True lilies belong to a genus of flowering plants called Lilium. They grow from bulbs and have large prominent flowers. They are native to the Northern Hemisphere but some specific types of lily can be found in the northern subtropics. Lilies are classified into various types based on their parentage and on the shape of their flower. The classifications are called Horticultural Divisions and there are nine divisions of lily.
Division 1: Asiatic Hybrids
These flower between June and July and are known to include the broadest range of colors in the genus of Lilium. If you find a lily which is scented, it is likely to be from this division as it contains most of the scented lilies. They grow especially well in locations where there is a lot of sun, but they can be planted almost anywhere.
Division 2: Martagon Hybrids
These lilies bloom early and relatively easily. Their flower petals curl all the way back, revealing prominent stamens and stigmas. The petals have pretty freckles across their surface. This is another colorful division. The most popular colors found include light orange, yellow, lavender, pink, white and dark red. One type of martagon, called L. martagon album has no speckles at all and the petals are pure white. They do not grow well in hot or humid environments.
Division 3: Candidum Hybrids
This is a rare division and they are not easily found in nature or in the shops. They are mostly European.
Division 4: American Hybrids
These are found in North America and include the
- L. pardalinum and L. columbianum found on the West coast, the
- L. superbum, L. philadelphicum and L. canadense, found on the East coast
- L. michauxii, L. iridollae and L. michiganense found in the middle States,
- L. grayi and L. catesbaei found in the South
They grow taller than the other forms and tend to grow in clumps.
Division 5: Longiflorum Hybrids
These are mostly elegant white trumpets and are commonly sold in stores as cut flowers. They are rarely found in gardens as they do not flourish particularly well in garden environments.
Division 6: Trumpet and Aurelian Hybrids
These grow tall and elegant. Trumpet lilies are usually most recognized by the general public as lilies. They are easier to grow than the previous longiforum hybrids due to their inherited hardiness. Colors include pure white, apricot, pink, yellow, plum, and gold. Some types even have green, brown or bright green backs. As the season moves on, trumpets start to blend in with the aurelians as they open up and curve out. However, the aurelians tend to bloom a bit later and have longer and more slender stems. Both are very easily grown from seeds in the garden.
Division 7: Oriental Hybrids
These beautiful exotic hybrids include L. auratum and L. speciosum L. speciosum, Rubrum lily, L. auratum var. platyphyllum and the Gold Band Lily. These have large outward facing flowers with tall stems. They are sometimes referred to as “star gazers,” because they tend to grow as if they are looking towards the sky.
Division 8: All Other Hybrids or Inter-divisional Hybrids
These hybrids have been developed using new technologies for cross breeding and include the LA hybrids, the OT hybrids and the OA hybrids.
- LA hybrids are obtained by crossing Asiatic varieties with Easter lily’s.
- OT hybrids are obtained by crossing Oriental Lilies with Trumpet and Aurelian varieties.
- OA hybrids are obtained by crossing Oriental lines with Asiatic varieties.
Some stunningly beautiful lilies can be found in this division.
Division 9: Species Lilies
Species lilies are wild lilies. They can be found especially in China, Burma and Japan and also across Europe and North America. It is this species of lilies which are cross pollinated in order to produce the hybrids described here.