Lilies are one of the world’s most easily recognizable flowers. They look beautiful in bouquets of cut flowers, and in planters or your garden. They are long lasting, too.

The beauty of lilies

The common names of flowers can be one of the more appealing and colorful aspects of gardening, but they can also be confusing.

We hate to lose the sentimental charm of common plant names, but there are times when it helps to know the Latin or botanical name, as well. One of those times is when trying to tell the difference between true lilies (Lilium) and daylilies (Hemerocallis).

While Liliums are pretty much always called lilies, many of us casually refer to daylilies simply as lilies, too. For the most part, who cares?

However, if you are looking for a particular plant, or if you’re researching how to grow the plant you have, or perhaps you are wondering why your lilies die when you cut them to bring inside, you will need to be able to tell the difference between lilies and daylilies. Fortunately, it’s easy to distinguish the two plants apart.

A daylily or a lily?

The leaves are a dead giveaway as to which plant you have.

While there are several differences between the two flowers, all you really need to look for is the growth habit of the stems and leaves. Multi-stems with strapping leaves coming from the base of the plant is always a daylily. A single stem with leaves whirling about it is always a true lily.


The beauty of lilies

Daylilies have long, flat strap-shaped blades that grow in clumps from the crown of the plant, at the soil line.

Daylilies grow from about one foot high up to four feet tall.

The beauty of lilies

If you look closely at the flower, you’ll see that six petals are in two layers of three.

The top three are the actual petals. The bottom three are sepals. The center of the flower, the throat, is often a contrasting color. Daylily flowers come in a variety of forms, including circular, triangular, double, ruffled, star-shaped, and spider-shaped.

Older varieties of daylilies need to be deadheaded every day to keep them in bloom. Newer hybrids tend to deadhead themselves. Most plants have multiple buds that will bloom over a period of time.


The beauty of lilies

Lilies are grown from a bulb of overlapping scales. They have one central, unbranched stem that grows from the lily bulb, with the flower buds forming at the top of the stem. The leaves grow around the entire length of the stem. Lilies can grow from about one and 1/2 feet tall to a towering 10 feet.

The beauty of lilies

Lilies always have six petals and six anthers. Each bloom lasts a week or more. The lowest buds on the stem will open first and the remaining buds will open sequentially. If you bring your lilies indoors, consider removing the anthers. The thick pollen can stain anything it falls on or touches.

Lilies flowers also come in a variety of forms, including trumpet-shaped, bowl-shaped, funnel-shaped, and recurved.

What’s in a name?

The beauty of lilies

The word ‘lily’ comes from the Old English phrase lilie, which comes from the Latin term lilium and from the Greek Ieirion. All of these refer to the flower.

In recent years, ‘Lily’ became a popular girls name across the world.

Names like Susanna, Susan and Suzette are also popular. Guess what? They also mean ‘lily’!

The beauty of lilies

The meaning of lilies

Lilies have long been associated with love, devotion, purity and fertility. The sweet and innocent beauty of the flower has ensured it remains tied to the ideas of fresh new life and rebirth.

But while the above meanings are standard associations across the lily family, the meaning of the flower can alter slightly depending on its color.


The beauty of lilies

Orange has always been associated with a refreshing sense of confidence and energy. The bright, bold, show-stopping color speaks to feelings of warmth and positivity around the world.

Orange lilies are commonly given to someone when one wants to extend well wishes or congratulations.

Occasions that might warrant orange lilies include a job well done, the beginning of a new job, moving into a new home, purchasing a new home or car, or any other personal achievement.

The beauty of lilies


The color pink has stood as a symbol of femininity, love, adoration and admiration for as long as can be remembered. Pink lilies are generally sent to close female friends and family members. They are intended to let someone know that one is thinking of them, as well as lending their support during a challenging time.

Pink lilies have also become symbolic of a confidence boost for people struggling with self-esteem. They are representative of friendship, as well. They are often seen as connected to more feminine, caring characteristics and platonic love for one another.


The beauty of lilies

We all know that red is the color of love and passion.

In recent years, the red lily has become a more popular choice as a romantic gift. It has begun to give the classic red rose a run as people look for fresh alternatives!

Red lilies are also symbolic of hard work and determination.

They can be gifted to someone who has just achieved something major after setting a long-term goal, such as a university degree or high school diploma, or perhaps the completion of a marathon.


The beauty of lilies

White lilies are probably the most popular. They are generally the first that come to mind when the flower is mentioned. They’re also symbolic of a feeling of rejuvenation within the soul. White lilies are most commonly used at weddings. These flowers are representative of purity, commitment and rebirth.

In recent years, this meaning has come to be interpreted in several different ways, which is why the flower is now are often sent as sympathy flowers. They are a symbol of strength and support to those in mourning.


The beauty of lilies

Yellow lilies are symbolic of numerous things, as the color typically has positive feelings attached. These include new beginnings, a sense of freshness, happiness, loyalty and sunshine.

The color awakens plenty of symbolism, which is why yellow lilies serve very well as flowers to say “thank you.” They also serve well as a symbol of friendship, unity and togetherness.

In general, yellow flowers are gifted between friends to show their love and appreciation for one another.

SuEllen’s Floral Company can create a beautiful arrangement to suit your purposes for any occasion and in any price range. 

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