On this page we explain the different divisions or classes of lilies.
Asiatics are the hardiest lilies available and are often mistakenly called tiger lilies. Flowers have different bloom orientations and vary dramatically in height and color. There are usually 3-12 flowers per stem, which open from late June through August. Asiatics are very hardy with amazing strength and substance. They are also virtually pest free!
Tiger Lilies are in fact usually hybrids of a cross between the species tigrinum or lancifolium and an asiatic hybrid. A true tiger lily is now considered to be of the species lancifolium. They reproduce prolifically, especially along the stem...ever wondered what those little brown nibs forming along the stem of one of your lilies was? They are called stem bulbils, and if you plant them, in time each one will produce another lily exactly like the mother! You can guarantee that any lily which produces stem bulbils has lancifolium in it's genes.
LA hybrids (longiflorum x asiatic) are an exciting breakthrough in lily cross-breeding. They are a cross between an asiatic and an Easter lily. Very large blooms on a hardy and reasonably tall stem, along with fragrance (on some) are this hybrid's features. They multiply rapidly and perform well in the garden, although they are bred for the cut flower trade. Because the flowers are huge, with wider leaf margins, the cut flowers have a longer blooming life. Blooming starts in mid July. We find these hybrids to be reliably hardy to zone 3, although we have reports of zone 2b hardiness, there are many in zone 2 who say they are not.
Orientals have wider leaves and a later bloom date than asiatics, but your reward is the strong and spicy perfume. Orientals have 6-12 large, open faced blossoms on each stem in shades of pink, white, yellow and red. They bloom from August through September here at our location. The most common of the Orientals is "Star Gazer", truly a beauty to behold. Orientals are borderline hardy here on the Prairies, and require extra help to make it through our harsh winters. They should be planted deeper, only in spring, and mulched heavily in the fall. Part shade is also preferred. They can also be grown and overwintered successfully in pots. Click here for a very good article on overwintering orientals in Alberta.
Trumpet lilies are hardy to Zone 4 and require the same care as Orientals on the Prairies, with the exception that they prefer full sun. Because they are not hardy, we grow our trumpets in pots. Trumpets are fragrant and usually grow quite tall, making them ideal at the back of a perennial bed, or against a building or fence. They too can be successfully grown in pots and overwintered.
Martagon lilies are a hybrid which feature dainty, down-facing or turk's cap flowers. Flowers are produced in abundance, sometimes with 50 per stem! They are ideal for shady spots and should not be disturbed once planted. Make sure you mulch your Martagons if you live in an area with hot summers. Currently we do not list any Martagons for sale. Martagons are very slow to propagate and increase, thus their higher purchase price - up to $95.00 per bulb!
Orienpets & Easterpets (OT) combine the beauty of Orientals with the garden traits of the Trumpets and Aurelian Hybrids. They often have more intense colors in cooler weather, with the colors fading in high heat. Orienpets grow quite tall and bloom later, from mid-August through to October, depending on the weather. We have listed a few Orienpets from the farm of Columbia-Platte, guaranteed to be great garden performers when it comes from the talented breeding of Judith Freeman! We also list many of Dr. Wilbert Ronald & Lynn Collicut's selections. Orienpets should be planted in spring, mulched heavily in fall or overwintered in pots on the Prairies.
Aurelian/Asiatic or Asiapets (AA) hybrids are yet another newer breakthrough in lily breeding; crosses between hardy Asiatics and the Aurelian trumpets, resulting in hardy bulbs with magnificent, huge, fragrant blooms which show themselves in late August through September. Plant them 8 inches deep, mulch in zones 1 and 2 is recommended, be sure these are in full sun. Finally, a fragrant AND hardy lily for the prairies!
Species lilies are regaining in popularity, and we will slowly add to our line as time goes on. Species take a little longer to propagate as they are in their natural form, the way nature created them. Many originate in Japan or China, and require very specific growing conditions. Many are hardy for our climate, but there just as many that are not.
Oriental/Asiatic (OA) hybrids are the latest of the interdivisional crosses we have growing on our farm, crosses between the oriental and asiatic lilies. Treat exactly as Asiatics, keep in mind they are lightly fragrant and you may want them planted close to your deck or home so you can enjoy the scent. We have had no problems with hardiness of these types in Zone 3. Zone 1-2 may want to mulch the first year to ensure survival over winter.
Longiflorum X Oriental (LO) hybrids will not survive in zones 1-3 without a heavy mulch or protection of some sort over winter. These are a cross between the common easter lily and the oriental hybrids. Plant deeply and treat as you would with Orientals.