A lot to offer

Lilium nepalense.
Lilium nepalense.
From an amenity horticulture point of view some plant families have a lot more to offer than others. 

The lily family, botanically called Liliaceae, is a popular plant group among the gardening fraternity.

Liliaceae has about 16 genera and altogether several hundred different plant types or species.  Some of the more well-known genera in the family include garden favourites such as tulips (Tulipa), dog’s-tooth violets (Erythronium), giant Himalayan lilies (Cardiocrinum), Fritillaria, and the beautiful lilies (Lilium). There are about 100 different species of Lilium and many, many cultivars. 

Lilies are a perennial that grow from a bulb.  They make excellent garden plants in many different types of borders, be it rock garden, perennial borders or woodland areas.  Lilies are often showy and usually have a wonderful rich, spicy fragrance.  The flower stem frequently has several flower buds which open in succession.  These attributes, plus their ability to last well in a vase, make them popular with the cut-flower industry for floral arrangements.

Lilies are quite easy to grow and enjoy positions in full sun.

• Keep the bulbs cool by planting to provide shade at soil level.

• You can propagate lilies most easily by division of the bulbs or by "growing on" the bulbils, formed on the stem.

• Lots of plants have lily in their common name but aren’t true Lilium, (water lily, lily of the valley, daylily).

• Find examples of beautiful, rare and common lilies growing in the Dunedin Botanic Garden camellia collection and other collections through the garden.

- Marianne Groothuis is the camellia and theme collection curator at Dunedin Botanic Garden

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