Double Oriental Lilies: Do You Love Them Or Hate Them?

– Posted in: Plant info

Last year Longfield Gardens sent some double Oriental lilies for me to try. This year they are coming up gangbusters.

fragrant double Oriental lily Polar Star closeup

‘Polar Star’ was the first to bloom, in mid-July

Double means that instead of a flower having a pistil and stamens, additional petals grow in their place. Some flowers, like peonies, have been double for so long that no one gives it a second thought.

fragrant double Oriental lily Polar Star cluster

‘Polar Star’

But when hybridizers figure out how to breed doubleness in a flower that’s been single for a long time, gardeners have opinions on it. I’ve been posting pictures of these lilies on Facebook, and reaction has been mixed. One friend said instead of ‘Polar Star’ it should be called ‘Frankenlily’. Another friend thought the doubling “ruins the purity of the lines.”
fragrant double Oriental lily Broken Heart closeup

‘Broken Heart’ bloomed next, towards the end of July.

Other gardeners love them. “Normally I would say I do not like double lilies much but I do like the look of that particular one [‘Broken Heart’], one gardener responded.”
fragrant double Oriental lily Broken Heart cluster

‘Broken Heart’ with a matching peony poppy.

Another gardener said, “Love them. Have one in my garden!”
fragrant double Oriental lily Sweet Rosy closeup

‘Sweet Rosy’ just started blooming a couple of days ago.

Why double lilies?

The main reason lilies were bred to be double is that the pollen on the anthers stains clothing and rugs. Some florists actually snip the anthers off before selling their floral arrangements to customers. Was that enough of a reason to go through the years of breeding necessary to make double Oriental lilies a reality? Have you ever had lily pollen stain your clothes?

double Oriental lily Sweet Rosy cluster wonderfully fragrant

‘Sweet Rosy’

What does Kathy think of double Oriental lilies?

I am ambivalent. I am thrilled they have that wonderful Oriental lily scent, and because the flowers can’t get fertilized, the individual blossoms last longer–so the scent does, too. And I notice they catch my eye more from within the house. But–they just don’t look like lilies.

If I were to advise someone about how to use them in the landscape, I’d suggest planting them in a bed where they will be viewed from a distance–where you want big blobs of color, frankly–and preferably where their fragrance will be blown to where you like to sit. But for up close and personal, I like my lilies to look like lilies. I’m going to try some Orienpets next.

20% Off!

Save 20% off any of Longfield Gardens current offerings now until August 20, 2014. Sorry to say, their double Oriental lilies are only offered in the spring, but you can enjoy a a 20% savings on your fall bulb orders by using coupon code CCG20 when you check out. They will also know that Kathy Purdy sent you!

About the Author

Kathy Purdy is a colchicum evangelist, converting unsuspecting gardeners into colchicophiles. She would be delighted to speak to your group about colchicums or other gardening topics. Kathy’s been writing since 4th grade, gardening since high school, and blogging since 2002.

Autumn is a second spring when every leaf is a flower.

~Albert Camus in Albert Camus quotations

Comments on this entry are closed.

Les August 14, 2014, 7:13 pm

Hate is such a strong word, I prefer dislike.

stephany August 14, 2014, 12:47 pm

can these be grown in a pot? I love them but I live in an apartment.

Kathy Purdy August 14, 2014, 3:46 pm

I believe they can be grown outdoors in a pot provided you have a reasonably big pot. Not sure how well they would winter over if you live in USDA Zone 5 or colder.

Frank August 13, 2014, 9:17 am

The double lilies haven’t grown on me yet…. although ‘sweet rosy’ is probably the nicest I’ve seen as of yet! The rest look a little too messy for my taste, especially when you compare them to the elegant perfection of a single lily.
I don’t think it’s an anti-double thing, who out there can say a double rose is ugly?

LESLIE SHIELDS August 12, 2014, 2:49 pm

I like them sort of the way I like the double hemerocallis. Think of them as a different plant. Your points about lasting longer and having a wonderful scent makes them interesting and no pollen is a plus(too many stains)

Donalyn@TheCreeksideCook August 12, 2014, 9:51 am

Ha – you know already of my disdain for double daylilies, and it continues to other lilies as well. They all just look messy to me, and I love the beautiful curves of lilies. I have to admit that the more distant shot is slightly more appealing.

You picked a great summer to be trialing these – all the lilies are really happy this year!

Donna@GardensEyeView August 12, 2014, 8:29 am

I also like the pink more than white…but I like my lilies more like lilies. Not bad for color far away as you say Kathy!

Gabriel T. August 12, 2014, 5:02 am

I think they look fine but I still like the original lilies more. Man-made things cannot match nature’s beauty in my opinion.

Shenandoah Kepler August 11, 2014, 2:25 pm

Whether single or double, they are hard to place in the garden. The various hybrids vary a lot in height and I always have to check what the supplier thinks their height will be before I dig to plant the bulb. Then there is the expense to plant a “drift” effect for such big bulbs. Yes, up close can be a bit much. Yes, I have had the pollen ruin a white linen tablecloth. Oh well…

Carole West August 11, 2014, 12:57 pm

All of these lilies are beautiful, would have been fun to have available back in the day when I was a florist. Favorite would be the Sweet Rosie! I’m going to share this on Facebook. Carole @ Garden Up green

Joanne Toft August 11, 2014, 12:23 pm

I like the pink but not the white. I agree they might be great for big splash of color or maybe a cutting garden. My neighbor always has one garden that is for his wife to cut from. These would be great. I may need to try the Orienpets as well. I wonder if they would like Minnesota winters.