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‘Red Velvet’, 1964

WHY GROW LILIES? — Lilies bring height, fragrance, and drama to the summer garden, and most are long-lived perennials.

LILY HISTORY — Minoan wall paintings from 1600 BC show Lilium chalcedonicum, and the Romans carried herbal L. candidum throughout their empire. Learn more.

TIPS FOR SUCCESS — Most lilies like their heads in the sun and feet in the shade. To learn more — including how to protect from animalsclick here.

OTHER “LILIES” — Many flowers are called lilies that aren’t. For a list of 250, click here.

Enrich your summer garden with the lush color, fragrance, and drama of heirloom lilies! We’ll send 5 easy-to-grow classics including our all-time customer favorite ‘Black Beauty’. For zones 5a-7b(9bWC) only.

For 2, 3, or more of each variety, order additional samplers. Lily care.


It’s not just an immortal movie, it’s a fabulous lily, too! Chocolate-bronze buds on tall, strong stems open to big, summery, amber-orange-copper trumpets that are swooningly fragrant. Vigorous and adaptable in all sorts of gardens, 5-6 feet, mid-summer blooming, zones 5a-8b(10bWC), from Holland. Chart and care.


Though absolutely gorgeous – with 15-40 turk’s-cap flowers of dark raspberry narrowly edged with silver – ‘Black Beauty’ is even more prized for its wonderful vigor and long life in all sorts of gardens. The first lily voted into the NALS Hall of Fame and one of our customers’ favorites year after year, it’s one of the 20th century’s very best. Sturdy 5-7 foot stems, mid-summer, zones 5a-8a(10bWC), from Holland. View a five-year-old clump in front of our original headquarters. Learn more. Chart, care, and learn more.


Corsage lily     1961

“Why doesn’t anyone offer my favorite lily anymore?” a customer asked us many years ago. She sent us a couple of bulbs and when they bloomed we agreed: it’s fantastic, a luminous blend of ivory, lemon, and pink that’s delicately edged and spotted with maroon. And since it has no pollen, it’s perfect for corsages and bouquets. By the great Jan de Graaf, 3-4 feet, zones 3a-7b(9bWC), early-mid summer, from Holland. Chart and care.


The richly fragrant trumpets of this tall, mid-century classic are golden yellow (duh!) shaded with bronze. Lily expert Ed McRae praised its “great vigor and breath-taking beauty,” and Michael Pollan in his modern classic Second Nature tells of planting it near purple Clematis jackmanii and discovering happily that “the two plants’ colors and temperaments do indeed rhyme.” Aurelian, 5-6’, mid-summer blooming, zones 5a-8b(10bWC), from Holland. Chart and care.


L. candidum,
Madonna lily     1600 BC

The most historic lily of all, this ravishingly fragrant, dazzlingly simple flower is pictured on Minoan pottery from 1600 BC and in countless paintings of the Virgin Mary. Roman, medieval, and colonial gardeners grew it for its herbal powers, calling it simply “the white lily.” It does best in well drained, neutral-to-alkaline soil that’s a bit dry in the summer, with winters that aren’t too hard on its evergreen leaves. 3 feet, zones 6a-7b(9bWC), from Holland. Chart, care, and learn more.


Red Velvet lily     1964

Grandma’s red velvet cake, rich with cocoa, is the same dark, luscious color as this enduring Hall of Famer. (Try our heirloom recipe!) Its New England-bred, triploid vigor makes it easy to grow almost anywhere, and hummingbirds love it. Asiatic, 3-5 feet, zones 4a-8a(10bWC), from Washington. Chart and care.


L. regale,
regal lily     1905

Discovered growing with abandon in the rugged wilds of Szechuan, this richly perfumed lily is so beautiful and easy to grow that it led to a lily renaissance in the 1920s. In fact, George Slate in his 1939 Lilies for American Gardens advised, “If only one lily is to be grown, it may well be this.” Touched with burgundy outside, it glows with gold inside. 3-6 feet, early summer blooming, zones 4a-8a(10bWC), from Holland. See a customer’s fasciated regal lily with over 50 blossoms on one stem! Chart, care, and learn more.


superbum lily     1665

The American turk’s-cap lily is one of our most impressive natives, growing in moist meadows from Massachusetts to Indiana and Alabama. In 1665 John Rea called it the “Virginia Martagon,” and in 1738 colonial botanist John Bartram sent it to his “brothers of the spade” in London where it caused a sensation. A challenge to grow, it demands well-drained, acid soil and plenty of moisture. 5-8 feet, zones 4b-8b(10bWC), from Tenessee. Chart and care.


L. lancifolium ‘Flore-Pleno’,
tiger , double lily     1870

“A magnificent plant,” exclaimed Brooklyn’s C.L. Allen in 1893 about this quirky, exuberant lily whose blooms remind us of shaggy-headed lions. Felder Rushing, author of Passalong Plants, admires it, too, and tells us that in his Mississippi garden it’s a magnet for tiger swallowtail butterflies. 3-5 feet, mid-summer, zones 4a-8b(10bWC), from Holland. Chart and care.


HISTORY— Minoan wall paintings from 1600 BC show Lilium chalcedonicum, the Romans carried herbal L. candidum throughout their empire, and Parkinson opened his great florilegium of 1629 with L. martagon and 23 others. Many of these classics are hard to find today, shoved aside in the 1800s by a deluge of new species from the recently-opened Far East. Complex hybrids came to the fore in the 20th century, many by North American hybridizers.

LILY ARCHIVES — For customer tips and raves, the stories behind the bulbs, links and books, history, news, and more, see our Lily Newsletter Archives.

LILIES AS CUT FLOWERS — For tips for longer lasting bouquets, see our Bulbs as Cut Flowers page.

PROTECTING FROM ANIMALS — Lilies, unfortunately, seem to be a favorite on most animal menus.

If animals dig your newly-planted bulbs try covering with plastic bird-netting, wire-mesh, a window screen, or burlap bags for a couple of weeks till the inviting smell of freshly-dug earth disappears.

If animals burrow to your bulbs, try lining the planting hole with wire-mesh, plant in wire-mesh boxes, or plant in buried pots covered with a square of chicken-wire.

Moles often disturb bulbs as they dig for grubs. Killing the grubs (try beneficial nematodes or spraying your lawn with bitter, organic Mole-Med) will reduce the moles — and this will discourage voles and mice which often use mole tunnels to munch on bulbs.

If animals eat spring growth, cover it with chicken wire for a few weeks (while they are hungriest), sprinkle blood meal around it, fence them out, or — our most successful solution — spray it with bitter, non-toxic Ro-pel, available at many garden centers. Bulbs can be dipped in Ro-pel before planting, too.

PLANTING & CARE — Most lilies like their heads in the sun and feet in the shade, with cool, loose, well-watered but well-drained soil. We send full planting and care instructions with all of our bulbs.

Since lilies are more perishable than most bulbs, plant them as soon as possible after they arrive. If necessary, store them only briefly in plastic in the refrigerator, away from fruit.

Lily bulbs often feel a bit soft, and a little Penicillium mold is common, but neither is cause for alarm. Remove brown or mushy scales.

Well-drained soil is essential for lilies! So avoid or improve clay soil, or plant in raised beds. If it’s also fertile and humusy, that’s ideal. Although adaptable, most lilies prefer soil that’s slightly acid. Tiger lily and Henry’s lily are two that thrive in neutral to alkaline soils.

In the North, choose a sunny (but not hot) or very lightly shaded site. In the South, give afternoon shade. Good air circulation is critical, too.

Plant so bulbs are covered with three to four times their height in soil. Deeper is better than shallower. Space most lilies 9-18 inches apart, depending on their ultimate size. Smaller lilies such as L. pumilum and the martagons, for example, can be planted 6-12 inches apart.

Lilies like their heads in the sun but their feet in shade, so add a good mulch to help keep the soil cool and moist or over-plant with low-growing annuals or companionable perennials. In the North, add a winter mulch to help keep sprouts from emerging too early (to late-frost damage).

Water as you would other perennials; lilies like moisture (though not heavy, water-logged soil). Rich soil is good, but heavy fertilizing is NOT recommended.

Be prepared to stake the heavy heads of some lilies in bloom, especially those grown in less than full sun.

Like many perennials, lilies rarely reach their full height, bloom, or beauty the first year, but your patience and good care will be rewarded.

The red lily leaf beetle is a new pest that’s spreading through New England and beyond. Hand-picking and neem-based insecticides are two widely recommended controls. Learn more here.