The Wonderful Hardy Lilies

by Judi on November 16, 2013

Hardy Lily Bulbs are a wonderful addition to any garden to say the least! They live for years and multiply until you have enough to divide for other beds, or maybe to give to a friend or neighbor. These perennials can be a great source of color in the garden and fragrance as a cut flower. Listed below are some favorite varieties that grow well in my zone 4 garden.

Hardy Lilies (Lilium) come in many different varieties and sizes and colors.  Some can be almost 6 feet tall, and some are in the 15 inch tall category.  The varieties shorter than 20″ are usually labeled as Pot Lilies, meaning you can grow them in a large pot  alone or they can be paired with annuals in a large pot.

In cold climates, they can then be lifted and then planted in the ground as you would plant them in the spring, or you can store them in the pot they were planted in, in an unheated garage or building for the winter, and they will grow again the following spring.  (be sure to leave them outside until at least Thanksgiving weekend to get all the fall rains and hopefully the soil in the pot has started to freeze by that time.  If there are leaves on the top of the pot, leave them on for some protection, or put some on the top as a “frosting”.

Then, just store them in an unheated building on the cement floor, where they won’t start to thaw until early April.)  As long as the soil is frozen, the bulbs will be fine.  It is the freezing and thawing of the soil that would cause them to deteriorate if you left them outside in the pot.

IMG_4241I got started planting Hardy Lily Bulbs long ago when I purchased the first ones from a mail order catalog.

They were called Flame Lily and I think I purchased 3 or 4 of them to start out.

They are a dark orange, almost a red orange. I have divided these into two  large clumps for myself, as well as given away many of them. These must be 25 years old. They bloom right around the end of June and are about 20″ tall.

I don’t particularly like orange flowers, but these bloom along side white lilies and most of the pinks and reds in my beds are later blooming, so the color works most years.


This glorious white lily to the left is Siberia and grows to about 36 inches tall.  The best part of this variety is that it blooms late when many other things are not.  It is usually blooming here from early to mid August.

I have it in 4 beds so it blooms at different times, depending on how much shade the bulbs are getting.

These seem to have a longer bloom time than some lilies.  I rank it right up there with Casa Blanca for showy lilies.  It isn’t as large of a flower head, and shorter, but a very fine  oriental lily!


This variety is called Garden Party and is an Oriental variety and nicely fragrant.  It gets to about 30 inches.  This will bloom in later July.

They look so fresh and bright in the perennial bed.

This one too, will have a more pronounced yellow/gold stripe, depending on how much shade the bed is in.

002This beautiful fuchia lily to the left, is called Star Fighter.  It is very fragrant and very bright in color.  The petals are darker in color than the usual Star Gazer in the picture below.  Both are very beautiful and very fragrant.

Both are very showy and fragrant.  They bloom in the late July to mid August time period and grow to about 24 -30 inches tall.

IMG_4370Hardy Lilies need good soil to live for years and put on a good show each year.  If I have 5 bulbs to plant, I dig a hole about 2 feet wide by 6-8 inches deep.  Depth will depend on the bulb size of course, and for lilies should be 3 times the size of the bulb.  I use about half soil and half compost for filling the hole.

I put the soil I have dug out in a large  flower pot, or container large enough to mix the soil and compost together.   I use purchased compost if needed, which works fine.  Then fill the soil in on top of the lily bulbs, packing it down well so there aren’t any air pockets.  I mark the site with a plant marker so in the spring I know what to expect to bloom there.

Once the ground is frozen, I cover the site with shredded leaves that have gone through the lawn mowers blades.  Chopped leaves make a fine mulch over all perennials in the autumn.

More on Hardy Lily varieties in another post.

Happy Gardening!

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