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Rhonda J. Ferree

Rhonda J. Ferree
Former Extension Educator, Horticulture

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Rhonda Ferree's ILRiverHort

Rhonda Ferree's Horticulture Blog
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Lilies for your Garden

What is a lily? There are several different plants that go by or include lily in their name. Examples are day lily, resurrection lily, garden lily, trout lily, blackberry lily, or even lily of the valley. So which one is really a lily? Many people consider only the garden lily to be a true lily.

The garden lily (Lilium sp.) is similar in many ways to an Easter lily. It has an upright form that grows two to six feet tall. Flowers occur at the top of the stem and come in many colors of white, orange, scarlet, rose, pink, or yellow. Most common are the hybrid lilies, which have literally hundreds of lily selections. Lily family

Daylilies (Hemerocallis sp.) are probably more popular. They have long linear leaves that occur in clumps from 12 inches to four feet tall. Flowers occur on leafless stems called a scape. Flowers can be obtained in almost any color of the rainbow and generally last one day. Again there are literally thousands of cultivars for the daylily fancier to choose. Lily family

Trout lilies (Erythronium americanum) are usually considered native woodland flowers of the spring. The 4 to 8 inch tall leaves have maroon-purple spots like a trout has. Yellow or white lily-shaped flowers are borne atop a single stalk. Lily family

The resurrection lily (Lycoris squamigera) is also called Magic lily or naked lady. It has long strap-shaped leaves that are about 15 inches long. The leaves are produced in the spring and die back to the ground by early summer. The magic part comes as the flowers appear "like magic" in mid to late summer as fragrant pink flowers on 18 to 24 inch scapes. Amaryllis family

Blackberry lily (Belamcanda chinensis) is also called Leopard flower. Both common names are appropriate. This plant has sword-shaped leaves that resemble that of German iris. Flowers reach four-foot and are orange, dotted with red. Later, when the capsule splits the cluster of black seeds resembles a blackberry. Iris family

I grew up calling the orange lilies growing along roadsides and in ditches a tiger lily. Imagine my surprise when I learned at college that they are not really tiger lilies, tawny daylilies, or ditch lilies. They are actually daylilies since they have long, strap-like leaves.

What other lily named plants can you think of? There is the calla lily, cana lily, water lily, plantain lily, Peruvian lily, and African lily. I could go on and on, but you get the idea.

Tell me all about your lilies on my ILRiverHort social media sites. You'll find me at Facebook/ILRiverHort, Twitter/ILRiverHort, and Pinterest/ILRiverHort.

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