A Brief Look Into Oriental and Asiatic Lilies

by Robert Canning on October 22, 2021

Lilies are some of the most elegant blooms around, known to be regal and magnificent with their stunning petals and heights that can reach five feet. Even when they don’t grow to be that tall, they instantly exude an elegant presence wherever they’re planted, which is why Asiatic and Oriental lilies are known as the Queens of the Summer Garden.

These gorgeous flowers belong to the genus Lilium family, consisting of herbaceous perennials that bloom from a bulb with scales and no protective skin on it. Since lilies are divided into types or divisions with hundreds of cultivars, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the varieties available. Here’s what you need to know about lilies:

The Differences Between Oriental and Asiatic Lilies

Oriental and Asiatic lilies are the most popular kinds, both adored as cut flowers and garden features. These variations are available in pastel and vibrant colours. An example is Landini, an Asiatic lily known for its dramatic purple flowers.

Lilies have made their cultural impact for many millennia. It represented the goddess Hera in Greek mythology, signifying her innocence and purity. It was associated with the Virgin Mary during the Middle Ages due to its pre-existing connection with purity, which continued well into Victorian times. However, it symbolised 100 years of love and good luck for the Chinese, which is why they are very popular as wedding flowers.

Initially, Oriental and Asiatic lilies look the same. However, a few key differences separate them. The Oriental lily is from Japan, while the Asiatic lily can be found all over Asia. The Asiatic lily can grow one to six feet tall, while the Oriental lily can reach two to eight feet. It can also get taller every year, with some known as tree lilies.

The Asiatic lily has no fragrance and has long, slender, shiny leaves. On the other hand, the Oriental lily has highly aromatic flowers, has broader heart-shaped leaves that grow further apart. The Asiatic lily blooms in May and June, while the Oriental lily blooms as the Asiatic lily fades in late June and July. 

Caring for Lilies

While caring for lilies isn’t overly tedious, they have some care requirements and planting conditions needed to create gorgeous blooms. For instance, be sure to purchase healthy bulbs and plant them right when you get home. If they dry out before planting, put them in moist peat moss or sand to plump them up and stimulate the roots into growing.

Lilies are not bog plants, which means they cannot be in wet soil that does not drain. Prepare a pot for them with a drain so that the excess water can leave adequately. Add lots of organic matter to the soil and till it in thoroughly. 

It’s important to note that Oriental lilies need full sun to thrive, like eight hours or more. Asiatic lilies prefer a bit more shade, but they need at least six hours of full sun, as they are not dappled shade or shade garden plants. Ensure that your soil is not alkaline, as lilies do not grow well in them. Additionally, dig your holes eight to twelve inches deep since the bulbs must be submerged deeply to provide enough support to the long stems and stunning flowers.


Lilies make excellent anniversary or birthday flower arrangements, given their dazzling blooms and statuesque height. By understanding the differences between Oriental and Asiatic lilies and knowing what they need to thrive, you can cultivate your own blooms and even gift them to your loved ones.

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