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Lily lovers can look for new hybrids to bring fragrance, color and height to gardens

Five large lily bulbs with roots on the ends lay on brown soil with a shovel nearby.
Lena_Zajchikova/Getty Images/iStockphoto
Giving and receiving lilies as a gift is a ubiquitous sign of spring. Lilies grow well as indoor house plants but many new hybrids do great outdoors and can add color, height and fragrance to your flower gardens.

Mentioned in religious texts and pagan traditions alike, flowering bulbs like the lily can signify rebirth and new beginnings.

In early spring, trumpet lilies are often given as gifts and associated with the Easter holiday, hence the "Easter lily" moniker.

And growing these flowering lilies outdoors can add big visual impact to gardens, with their height and vibrant colors. Certain types also come with a heady fragrance.

Aside from trying to plant trumpet lilies, several other lilium or bulb lilies grow well and bloom early.

Asiatic lilies grow on a shorter plant with very colorful, trumpet-shaped flowers and tend not to have a fragrance.

A new Asiatic lily cross, called, L.A. Hybrid is a cross between the Asiatic and the Easter lily types. These have bright colors and the Easter lily fragrance.

The second one to bloom in the season is the tall and hearty tiger lily. These are the classic ones that grow up five or even six feet tall with freckles on the yellow, orange or red petals.

These look stunning in your gardens but note that tiger lilies also readily self-sow. As they grow, small black pods between the tiger lily leaves and stems called, "bulbils" form.

When the bulbils drop to the soil, they will grow new tiger lilies. Keep an eye on those if you don't want the tigers to take over your garden space.

Another type to grow is the Oriental lily. Think Stargazer, Pink Pearl and Casa Blanca, with beautiful pastel colors, large open flowers and that signature heady fragrance.

More on lily pests from Vermont Public: Don't let the red lily leaf beetle derail your lily-planting plans this spring.

A new hybrid version is a cross between the Oriental lilies and the trumpet lilies, called, OrienPet. These grow more vibrant than a regular Oriental lily, but it has that fragrance on a tall plant.

With all of these lily crosses and hybrids, the key it to put them in full sun and in an area with well-drained soil.

Once they establish, they are carefree except for one major problem: the red lily leaf beetle. This beetle comes out of the ground as soon as the lilies come up and attacks the Asiatic and Oriental lilies in particular.

The beetle lays eggs on the undersides of the leave which hatch into slug-like larvae that feed on the leaves.

To avoid the beetle, try resistant varieties like Madame Butterfly and Black Beauty. Otherwise, don some plastic or rubber gloves, hand pick the red beetles from the leaves and crush the larvae.

Jeannie from Montpelier with a question on forcing plum branches to flower.

Q: I'm wondering what tips you have for forcing flowers on woody stems, especially plums. I've had really variable success with them. They're such early bloomers, but often either they never bloom or when they open, the flowers are really tiny. - Jeannie, in Montpelier

A: Forcing flowering branches indoors can tend to produce small flowers like you're saying, but if you want to try to enhance that flowering a little bit, treat the branches like a cut flower.

When you bring the branches in, re-cut the bottoms underwater. Then add some floral preservative like you get from a cut flower grower or a florist.

Place the branches in a warm room in the sun and hopefully that's going to give you a more robust forced-flowering from those plum branches!

All Things Gardening is powered by you, our audience! Send your gardening questions and conundrums and Charlie may answer them in upcoming episodes.

You can also leave a voicemail with your gardening question by calling Vermont Public at 1-800-639-2192.

Hear All Things Gardening during Weekend Edition with Vermont Public host Mary Williams Engisch, Sunday mornings at 9:35.

Have questions, comments or tips? Send us a message or get in touch by tweeting us @vermontpublicWe've closed our comments. Read about all the ways to get in touch here.

Mary Williams Engisch is a local host on All Things Considered.
Charlie Nardozzi is a nationally recognized garden writer, radio and TV show host, consultant, and speaker. Charlie is the host of All Things Gardening on Sunday mornings at 9:35 during Weekend Edition on Vermont Public. Charlie is a guest on Vermont Public's Vermont Edition during the growing season. He also offers garden tips on local television and is a frequent guest on national programs.