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Flower Facts: Types of Lilies, Flower Meaning, and More

Lilies are one of the bestselling flowers of all time. Learn all about what sets each type of lily apart, the flower meaning behind its colors and in different cultures, and how to make them last longer in cut flower arrangements.

Fast Facts About Lilies

Kingdom: Plantae – Plants
Subkingdom: Tracheobionta – Vascular plants
Superdivision:  Spermatophyta – Seed plants
Division:  Magnoliophyta – Flowering plants
Class:  Liliopsida – Monocotyledons
Subclass:  Liliidae
Order:  Liliales
Family:  Liliaceae – Lily family
Number of recognized species: 108

Most Popular Types of Lilies

Lilies are classic flowers that never go out of style. With large, showy blooms that come in bright colors, they rank second on the list of best-selling cut flowers by the Daily Beast. Based on the article, there are 113,162,000 lily flower stems sold during special occasions, such as Mother’s Day, which amounts to a whopping 77,382,000 U.S. dollars.

They are a favorite focal flower in many styles of flower arrangements and favored by a growing number of brides for their wedding bouquet. The most popular types of lilies are:

  • Stargazer Oriental Lily
  • Casablanca Oriental Lily
  • Turk’s Cap Martagon Hybrid
  • Easter Lily Longiforum Hybrid
  • African Queen Trumpet Hybrid
  • Forever Susan Asiatic Hybrid
  • Madonna Candidum Hybrid

What Are True Lilies?

It’s important to establish that not all flowers that have “lily” on their names are true lilies. This can be confusing when we think of water lily, daylily, Calla lily, and Lily of the Valley. These are all not true lilies, by the way.

So, how can you tell whether a flower is a true lily or not?

First of all, the flower should be botanically listed as part of the Lilium flowering plant family. If a quick online search of the flower in question reveals a different scientific name, it is not a true lily at all. For instance, the scientific name of Calla Lily is Zantedeschia aethiopica and Daylilies are actually Hemerocallis.

When it comes to their physical looks, true lilies are bulb-type flowers. They have six petals and six antlers. They can grow from less than 1 feet to 10 feet in height.

Lily Species and Hybrids

The World Checklist of Selected Plant Families recognizes 108 unique species of lilies, which are subdivided into the following genera:

  • Martagon
  • Pseudolirium
  • Liriotypus
  • Archelirion
  • Sinomartagon
  • Leucolirion
  • Daurolirion
Lily species have been propagated and cultivated immensely over time and have produced perhaps hundreds of equally stunning lily hybrids. They are divided into the following divisions:
  • Asiatic Hybrids
  • Martagon Hybrids
  • Candidum Hybrids
  • Longiflorum Hybrids
  • American Hybrids
  • Trumpet and Aurelian Hybrids
  • Oriental Hybrids
  • Interdivisional Hybrids

Lily Flower Meanings

    Basically, there are beautiful flower meanings behind all types of lilies. These exquisite flowers are the embodiment of beauty, grace, sophistication, royalty, and rebirth.

    Just like other flowers, the flower meanings can change depending on the petal’s colors. If you love gifting floral arrangements to friends and family as much as we do, we suggest you familiarize yourself with the special meanings behind this blooms. Check these out:

    • White Lily - Clean and immaculate, it symbolizes purity, innocence, modesty.
    • Yellow Lily - Bright and cheerful, yellow lilies represent happiness, gratitude, good health, and healing.
    • Red Lily - The color of blood, red lily desire, passion, and romance.
    • Pink Lily - A feminine color, pink lilies can mean grace, prosperity, and abundance. The pink, striped stargazer lily specifically means ambition.
    • Orange Lily - These flowers stand for confidence, wealth, and encouragement.

    Lily Flower Meaning in Greek Mythology

    In Greek mythology, it is believed that the lily flower bloomed from the breastmilk of the goddess Hera, wife of Zeus. This is why it is regarded as the flower of purity, motherhood, and abundance. In fact, they say this is the reason behind why most brides and women wore flower crowns, which were extremely popular during the ancient times, made of lilies and other flora and foliage back in the day.

    Lily Flower Meaning in the Victorian Era

    In search of medicinal plants, Augustine Henry, a remarkable European explorer, stumbled upon lilies. He was so captivated by the showy flower that he decided to dedicate his expedition to look for more types of lilies. Lilium henryi, more popularly called Tiger Lily or Henry's lily, which is an exotic lily native to the mountains of central China, was actually named in his honor.

    A prized flower beloved by many cultures, the lily was deemed a flower fit for royalty during the Victorian times. It is claimed that the iconic fleur de lis was roughly inspired by a flower from the Lilium family.

    Because of its queen-like beauty, the Victorian Flower Dictionary wrote that people during that period in history actually adorned themselves with gorgeous lilies. They wore it on their hair, pin it to their ball gowns, and pose in photographs holding a bouquet of lilies.

    Are Lilies Poisonous to Cats or Dogs?

    Yes. Unfortunately, true lilies are super toxic to pets. Exposure to dogs and cats can cause indigestion, vomiting, irreversible kidney damage and renal failure, which can lead to death.

    Lily poisoning is a serious matter for cats and dogs. The treatment is intensive and usually involves intravenous fluid therapy and hospitalization for a significant amount of time.

    Naturally curious, pets couldn’t help but stick their naughty paws to new things they see, such as flowers and plants.  This is why as a responsible pet parent, you should be very careful when buying flowers for your home. Though this doesn't mean you can't indulge yourself once in a while. There are many pet-friendly flowers and non-toxic indoor plants that you can choose from.

    These two articles are a must-read for every pet owner:

    The same amount of precaution should be applied when taking your cat or dog for a walk in the park or letting them roam around the neighborhood where lilies are usually grown as ornamental garden plants.

    If you suspect that your pet may have consumed a poisonous plant, such as true lilies, we suggest you bring him or her to your veterinarian immediately. It is also helpful to educate yourself about the toxic plants and flowers to protect your pet effectively. Check out the website of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA).

    Lily Flower Arrangement: How to Get the Buds to Open Faster

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    Cut lilies are usually arranged and delivered to you while the buds are still closed, which is awesome because this means you can watch it bloom before you and your floral arrangement going to last for a longer time.

    On the other hand, if you’re not the patient type and can’t wait to see the lily buds open up, here’s a trick you might want to try.

    With a sharp knife or scissors, cut the stem at least half an inch or more in a slanted angle. Put the lily flowers into a vase filled with lukewarm water. Although it’s not always ideal, more water boosts the pressure on the flowers to open up. For more tips, you can also read: How To Make Cut Flowers Last Longer.

    Love having stunning flowers around the house? Orchid Republic offers customizable floral subscription packages and same day flower delivery in Los Angeles and Orange County.

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