Lilies have always had a prominent place in the landscapes of my life, from my grandmother’s house, to my parent’s mountain cabin, and now to my own home. There’s something about their showy flowers and smell that has made them one of my favorite flowers and landscape plants. Both lilies and daylilies are wonderful additions to a landscape but there are some notable differences between them.

            True lilies belong to the genus Lilium, which has over one hundred species, most of which are native to North America. Regardless of species or classification, true lilies are perennials which regrow and bloom each year. True lilies grow from bulbs with overlapping scales, producing a single stem with flowers forming at it’s top. Plant leaves grow in whorls or spirals around the entire length of the stem. Lily flowers come in many colors including whites, yellows, oranges, pinks, reds, and purples, and depending on variety, can bloom from late spring into late summer. Each flower has six petals and six anthers, with blooms lasting up to a week or longer. The lowest buds on a stem open first, with the remaining buds blooming sequentially over that week-long period. True lilies can produce heavy amounts of pollen and a heady scent that some people dislike. If you’re interested in planting lilies, it is best to plant dormant bulbs in the fall. Select a site with good drainage that is full sun or part shade, and make sure to water them regularly during the growing season when rainfall is scarce.

            Daylilies are technically not lilies, despite the name, falling into the genus Hemerocallis. There are over 35,000 varieties of daylily available on the market, with new developments each year. Like lilies, daylilies are perennial plants, but instead of growing from bulbs, they reproduce from rhizomes, resulting in the formation of clumps of plants together. This root system also makes them easy to divide and replant. Daylilies have long, flat leaves that grow in clumps from the crown of the plant at it’s base. They produce multiple stems which produce six-petaled flowers in a variety of colors, which only bloom for a single day.  Despite this, each plant produces an abundance of flower buds and will continue to add showy blooms through a long period of time. Different varieties may bloom early, mid, or late season, so consider combining types for a long season of flowers. Daylilies should be planted in the fall in an area with full sun or light shade, and moist, well-drained soil.

            Both true lilies and daylilies are hardy plants which can add showy blooms and visual interest to a home landscape. If you’d like to be able to cut flowers for decoration inside your home or as gifts, you’ll want to use true lilies. If you’d like a longer flower season and the ability to divide plants every 3-5 years, daylilies are more appropriate. Either way, be sure to test your soil and select the best site possible for planting in order to ensure growing success. If you have questions about landscape plants, please let us know at or 706-359-3233.

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