Today, our showcase features a perennial flowering plant. Native to continents across the northern hemisphere, this flower has some of the most recognizable petals on earth. Classified as deciduous, meaning it sheds leaves and lies dormant during the winter, they thrive in most temperate climates.
There are roughly 100 different species of this elegant flower. It blooms in a variety of colors. My personal favorite are the orange ones, with brown spots. This specific plant has taken on multiple names over time. One name refers to a certain jungle cat, based on it’s color scheme. Did I give it away yet?
Why don’t you take a guess, you probably have it pinned down!
Yes, very well done, it’s the lily!
Lilies are fairly easy to grow. An ideal choice for any novice gardener. Commonly planted as a bulb, although some species are grown from a seed. Be sure to provide nutrient rich soil that drains well. Make home a sunny area with a touch of shade. Warmer climates will want to provide a little extra shade from a scorching sun.
My general rule of thumb, plant your bulbs in the soil about three times deeper than the size of the bulb itself. Sizes vary depending on the species. I will always prefer my lilies in the ground but oftentimes they can be found in a pot or vases. They are a social plant so they enjoy the company of other lilies. Keep “friends” around to keep some company.
I like to mix and match my lilies within the same garden bed, planting taller varieties in the back. At full maturity some reach 6 feet tall, others a mere 2 or 3 feet. Planting different varieties allows for colorful coverage all season long because different species bloom at different times of the growing season.
Once your lily is spent, cut off the fading remains. This will trigger your plant to transition its energy from seed production to stabilizing the bulbs and roots. Allows for a stronger, healthier plant the following year. You’ll want to cut it off just above the top leaf. Keep as many leaves as possible. Let them fall off naturally own their own.
It can be difficult sometimes to distinguish a true lily, from other common garden friends that use the lily name. Examples include the daylily and the water lily. These guys are just imposters!
True lilies have practical uses in both culinary and medical fields.
- A lily is edible. Hard to imagine these beautiful plants can be consumed, but it’s true. All parts of the plant are safe to consume for humans.
- Native Americans harvested lily bulbs, dating back thousands of years. Quite frankly, they revered the lily.
- Most edible bulbs sold in the market today are harvested in China.
- Cooked bulbs have a turnip flavor, starchy and crunchy.
- Chinese cooks use the plant as a flavor enhancement. Dried leaves are a good source of fiber and contain small amounts of other essential nutrients.
- Some bulbs are boiled and turned into tea, soup or stew. This can soothe an upset stomach or help treat sore throats.
- Often used therapeutically, it can regulate heart rate, which will make the heart muscle function effectively.
- Roots are used to derive an herbal remedy. Treats burns and prohibits scar tissue for building up.
- Extracted oil is used for cracked or dry skin.
Never bring lilies into your home if you own a cat. This plant is toxic to cats, all parts. From the leaves, to the stem, flowers and bulbs. Most medical cases occur when a feline takes a whiff of the pollen. Cats don’t generally consume lilies but if it should happen, have your cat treated immediately! Waiting just one day can lead to kidney failure and possible death within a few days.
The lily appears in many cultures around the globe. Different color lilies can symbolize different things. White lilies have often been a symbol of purity and rebirth. Red lilies can symbolize passion and the pink ones symbolize prosperity or femininity.
In North America the lily is almost listed as an endangered species. At one point in time, lilies were found abundantly in the wild. The beauty of the flower has drawn attraction from humans to cut down almost all wild lilies. I hope we can revive the population.
As our journey winds down, we end with a few fun facts.
Lilies are fantastic attractors and heavy pollinators. The powerful fragrance attracts bees, hummingbirds, flys and butterflies to its sweet, tasty nectar.
Lily beetles eat lilies. If you don’t see the little red beetles, you will see small chewing holes in the leaves. This is a sign the lily beetle has arrived. Evict these beetles immediately using a natural parasitoid. They will cause nothing but harm.
Last, but certainly not least, I’d like to share some of my lilies (below). One of them is about 6 feet tall and grows right through our front bush!
See ya next time.
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