Plant collector: Aurelian lilies

The lovely Aurelian lily hybrids

The lovely Aurelian lily hybrids

‘Tis the season of the Aurelian lilies. These are hybrids (so crosses of different species) and fall within the trumpet lily group. Their blooms are indeed shaped like trumpets which face outwards, often dropping a little with their weight. And sweetly scented, though not with the heady intensity of the auratum lilies which are just starting to open.

Aurelians are all hybrids of Lilium henryii. It is orange with reflexed petals (so they curve backwards) and no scent but it is a tough survivor. The original crosses were with Lilium sargentiae from China which is a trumpet species so brought in the flower form along with the fragrance. Now the Aurelians are pretty mixed in terms of breeding but typically flower in shades of yellow and apricot orange. Most will set seed so if you can’t find them to buy, you can at least raise seed if you know of somebody with them. These are seedlings Mark raised to build up numbers for the garden. It can take from 3 to 5 years for seed to reach flowering size.

Like most lilies, these bulbs like humus rich conditions and plenty of sun and moisture. They are quite tall – up to 180cm – so grow them amongst plants that you can prop the lily stems up against or they will need individual staking. Despite very sturdy stems, the weight of the flower heads pulls them over. The number of flowers per stem can vary from one (often an indication of weaker bulbs) up to full heads. The most I have counted is 18.

Aurelian was a Roman emperor and, of course, aureum means golden in Latin.

First published in the Waikato Times and reprinted here with their permission.

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  1. Pingback: January bulbs for mid summer | Tikorangi The Jury Garden

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