Everything You Need to Know About Lily Flower Meaning, Symbolism, Types, and Uses
Lily Flowers are rich in history, meaning, and symbolism and showcase a spectacular array of colors and unique structures. These beloved ornamentals make excellent gifting flowers as well and are suitable for a number of occasions throughout the year. Here we’ll take you through everything you need to know about the history and origins of lily flowers, their meaning and symbolism, uses and benefits, and the most popular types grown and gifted today.
Lily Flower Meaning & Symbolism – The Essentials:
In the language of flowers, the Lily has long held the symbolic meaning of fertility, purity, and remembrance. Lily flowers are a time-honored inclusion in memorial arrangements and are considered spiritually symbolic of the circle of life. Individual types of lily flowers and the respective colors of the petals may hold additional meanings.
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
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
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.
Popular Types of Lily flower
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Lily Flower FAQ
What is the spiritual meaning of lilies?
Lily flowers are a time-honored inclusion in memorial arrangements in western cultures and are considered spiritually symbolic of the circle of life. In the language of flowers, the Lily has long held the symbolic meaning of fertility, purity, and remembrance.
What does it mean if someone gives you lilies?
The Lily flower has long been linked with rebirth, motherhood, and fertility and is a popular gift to celebrate life. In China, the Lily Flower is a popular stem to symbolize love and romance and features prominently in wedding celebrations.
Are lilies fragrant?
Lilies are prized for their sweet fragrance. Trumpet Lilies in particular produce a heady scent in the late summer and early fall months.
Do lilies need a lot of sun?
Lily flowers are generally tolerant to a range of light conditions though typically thrive best in full to partial sun.
Are lilies poisonous to pets?
Many lily varieties are considered toxic to pets according to the ASPCA. Ingestion can lead to gastric discomfort and also cause tremors.
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, Goldenrod, Astrantia, Viburnum, Ranunculus, Irises, Tulips, Orchids, Carnations, Gerbera Daisies, Gladiolus, Bluebells, Coreopsis, and Peonies.