Don’t Forget to add ‘Sizzle’ and ‘Swank’ to your Summer Garden

With April upon us, the garden checklist begins to grow.  There are not only new projects we are excited to start but all the general care items that come due this time of year.  Cleaning out winter debris from beds and boxes, pruning dead or diseased branches from trees/shrubs, getting the grass in shape, tending seedlings, applying dormant oil to prevent insect problems, preparing vegetable areas for planting, spreading compost…. Need I say more?

With all of this on our minds it is easy to forget some of the outstanding performers of summer (that of course) need our attention too.  I’m talking about the leading ladies – Asiatic Lily and Oriental Lily.  These two ‘hotties’ can provide sizzle and swank in your summer garden.

By Shahnoor Habib Munmun ( via Wikimedia Commons

Asiatic brings the sizzle to your garden in early summer while Oriental makes a ‘casually late’ appearance strutting her swank in mid-summer (July-August).

Both ladies, er, lilies have much to offer.   Asiatic (below) is known to be easy to get along with and not fussy.  Translation:  Grows easily, very hardy (to Zone 2) and tolerates most soil as long as it is well-draining. Asiatic is strong and does not need assistance (no stakes) and has a healthy habit of revisiting every year, even expanding her presence in a non-threatening way (multiplies, but non-invasive). Her shades of color cannot be matched – think magnificent hues and combinations of pink, peach, orange, yellow, plum, red, and white.


Photo by Derek Ramsey (Ram-Man), 2007. Co-attribution must be given to the Chanticleer Garden. Both parties have shared, contractual copyright control. (Own Picture) (GFDL) or CC-BY-SA-3.0 ( via Wikimedia

Oriental (above) is a bit more complex.  She’s more showy and provides wonderfully scented blooms.  And as you may have already figured, is just a bit more picky needing a little extra protection from winter’s cold (especially in zones 2,3,4) and some shade from hot afternoon sun helps the big blooms stay beautiful.  Oriental also prefers a slightly acidic soil (Ph 6-7) but these needs can usually be met by amending the soil (if needed) with peat moss or other organic material.  Nature has endowed Oriental (height and bloom size) greatly yet she usually doesn’t need support and has the same healthy habit of return visits year after year.   Oriental sticks with a classy color palette mostly showcasing shades of white and pink but incorporates crimson and light yellow in some outstanding color combinations.

So as you are busily working in your garden this spring don’t forget about Asiatic and Oriental lilies.  They should be planted now so that come summer your garden will show off plenty of sizzle and swank!

General Planting Instructions:

Time to plant: Most climates February – May

Location: Sunny spot, with some protection from hot afternoon sun.  Well drained soil.

Planting:  Dig hole to a depth of approximately 8″.  Add a little bone meal to bottom of hole and place lily bulb with its roots down and scale points up.  Cover with amended soil (use peat moss or organic compost to lighten and acidify soil if needed).  Pack the soil slightly and water so the soil settles around the bulb preventing air pockets.  Space lilies approximately 6-12 inches apart.

Water: Lilies do not need daily water but once summer heat hits water once a week deeply enough to reach the bulb.  Avoid wetting the leaves.  Do not overwater or your lily bulbs will rot.

Fertilizer:  A light to moderate fertilizer (20-20-20) can be applied just before flowering and after blooming is completed to keep bulbs healthy.  Do not fertilize too late in the fall as dormancy is approaching.

Extras: May want to mark lily areas with a weather resistant marker, so as not to damage the lily shoots in the spring when working nearby.

Using pruned tree branches as lily markers until they emerge.

3 thoughts on “Don’t Forget to add ‘Sizzle’ and ‘Swank’ to your Summer Garden

    1. Hi Jenny,
      Yes, some Asiatic lilies have a zone rating of 9 (Phoenix area) and some even go to 10. This means they are suitable for your zone’s lows and will grow as expected. I would plant lilies in an area that gets morning to mid-day sun and afternoon shade. Here is one source that I have ordered from before ( and they rate the lilies they carry so you easily know which ones will work in your zone 9 climate. Another source is ( but you may want to ask them which lilies would be sure to grow in your zone. You can even pick up Asiatics at places like Home Depot or Lowe’s if you just want to give them a try. Good luck.

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