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June – The Month of LiliesMaster Gardener Scoop – June 15, 2016

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June – The Month of Lilies

By Leora McTall,

Master Gardener

As June arrived here in our Irvington garden, so did the lilies – both true lilies and daylilies! First they appeared in small numbers, now their bright colors light up the whole garden!

What a welcome sight were some of the first daylilies: Cherokee Mary – she is a rich, very dark red double with white trim; little "Butterscotch Ruffles" (the color fits its name) and "Ottis' Magic" – yellow throat running out to lavender/pink, with piecrust edges. By the road is "Helix", a spider form, velvety reddish black with inner colors of bright green and yellow. This show-stopper will surely slow down the traffic as they fly over the top of the hill.

With the mention of daylilies, some think of the common, orange roadside lily, or ditch lily, but modern hybridizers have introduced thousands of new daylilies with outstanding color, form, size and bloom time.

Daylilies (Hemerocallis) are one of the most easy-care, low maintenance flowers one can grow. They are basically disease and pest free. The most trouble they seem to cause is their need to be divided every few years, but if you cannot get around to it, most will grow and bloom several years without any attention whatsoever. Be sure and plant them in full sun. They will survive in shade, but tend to become spindly and lean for the light.

There is a Daylily Festival near Knoxville, TN on June 24 and 25. Six acres full of daylilies, with over 1000 varieties. Check out their website: Pack your bags and let's go! Oakes Daylily growers have a good catalog too, or you may shop online.

True lilies (Lilium family) are grown from a fragile bulb which must be kept moist when out of the ground. These are the large, showy lilies that bloom at the top of one strong stem. Surprise lilies, calla lilies, water lilies are not true lilies.

True lilies are divided into 9 Horticultural Divisions, which include the most familiar, Asiatic (Div. 1) and Oriental Lilies (Div. 7). The Easter Lilies that adorn churches on Easter Sunday are of the Longiflorum Hybrid, (Div. 5). Anyone who has taken these elegant white lilies home to plant after Easter is usually disappointed, but don't feel bad, because to quote the North American Lily Society, "they are not particularly hardy in the garden".

Of all the true lilies, the Asiatics bloom first and are probably the easiest to grow. They need full sun and are available in many colors. However, they are not fragrant.

Oriental Lilies are very fragrant, but a little more picky. They could use a little shade, especially in the afternoon. "Stargazer" (deep pink and white) and the pure white "Casablanca" are two of the most popular Orientals. Both of these grow well here in our area.

One very reputable source to purchase true lilies is at the website of "The Lily Garden". After growing some of these lilies, you are bound to agree with this quote from Luke: "Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these".

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Asiatic Lily, "Treffer" is a clear bright orange, about 36" tall with a 6" flower.  This lily is so striking, it may be found in two different areas of our garden, and has multiplied over the years.