White lilies (Lilium candidium) are attractive additions to cottage gardens and urban landscapes. White lilies are also cultivated as a bulb crop, with the bulbs raised in greenhouses for forcing and cut-flower production. White lilies are used for floral arrangements year-round. When cutting any lily for floral arrangements, always leave at least one-third of the floral stem attached to the plant. The stems and leaves provide food for bulb growth. Associated throughout history with the Virgin Mary, white lilies are symbolic of peace and purity.
White lilies are often used in wedding and funeral bouquets.
Among the Asiatic lilies, the cultivar ‘Antartica’ is an outstanding, pure white lily that grows from 2-to-3 feet tall. ‘Antartica’ is an early- to mid-season bloomer that is loaded with buds. The short stems of the plant do not require stalking. Amend the soil before planting with several shovelfuls of well-aged herbivore manure (lama, sheep, goat, cow, horse) and water well. Plant the bulbs in the fall to allow the plant to develop strong roots before winter dormancy.
Lilies attract hummingbirds to the home garden.
Oriental lilies are prized for their exceptional size and intense fragrance. They are the last lilies to bloom during the summer season, providing visual interest and color after other flowers have faded. Oriental lilies prefer a sunny spot but will tolerate light shade. Plant in the fall, 8-to-10 inches below the soil. Mulch heavily and water well.
‘Casa Blanca’ is an Oriental variety known for its pure white color and sweet fragrance. The blooms are 6-to-8 inches across with as many as eight flowers per stem. ‘Casa Blanca’ is an excellent cut flower, often used in wedding bouquets. The strong and sturdy plants grow from 4-to-5 feet tall. The plant multiplies readily to form large colonies.
Millions of Easter lilies are sold each year as houseplants.
The majority of Easter lilies, also known as Madonna lilies, are field grown as a bulb crop. Bulbs are replanted in pots for greenhouse cultivation. By manipulating nutrients and light, plants are forced to bloom just in time for the spring religious holiday. All lily bulbs planted in containers for indoor or greenhouse growing can be planted at any time of the year. Before planting, all lily bulbs require a period of cold dormancy. Place bulbs in moist peat moss in sealed plastic bags. Store bulbs in the refrigerator at 38-to-45 degrees Fahrenheit for six-to-eight weeks before planting.
White Lily-of-the-Nile (Agapanthus africanus) presents clusters of pure white flowers on top of long, sturdy stalks. Plant in a full-sun location and provide plenty of moisture. White Lily-of-the-Nile prefers moist, nutrient-rich soil and does well planted around ponds or landscape water features. Remove faded flowers to encourage repeat flowering. The plant grows to a height of 3 feet tall and is 1-to-2 feet wide. A perennial late-summer bloomer, White Lily-of-the-Nile grows well in USDA Hardiness Zones 9 and 10. This evergreen lily can be planted at any time.