The Difference in the Asiatic Lily & the Oriental Lily

Lilies are classically beautiful bulbs that are chosen for important occasions like weddings and Easter. Numerous lily varieties exist, but Asiatic and Oriental lilies are the most common. Whether you are using lilies in your garden or at an event, know the differences and how they influence the look and aroma of each type of lily.

Asiatic lilies often bloom in solid, bright colors.


Besides the difference in height, there are several subtle differences between Asiatic and Oriental lilies. Asiatic lilies are characterized as having brighter colors with a few pastels; blooms are usually solid. Oriental lilies are larger and often shaped like a starfish. These come in white and yellow hues, but also a crimson variety. Oriental lily petals are often bordered with a different color than the petal center.


The smell of your lilies is important, especially if you or guests have allergies. If you're making a bouquet, you may want a stronger scented flower. Asiatic lilies have no aroma, while Oriental lilies have a strong fragrance. Be sure to sample the smell before choosing these as wedding flowers; not all people like the scent.

Growing Habits

Asiatic lilies are the easiest variety to grow. Some single bulbs will double themselves in the next growing season. Asiatic lilies are hardier and reproduce more rampantly; they grow between 2 and 4 feet tall. They produce short bulblets and need no stalking. You will see flowers in June or July.

Oriental lilies don't take root as easily. They reproduce much more slowly, blooming as late as September and no sooner than late July. B&D Lilies recommends only propagating bulblets every three to five years. The stalks of Oriental lilies will grow taller each year, and the plant will put out more blooms. Oriental lilies are taller than Asiatic lilies, often reaching 5 to 6 feet in height.

Growing Conditions

Asiatic lilies can grow in nearly any variety of soil as long as there isn't excess moisture. Oriental lilies need organic soil that is slightly acidic to grow properly. Both varieties need five to six hours of direct sunlight per day, but Oriental lilies need afternoon shade. Mulch and compost are also more important for Oriental varieties.


Asiatic and Oriental lilies are the most common type on the market; both are hybrids. According to Minnesota University, both varieties grow best in full sun and well-drained soil. Mulch and a phosphorus-rich fertilizer are beneficial for all lilies. You should also deadhead both Asiatic and Oriental lilies, leaving the foliage.