The lily (lilium) is a beautiful bulb flower that is widely used in gardens and is also superbly suitable as a cut flower.

Lilies for the garden

Lilies are extremely suitable for planting in the garden. They reach a height of about one meter, and are therefore ideal for planting behind lower plants or shrubs in the border.  The large flowers of the lily also combine well with the fine leaves and sleek shapes of box hedges or the “wild look” of ornamental grasses.  Also in perennial borders with smaller, less showy flowers or flower clusters, it can be very exciting to plant lily bulbs.  There are many more combinations possible with this beautiful bulb, but I’ll write more about that another time.

Lilies are perennials so after flowering they can just stay in the ground.  The bulbs, and the plants will come back year after year.  Lilies often come back bigger and better in subsequent years.

Lily beetle

The reason garden lilies suffered a slight dip in popularity in mainland Europe a few years ago, was a result of the lily beetle. This red beetle and its larvae eat the leaves and flowers of the lily.  When the plague is very large, they could even devour entire plants.

The bulbs you buy now are largely resistant to damage by this rather annoying little creature. When the bulbs are left in the ground, in subsequent years, lily plants can sometimes still suffer from the lily beetle, but this can easily be remedied by spraying the growing plant once or twice with readily available organic products such as Neemoil.  Neemoil is a harmless, environmentally friendly vegetable oil that emits an odor, which confuses the lily beetle and causes it to not being able to recognize the lilies. The oil is available in natural (organic) food stores and on the internet.

Before writing this blog, I visited Vletter and Den Haan, specialists in lily breeding. Professional breeding ensures better, healthier and more beautiful species of lilies.  The beautiful lilies Ercolano and Pirandello in the Bulbs & beyond catalogue also originate from the greenhouses of this well-known Dutch lily breeder.

I would like to thank Rian Vletter and Arie Peterse for the knowledge and information they have shared with me.

If you would like more information or ideas on using lily bulbs for your garden, then please send us and email at or visit our website at

This is the fourth article of a monthly series written bij Cor-Niels van Duijn.  Cor-Niels has been a successful garden designer in Holland for over 15 years.