Favourite Asiatic: Lilium grand cru

Bright yellow Lilium grand cru growing in a field
Brighten up your garden with the gorgeous Lilium grand cru

This variety of lily is a gorgeous, upwards facing plant with bright yellow, wide-open flowers.

The grand cru blooms from early to mid-summer and is ideal as a border plant, providing a showy blast of colour which will contrast nicely with perennial plants.

Growing up to four feet in height, this plant is beloved by bees and easy to grow and maintain.

This variety will also grow reliably in containers so are perfect even within a smaller garden.

More Asiatic Lilies

Pink Giant Tiger Lily
pink giant tiger lilies in bloom
Fata Morgana
yellow fata morgana flowers
Apricot Fudge
upright stems of apricot fudge flowers in bloom
Must See
must see asiatic lily blooms in orange and yellow with small speckles
stargazer lilies with green leaves, pink and white flowers
elodie lily blooms in light pink
eyeliner flowers in white with a dark red border
lollypop lilies in white and red
Yellow Bruse
flowering yellow bruse blooms covered in rainwater with garden setting in background
single levi lily flowering with a green foliage background
Friso Tree
double friso tree lily in pink and white
Black Pearl
dark coloured blooms of black pearl lilies

2) Oriental lilies

If you are looking to fill your garden with fragrance, then oriental lilies are the way to go.

Their pretty perfume is most prevalent in the evenings and is the perfect companion for balmy evenings when you sit out on your patio or decking.

white oriental lilies

This variety produces broad leaves and large exotic flowers, blooming in shades of pink, purple, white and yellow.

Oriental lilies are known for their big, flamboyant personalities and bloom for an extended period of time between mid to late summer and often right through into autumn.

Our Favourite Oriental: Lilium starlight express

close up of a starlight express lily
A starlight express lily in all its splendour

This eye-catching and fragrant plant is a real showstopper with up to fifteen fabulous flowers per stem.

Best grown in full sunshine this is a truly rewarding plant and is ideal for adding glorious splashes of colour to your borders.

This variety is incredibly easy to grow and care for, and the colour and scent can transform your garden.

They are also perfect for container growing and make excellent fresh cut flowers.

More Oriental Lilies

upright casablanca plant with white blooms
Big Smile
lilium big smile
Big Brother
lilium big brother with light beige colouring
Polar Star
pink polar star lily flower up close
oriental lilium dizzy flowers in white and pink
aisha lilies in a pure white colour
many companion lilies in different shades of pink
Exotic Sun
lilium exotic sun in light yellow
lilium kaveri flowers
multiple marlon lilies up close
flowering petrolia lilium with orange stamen and pink petals
sorbonne lily

3) Orienpet lilies

Crossed between oriental hybrids and trumpet lilies, orienpet lilies are the perfect variety for your summer garden.

Flowering initially into a trumpet shape, over time they open up to a broad, open bloom, up to ten inches across.

upright orienpet lilies

Blooming in shades of deep purple, pink, red, orange and white their flowers are heavily scented, and the plants can grow up to three feet in height.

Our Favourite Orienpet: Lilium black beauty

black lily flower with backdrop of garden
Blooming black beauty

The lilium black beauty is a truly spectacular garden plant and is extraordinarily vigorous.

Its deep crimson flowers are embellished with thin white margins which bloom in mid-late summer.

Best planted in full sun or partial shade, this lily will thrive in fertile, acidic, well-drained soil.

They are resistant to disease, and much more tolerant to heat, cold and drought than many other varieties.

These factors combine to give this variety a reputation as a real break-through in lily breeding. 

More Orienpet Lilies

an Anastasia lily up close
stunning Amaryllis belladonna flowers in pink and white
a single flashpoint lily with more ready to bloom in background
white and pink nymph flowers
Robert Swanson
robert swanson lily variety in a garden border
Scheherazade lily with incredibly long stamen

4) Trumpet lilies

Known also as Aurelian lilies, this variety is prolific in appearance and colour, and are also gloriously fragrant.

Named for its triumphant, trumpet-shaped flowers, this variety comes in shades of pink, yellow, orange, cream and white.

white trumpet lilies with orange stamen and a pale wall in the background

They are magnificently tall, easy to grow and can produce up to fifteen blooms per stalk.

They have an exceptionally long flowering period and are perfect for perennial borders.

Our Favourite Trumpet: Lilium African queen

african lily flowers in focus with greenery in background
The queen of the lilies

Delightfully fragrant the lilium African queen certainly deserves its royal title.

It’s large, apricot coloured trumpets give it a real sense of ceremony and the outer petals boast a beautiful burgundy colour, creating an air of luxury.

This glorious lily is celebrated for its sensational scent and its magnificent aesthetics.

Growing up to six feet in height, this easy to grow lily performs best in full sun or partial shade and, despite its grand name, is not fussy about soil types.

Plant in spring or autumn and you will be rewarded with a sensationally striking display.

More Trumpet Lilies

White Planet
close up of white planet lily and its orange stamen
regale lilium
singular lilium bellsong flower in light pink and white
Pink Perfection
pink perfection flowers
Golden Splendor
two golden splendor lilies held up by bamboo and with garden in the background
easter lilies in white
Regale ‘Album’
regale variety 'album' flowers growing in a park

5) Canada lilies

This North American native variety of lily is blessed with beautiful yellow or orange petals and can grow up to four feet in height.

With each stalk producing up to eight leaves per stem and up to twenty gorgeous flowers, this variety has become a firm favourite among gardeners.

yellow canada lilies

Best suited to woodland gardens, Canada lilies will thrive in meadow-like areas.

It is worth noting, however, that while they are well-loved by gardeners, they are equally adored by rabbits and deer.

If you live in a countryside setting this might not be the ideal lily variety for you.

Wild yellow lilies

bright wild yellow lilies in bloom
Introduce the true colour of summer to your garden

Sporting bright, fresh yellow blooms with adorable black spots, this is one of the most charming varieties of lily.

That said, whilst it is easy to plant, you may end up waiting up to five years for them to come into bloom.

Most Canada lilies are best grown from bulbs and prefer full sun or partial shade in slightly acidic soil.

These delightful plants add charm and whimsy to your garden and bring with it the true colour of summer.

6) Longiflorum lilies

Typically known as Easter lilies, longiflorums are encouraged to bloom out of season by exposing the bulbs to the right conditions.

With their trumpet-like shape and scented white blooms, this variety requires a little more expertise, but are well worth the patience.

deep red longiflorum lilies

After enjoying their beautiful bloom, you should introduce the bulbs into your garden where they will enjoy full sunshine and well-drained soil.

Our Favourite Longiflorum: Elegant lady

pink trumpets blooming in a garden
Elegant by name, elegant by nature

Also known as pink easter lilies this sweetly scented plant is a joy to include in any garden.

With their delicate pink petals that transcend into dusky, pink centres, these are a pleasure to behold.

This variety is outstanding for attracting bees and butterflies, and other vital pollinators and are a perfect accompaniment to borders or patio containers.

Choose a sheltered position in moist soil and watch this beauty thrive and breathe life into your garden.

More Longiflorum Lilies

white vuvuzela lily

7) Longiflorum Asiatic “LA” hybrid lilies

Created from a combination of Asiatic and Easter lilies, this variety is the real “showgirl” of the bunch.

LA hybrid lilies in pink and white

What they lack in fragrance they make up for in colour, with pinks and yellows, creams and whites and almost everything in between.

These lilies are an exciting crossbreed of Asiatic and Easter lilies and perform well in gardens thanks to how quickly they multiply.

Our Favourite LA Hybrid: Lilium Kentucky

leopard flower in focus with green foliage in background
A taste of the exotic

With their burnt orange complexion, sprinkled with a shower of burgundy spots, the Kentucky lily is striking to behold.

Like most lilies, this variety also favours full sun to partial shade and will bring a vibrant boost to your garden.

If you are keen to add a taste of the exotic to your garden, then the Kentucky lily is just what the doctor ordered.

With its leopard-like patterns and colours to die for, this plant will be a focal point of your garden and will truly bring it to life.

More LA Hybrid Lilies

tall brindisi lilies in light pink
Forza Red
forza red hybrid lily with daisies in the background
courier lilium in various colours
Royal Sunset
royal sunset lillies
close up of red corallo lily flower
Golden Tycoon
outstretched petals of golden tycoon lilium
Indian Diamond
indian diamond lily in bright orange colour with purple and green foliage in background
Pink Brush
pink brush lilies

Turk’s cap lilies

Last, but certainly not least, the Turk’s cap lily is easily recognisable by its lovely, butterfly-like blooms which dangle gracefully down its stalks.

closeup of pink and white turk's cap lilies in bloom

Blossoming in colours of pink, purple, orange and red, Turk’s cap lilies are the perfect way to add a little romance into your garden.

Our Favourite Turk’s Cap: Martagon lily

purple martagon lilies in summer sunshine
Beautiful and balletic

Martagon lilies can grow up to nine feet in height and are the perfect way to add towering colour, texture and structure to your garden.

This variety requires rich soil, and though they prefer full sun, they will still do well in dappled shade.

This lily’s gorgeous flowers give the impression of dancing ballerinas and bring a sense of serenity and peace to any garden.

More Turk’s Cap Lilies

Lady Alice
lady alice lilium with its distinctively long stamen and whitish-orange colour
henry turk's cap lily in focus
Scheherazade (again!)
Scheherazade lilies in a garden
Speciosum Uchida
singular Speciosum Uchida in a dark pink colour
Martagon ‘Arabian Night’
double Martagon 'Arabian Night' flowers
Martagon ‘Orange Marmalade’
bunched Martagon 'Arabian Night' flowers with blurred background

Let loose with lilies

By now you should know all you need to know about the abundance of lily varieties and the many shades and colours they can provide to your garden.

Lilies are surprisingly easy to grow and contribute significantly to your garden’s personality.

With so many options to choose from, it’s easy to see that there is a perfect lily for any garden, no matter its size.

So let loose and start planting, and soon your garden will be filled with the exquisite beauty of lilies.

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