Difference Between Asiatic and Oriental Lilies

Many people ask, What is the difference between Asiatic and Oriental lilies? Are these same? No, there is a difference. Main differences between Asiatic and Oriental lilies are discussed regarding their flowering time, shape and colour of flowers, plant height, leaf shape and quality of fragrance.

How to grow lilies
Out of several Lilium species of lilies, Asiatic lilies and Oriental lilies are the most common type of lilies that are grown for garden displays for their very showy and fragrant flowers. Both are hybrids, they have some common characteristics, but how to tell the difference between these two lilies.

Asiatic lilies are the hybrids of many different Lilium species and originated from several areas of Asia, whereas Oriental hybrids were developed from only a few species native to Japan.

I grew both the lilies this spring so I can now distinguish between Oriental and Asiatic lilies.

Asiatic Lilies Vs. Oriantal Lilies

You can distinguish between different lilies by considering the following.

Lily Flowers

Both the lilies are easy to grow although Orientals are a bit trickier. Whereas Asiatic lily flowers are usually with no fragrance, Oriental lilies are heavily scented, with much larger flowers. For some people the ;fragrance is unpleasant, but I like it.

Flowering Time

Asiatics are early-bloomers beginning in spring, while Orientals flower when the Asiatics have finished in summer and mid fall. So it is a good idea to plant both of them for a longer display in your garden.

Flower Shapes And Colour

Asiatic lilies have the greatest range of flower shape and colours from pastels to Crayola colours except the blue. Except Lollypop, Asiatics usually have a single colour. Orientals blooms are white, yellow and pink, with a different colour on their rims, or with a combination of two or three colours.


Asiatic lily plants reach a height of one to six feet and are easiest to grow and earliest to bloom. On the other hand, the oriental lily plants can go two to eight feet high and bloom from mid to late summer, just when Asiatic lilies are beginning to fade. So it is better to plant both the lilies to have a prolonged display of magnificent flowers.

Oriental Lily Leaf Shape
Oriental Lily Leaves
Asiatic Lily Leaves
Asiatic Lily Leaves

Leaf Shape

Asiatics generally have 4 to 5 inch long shiny and skinny leaves spaced close to one another on the stem. The leaf colour is typically bright green. Oriental leaves, on the other hand, are wider in the middle and longer, and are usually spaced further apart on the stem. Leaf colour is typically dull green.

Growth Rate

An Asiatic bulb can double itself from one year to the next. They produce many smaller offspring near the soil's surface. Oriental bulbs also increase in size with increased number of blooms on taller stems each year. They spread slowly by the bulblets on the stem, produce multiple bulbs from natural division over a period of time, it is better to lift and divide bulbs every 3 to 5 years to avoid over-crowding.

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