As I was driving around, I kept seeing out of the corner of my eyes some brilliant flashes of color in various landscapes. I kept wondering what I was seeing so I had to stop and identify what was creating those brilliant flashes. I was pleasantly surprised to discover that the intense colors were plantings of Asiatic lilies. The colors were so vivid and so diverse that it was almost impossible to walk by them and not notice them!
Remember that the terms Asiatic and Oriental lilies are often used interchangeably, but they are definitely NOT the same plants! The Liliaceae family, to which these plants belong, is a huge, diverse and visually stunning group of related plants. The first and easiest way to distinguish between these two types of lilies is to ask yourself when they produce flowers. The typical timing for bloom of Asiatic lilies is in late spring and early summer (June and July). On the other hand, Oriental lilies blooms come on in late summer (August and September).
One of the best ways to tell them apart is to use your nose! The flowers of Asiatic lilies have no fragrance or aroma; while Oriental lily flowers are highly fragrant, emitting a strong, spicy aroma. The huge flowers are 6-9 inches across with colors consisting mostly of red, purple, pink, or white and the petal edges are ruffled!
On the other hand, Asiatic lilies colors are brilliant shades of gold, yellow, orange, rose, pink and white with the petals themselves only having smooth edges. Their flowers are not as large as Oriental lilies only ranging 4-6 inches in diameter. Asiatic lily plants are also shorter than Oriental lilies, growing only to about 2-4 feet tall therefore, they may occasionally need to be staked upright.