The Lily Flower: Origins, Meaning, Symbolism, Colors, and Care Tips.

Lily flowers are some of the most beautiful and elegant flowers in the natural world and make a truly impressive gift that is universally loved. Showcasing a broad array of colors, structures, and symbolism, the lily is a superb single stem gifting flower as well as an anchor flower in more expansive arrangements. Here, we’ll take you through everything you need to know about the lily flower, from their history and origins to lily flower meaning and symbolism as well as the most popular varietals today. Let’s go!

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The Lily Flower

The Lily Flower

Typically blooming from early summer to late autumn the true lily is a perennial plant that boasts scaly bulbs, leafy stems, narrow leaves, and either clustered or singular flowers. The flowers on a lily plant are comprised of six petal-like segments. These six segments tend to resemble a trumpet with a lengthy tube in a few varieties of lilies such as the Easter Lily and Madonna Lilly.  

In other varietals of the true lily plant, the six petal-like segments tend to be reflexed, resembling a turban. Some of the lilies that feature this unique posture include the Turk’s Cap Lily. Not only that, but there are also lilies that have slightly less reflexed segments, giving them the shape of an open bowl. Case in point is the L. auratum and L. umbellatum.


History and Significance of the Lily flower

History and Significane of Lily Flowers

The history of the lily takes us back to around 1580 BC in Crete. Here, in Greek mythology, the lily is believed to have been created from the breast milk of Hera, the wife of Zeus, king of the gods on Mount Olympus symbolizing both purity and immense beauty.  

Lilies still hold great value in Greek culture. In fact, to this day, brides wear crowns made of lilies for the beauty it provides. The significance of lilies wasn’t only limited to Greece, as both the Old and New Testament include a reference to the lily flower. 


Lily Flower Meaning & Symbolism

Lily Flower Meaning and Symbolism

While most cultures viewed the lily as a symbol of purity, there were other cultures that took the lily as a symbol of death and mourning. In these cultures, lilies used to be put on the graves of saints, martyrs, and innocent children. Looking at it from a different point of view, it seems like the lily flower represented a different form of purity for such cultures: the purity in passing. 

The beauty of the lily flower is so enchanting that Augustine Henry, a notable explorer from the Victorian era, ceased his search for medicinal plants to dedicate his explorations to finding the lily flower and all of its types. As a way of honoring his quest, a certain type of lilies by the name of the Orange Lilium Henryi, also known as Henry’s lily, was dedicated to his name. 

Augustine Henry wasn’t the only person enchanted by the beauty of the lily flower. Further down the course of history, Ernest Henry Wilson, the known British explorer, and plant collector searched far and wide in China in search of lilies. E.H. Wilson’s quest resulted in him finding the White Lilium Regale, which you may know by the Regal Lily. 



Stargazer Lilies

Stargazer Lilies were introduced around 40 years ago, and still to this day remains one of the most beloved lilies by enthusiasts of the plant. The flower blends a breathtaking array of colors that combine white, crimson, and pink, in addition to bright red freckles sprinkled on its petals. 

Stargazer Lilies

Calla Lilies

Calla Lilies are native to South Africa. They remain some of the most beautiful flowers you can find and are wildly popular. They’re available in various colors such as white, pink, and yellow.

Calla Lilies

Tiger Lilies

Tiger Lilies are a long-lived species of lilies native to China, Japan and Korea. The orange blooms and black freckles grant this species a very unique look. 

Tiger Lily
Tiger Lily

Turk’s Cap Lilies

These lilies tend to be early-summer bloomers, making them perfect for accenting perennial gardens if you plan to plant. One of the most exotic blooms in the lily family radiating beautiful colors and remarkable fragrances. 

Turk's Cap Lily
Turk’s Cap Lily

Royal Trumpet Lilies

Regale Trumpet Lilies often bloom during mid-to-late summer. These are extremely perfumed flowers that will have your area smelling like a piece of heaven. These are white flowers that feature golden throats and pink-tingled petals. 

Royal Lily
Royal Lily

Lilium Yelloween Lilies

The Lilium Yelloween is known as one of the most reliable cut flowers in the lily family. Its performance doesn’t get hindered even in colder conditions and is grown extensively in many regions.

Lilium Yelloween lily
Lilium Yelloween lily

Lollypop Asiatic Lilies

This lily boasts cherry-pink and white blossoms that look just as sweet as they sound. The Lollypop Asiatic Lily is an early-summer bloomer with large upfacing flowers.

Lollypop Asiatic Lilies
Lollypop Asiatic Lilies

Petal Republic’s flower and plant guides:

Looking for a particular stem or in need of some inspiration on the best blooms for a certain occasion? Check out Petal Republic’s expert buying guides to Roses, Ranunculus, Lilies, Irises, Tulips, Orchids, Carnations, Gerbera Daisies, Gladiolus, and Peonies.  


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We are a floristry, plant, and lifestyle city resource curated by a passionate team of horticulturists, floral & plant enthusiasts, budding designers, and intrepid urban gardeners. We're committed to showcasing the best in floral and plant design, sharing our experience and recommendations on the best blooms and greenery for every occasion, season, and living environment, and spreading our love of the enchanting world of flowers and plants.

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