2018-11-08 / From The Garden

The Splendor of Lilies: Last Call for Bulbs

By Cynthia Gibson


Miss Lucy Miss Lucy The time is now to plant lilium bulbs, which produce the grandest of all lilies.

Lilium are true perennials that can last 20 years. The bulbs, which are sold individually, are pricey, but you can buy collections in supermarkets or garden centers for less.

Be warned that the lower-priced bulbs are often of inferior quality or are half the size of a full-priced bulb. Therefore, the more expensive bulbs are worth the investment. Depending upon rarity and size of the bulb, an individual lily bulb can cost anywhere from $3 to $55.

Consider how the bulb will stand up to snow, ice and frozen ground. It’s best to stick to bulbs labeled for Rhode Island’s Zone 7A. The zones for each bulb will be listed on the package. Local garden centers and nurseries select bulbs for our zone.

If you plant your lilium now you will usually see one strong stalk come up in the spring. Planting in groups will give your garden a colorful and splendid display. Lilies are very fragrant, and if you sit downwind of them during the summer, their fragrance is intoxicating.


Turks Cap Turks Cap There are not only early-, late- and mid-summer blooming lilies, there are also Asiatic, Oriental, Martagon and Candidum, along with American, Longiflorum, Trumpet, Aurelian and Interdivisional hybrids.

One of the most popular lilies is Forever Susan, which is an Asiatic lily. Not only is the purple lily spectacular with splashes of yellow and marigold, it will start blooming right after your daffodils and tulips fade, and it will continue to bloom for about three weeks.

The Turk’s Cap lily is a personal favorite. I’ve had them in my perennial bed for the past 16 years. The petals are bright yellow to orange, with dark black speckles, and they curve back into themselves, looking like turbans bobbing in the wind. They give an exotic flair to your garden. This lily is such a favorite that it is worth the price of three bulbs to have them in your garden. For all their beauty, they are one of the less fragrant lilies.


Gold Band Gold Band One of the finest Oriental lilies is Stargazer, which boasts large flowers that open into a star shape. The petals have a white outline with a medium to bright pink petal color dotted with burgundy dots. It is a strong, remarkable lily that will not fold in a rain shower. The petals are almost waxen and beautiful. Stargazer is also one of the most fragrant of all the lilium.

Miss Lucy, a double petaled lily with no stamens, is a showstopper. It has a mild fragrance, but a powerful look. It is white, with baby pink edges. Miss Lucy grows well in our zone, but will last only five to six years.

A fabulous lily to have in your garden is Gold Band or lilium auratum. They can grow up to 10 inches across. The huge flowers are bright white with a bold yellow stripe down the center of each white petal, flecked with rust-colored spots. The fragrance of Gold Band is also magnificent.

If you plant three to five each of these lilies this fall you will see a remarkable display of color in spring and the air will be filled with a marvelous aroma all summer long.



The fast harvesting machine recently planted 50,000 daffodil bulbs at Wheeler Park in Middletown bringing the goal of 1,000,000 daffodils closer. The fast harvesting machine recently planted 50,000 daffodil bulbs at Wheeler Park in Middletown bringing the goal of 1,000,000 daffodils closer.

Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She tends her miniature orchard in Newport. Cynthia Gibson is a gardener, food writer and painter. She tends her miniature orchard in Newport.

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