Decisions, decisions -- elegant blooms come in a host of sizes, shapes and colors

Photo: Andrew Drake

Size and fragrance, or color and number of flowers? These may be your hardest decisions when choosing lilies ― those elegant, six-petaled, trumpet-shaped flowers that bloom in summer.

Asiatic lilies: Bold and reliable, each 1½- to 4-foot-tall stem produces five to seven flowers in shades of gold, orange, pink, red, or white in early summer; petals may be speckled, banded, or clear.

Start with three top-size bulbs this year and have a dozen flowers by the following summer. Try yellow 'Desert Flower', red-orange 'Soiree', or 'Oklahoma', whose gold petals fade to raspberry pink at the tips. Sunset climate zones A1-A3, 1-9, and 14-24.

Oriental lilies: These start flowering just as Asiatics finish. Their out-facing or upright blooms range in color from white to deep raspberry. They're often bicolored and spotted ― and always extremely fragrant. Top-size bulbs produce three to five flowers per stem the first year, 10 to 20 blooms when mature. Grow pure white 'Casablanca' or deep raspberry and red-freckled 'Starfighter'. In hot inland areas, try bright yellow Oriental/trumpet lily hybrid 'Conca d'Or'. Zones 1-9, 14-24.


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