Lily (Lilium sp.)

(memengwaanh-onaagaans and wenabozho-obikwak)

Lilium canadense flower

Zone: 5 to 7 (See notes below)

Soil: Sand to clay

Light: Full sun to part sun

Bloom colour: Yellow, orange and red

Bloom period: summer

Height: Up to 6 feet (see species notes)

Moisture: medium to wet

Attracts: Hummingbirds


Everyone likes lilies because of their huge and striking flowers, but it is rare to see gardens planted with native specimens. Generally, I see Asiatic species here in Canada, which is a shame because the species native to Ontario are beautiful indeed. Lilies have very large flowers that are surrounded by 3 outer and 3 inner tepals. The six conspicuous stamens are covered with copious amounts of orange red pollen. The Canada lily is yellow with somewhat recurved tepals while the Michigan lily has orange-red tepals that are far more recurved. Both of these plants flower in early summer and both are pollinated by hummingbirds

Typically, lilies prefer moisture, but Lilium philadelphicum is the most drought tolerant can be planted in a wider variety of conditions. It grows naturally in mountain regions and on alvars where it is subject to periodic drought. Due to its slow growth, it needs tender loving care for the first few years. Lilium canadense and Lilium michiganense need consistently moist soil and if you do not have the right conditions, they will grow perfectly well in containers. The easiest to grow is Lilium canadense and this is where I would begin if you are starting your foray into growing Lilies, but this may be harder to find in a commercial nursery.

L. canadense, michiganense and philadelphicum grow to about 6 feet, 4 feet and 2 feet respectively, so they need to be positioned in the appropriate part of the flower bed.

The biggest headache with growing any lily is the introduction into N. America of the horrible faeces-covered lily beetle that will eat the plant down till there is nothing left. This means that these plants have to be constantly monitored in the garden. You cannot miss these beetles or the larvae because they are bright red.

Lilium canadense
Llium canadense
Lilium canadense
Close up of Lilium stamens
Lilium canadense
Lilium michiganense
Lilium michiganense
Lilium canadense
Canada lily in a container with Grey Sedge
Lilium michiganense
Lilium michiganense