Many beautiful plants in summer gardens have the name "lily" attached to them. Most of these do belong to the lily family but are fairly distant relatives of the plants we recognize as lilies.
It's important to know that none of these so-called "lilies" can be treated exactly as the Asiatic lilies or the oriental lilies that we're familiar with. For instance, many are not quite as hardy.
Pineapple lilies have the botanical name of Eucomis. They're a zone 8 plant and, in warm coastal gardens, come through mild winters if they're under a deep, leafy mulch. In cooler gardens, Eucomis does best in containers brought inside for winter. It produces a fat spike of starry blooms in white, pink or purple with a tuft of green leaves on top, like a pineapple.
Unlike many summer bulbs, the pineapple lily flowers for many weeks and still looks good when the flowers are replaced by fat, green seeds. Purpleleaved forms are being developed as well as hybrids like Leia, which has very large, pink flowers.
The calla lily is really an arum with the Latin name of Zantedeschia. It loves moisture and warm, sheltered places. The old almost-hardy favourite still planted outside in gardens is the white form Crowborough, which reliably over-winters under mulch.
The pink, purple, red or yellow calla lilies that are sold widely in spring are hybrids with more tender varieties and need winters indoors. These thrive in warm places with lots of moisture such as container ponds or bog gardens.
The foxtail lily has the Latin name of Eremurus. It's a hardy, semi-desert plant that can grow to be more than two metres tall topped with long spikes of densely clustered shallow cups with long, stamens.
Basic flowers are white, yellow and pink, but hybrid colours include orange, red, deep pink and coppery tones.
The wide-spreading rhi-zomes (evolved to absorb water quickly in rare desert rains) look like skinny starfish. If you can keep rain off them in winter when they are dormant (an old bucket will do), Eremerus plants can last for years.
Lily relatives also include African lilies, which are often sold by their true Latin name: Agapanthus.
The tender varieties throw up stout, tall stems topped by spectacular balls of blue, violet or white tubular flowers. These Agapanthus are perfect for well-drained patio containers in full sun, but they must spend winter indoors.
Daylilies are botanically called Hemerocallis. They're very popular because they grow in most garden soils and produce flowers over several weeks (though each flower lasts only one day). The most flowers are produced by feeding them lavishly and growing them in a sunny spot.
Plant breeders have produced flower shapes including doubles, spidery petals, ruffled petals and flat blooms. Colours now include bicoloureds, picotees and very deep reds and purples.
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