LiliesMeaning, Facts, Varieties and Care Tips
Known the world over for their distinctive look and fragrance, lilies are one of the most popular cut flowers. Loved by florists, homeowners and brides for the simple elegance they add to bouquets, homes and weddings, you canÂt go wrong with lilies. Read on to find out all you need to know about these wonderful flowers.
Lily Flower meanings
Lily meanings can vary depending on culture or religion;
Mythological meaningIn Ancient Greece, Zeus had recently had a son - Hercules. The problem was, his wife Hera was not the mother. Undeterred by this Zeus asked Hera to feed Hercules with her milk and she disagreed. This didn't stop Zeus, when Hera was sleeping he secretly tried to feed Hercules with her milk. She awoke and pushed the baby away, and the drops of milk that fell to the ground grew into lilies.
Lilies are a symbol of grace, purity, majesty and honor. The Victorians used to give lilies to their beloved to show their devotion, and in modern times the lily has evolved to be a symbol of sympathy making them a popular funeral flower.
Lily meanings can change depending on the colour:
White lilies:Purity and virtue
Orange lilies:Confidence, pride and wealth
Yellow lilies:purity, innocence
Pink lilies:Prosperity and abundance
a few facts about Lilies
These beautiful flowers are quite interesting too. Here's a few things you probably didn't know about Lilies:
Types of Lilies
There are so many lily flower classifications (about 90 species in the lilium genus) that we've narrowed it down to some of the most popular garden varieties. Garden lilies fall into nine categories:
Asiatic LiliesThese are the easiest to grow because they are cold hardy. Asiatic hybrid blossoms have the widest range of colours which is why they are one of the most popular cut flowers and potted plants. They are mid-sized and unscented.
Common Asiatic Lilies:
Martagon Lilies (known as Turk's Cap Lilies)These early bloomers produce small, downward facing flowers. They grow to be quite tall and prefer cooler climates and shaded areas.
Common Martagon Lilies:
Candidum LiliesCandidum lilies include most European varieties but are native to the Balkans and Eastern Mediterranean. They are most often grown as fragrant white lilies with a yellow base.
Common Candidum Lilies:
American LiliesAmerican lilies are derived from North American wild lilies. In cooler UK climates they will bloom around the end of June to early July.
Common American Lilies:
Longiflorum LiliesCommonly known as the Easter Lily these flowers are native to Japan and boast huge white blooms (six - seven inches).
Common Longiflorum Lilies
Trumpet and Aurelian LiliesThese lilies love to be in full sunlight and bloom from July to August. As the name suggests they have long petals that look like the head of a trumpet, and tend to have a strong fragrance.
Common Trumpet / Aurelian Lilies:
Oriental LiliesThese lilies have very large blooms and can grow to be 5ft tall. They bloom in late summer and tend to look their best in August. They have a very strong scent making them a popular cut flower.
Common Oriental Lilies:
Interdivisional LiliesThese lilies come from crossing the other varieties in this list. Longiflorum crossed with asiatic creates large flowers with a slight fragrance, whereas oriental crossed with trumpet / aurelian produces robust, heavily scented blooms.
Common Interdivisional Lilies:
Species LiliesThis group stands alone because they are the wild parents of the other eight groups of lilies in this section. They are found in Europe, North America and most commonly Asia. These wild lilies can be much harder to grow in gardens than the others mentioned.
A note on day lilies and water liliesThese flowers do not come from the same lilium genus as the other lilies mentioned in this list even though they share the name - so they are not 'true' lilies.
Lily Care Tips
When looked after properly, lilies have one of the longest vase lives of all cut flowers. Here's how to look after yours:
Note: Hay fever sufferers should opt for unscented varieties as the pollen count is much lower. Oriental lilies are the most heavily scented so avoid these if you have allergies.
Style Tip:Lilies look best in arrangements with taller flowers and they pair beautifully with roses, sunflowers or gladioli.
Warning:Keep lilies away from animals (especially cats and dogs) and children as they can be toxic.
How to arrange lilies
Lilies look best in arrangements with taller flowers and make a bold statement in any room.
They look particularly beautiful when combined with roses or statuesque summer blooms such as sunflowers or gladioli.
If anyone in the family suffers from hay fever an unscented variety may be preferable as they have a lower pollen count whilst the Oriental Lily is the most heavily scented.
lilies for weddings
The unparalleled beauty of Lilies makes them a popular choice of wedding flowers.
They look fabulous in bridal bouquets and are equally impressive in vase designs and arrangements. That said, be very wary of lily stamens when going down the aisle, particularly if you are getting married in white as they stain easily - ensure your florist removes them first for your own peace of mind.
One of the appealing things about lilies is that they are available all year round and come in a spectrum of different colours meaning that they really can complement any wedding scheme.
How to grow lilies
Growing lilies is quite straightforward, they are fairly hardy plants that do well in the UK climate.
When to plant lily bulbsPlant your lily bulbs in late autumn, just before the cold winter weather comes. This gives the roots chance to establish themselves before the ground freezes, and the bulbs benefit from being chilled as theyÂll produce bigger flowers.
Tip: Buy your bulbs just before you plan to plant them for the best results.
How to plant lily bulbs
Growing lilies in potsGrowing in pots is slightly different to growing in your garden. It's best to plant them in early autumn but you can still plant them through to spring.
When do lilies bloom?Lilies are perennial flowers that bloom from June to August each year. They are available from flower shops all year round.
How to deadhead liliesOnce a lily flower has faded simply break it off with your fingers or snip it off with some shears. This will stop seed pod production and send nutrients to the bulb.
Make sure you don't remove any leaves until they have gone brown in late autumn. The leaves will continue to nourish your lily bulb for next year which is why it's important to leave them.