Lilium Scarlet Delight, Orienpets, Red Lily Beetles

There are approximately 110 distinct wild species of lilium and well over 9,000 hybrids. One of these hybrids, Lilium Scarlet Delight, began opening yesterday in my side garden:


This fascinating group of lilies is derived from crossing Trumpet types with Orientals into a category known as Orienpet or O.T..  Due to their complicated breeding history, this American hybrid blooms earlier in the season and imparts the most magnificent scent!  Seriously, my entire yard is redolent with the perfume from a single open flower!

Orienpets also have excellent disease resistance and naturalize quickly. The flower texture is waxy, and the stalks quite sturdy, as seen in the next photo.  I love a plant that no longer requires staking! 🙂

20130605_082806Click here to compare last year’s bloom.

As these bulbs mature and enlarge, the stems should produce additional flowers by branching off and growing at least 3-4′ tall.  Side note: my garden is located on the cusp of zone 10 but “Scarlet Delight”  is hardiest if planted in zones 5-9.  I’m not 100% sure how excessive heat/sun will affect its long term growth.

Before I close, I’d like to mention a pest that plagued my Massachusetts lily garden,  but so far hasn’t been an issue in Florida.  If you live in northern climes, I’m sure you’ve seen the damage wrought by Red Lily Beetles aka Lilioceris Lilii:


This hungry pest arrived in Cambridge (MA) via flowers shipped from Montreal in 1992 and spread steadily westward to other temperate states.  Although I didn’t take the above photo, it accurately depicts my old lily garden…every part of my plants was on the menu and consumed with no regard for savoring the moment 😮 Those dang bugs worked FAST!!

The worst damage from the Lily Leaf Beetle occurs (right now!) as the mothers’ eggs hatch and enter the larval stage These larvae have brownish bodies with black heads.  To keep predators away, they carry their excrement on their backs, leaving brown smudges as they spread up the stems toward the flower buds.  Ewwww!   After 2 to 3 weeks at the “buffet”  the larvae return to the soil for a 3 week pupation period before starting the process all over again!

So….how do you keep up with these infestations?   My favorite methods included dousing the garden weekly with Neem oil sprays and “squishing”….but neither worked well enough! Sad but true…they definitely beat me!

If you live in Connecticut or Rhode Island, there are two lily beetle management studies underway and both need the help of home gardeners. To learn more (or volunteer) check out these links:

University of Connecticut Integrated Pest Management, Red Lily Beetle

University of Rhode Island Bio-control Lab, Red Lily Beetle

Until next time……


17 thoughts on “Lilium Scarlet Delight, Orienpets, Red Lily Beetles

  1. I’m thinking about the Orienpets. I used to have the Oriental Casa Blanca but they all succmbed to the long, wet winter. Sniff! Not sure if I should try Casa Blacas again or go for the Orienpets.

    • The orienpets do seem somewhat indestructable. I know when I lived In MA, i had a lot of trouble with rotting asiatic bulbs, too. What the snow didn’t destroy the red lily beetle did…it was a very sad affair all around!

  2. I haven’t tried this lily, but it looks lovely. Here, I’m between zones three and four, but I can sometimes cheat a five by mulching in the winter and planting on my warm south wall. Thanks!

    • isn’t it amazing how well we get to know the microclimates around our own yards! I swear that was the ONLY way I kept alot of things going year after year up north…watching closely and remembering exactly how far away from protection was too far….those two things made all the difference! Much of having a green thumb can be attributed to being highly observant!

  3. Apparently the red lily beetle originally came from Europe and Asia where it has natural predators that keep it in check. The beetles arrived in my garden in Alberta (Canada) about 5 or 6 years ago. I pick the red beetle off and drop it in a small bucket of soapy water. If I am diligent at this effort starting about now, then damage is quite minimal.

  4. I use a heavy soap based liquid (no chemicals) to spray my plants… keeps most of the baddies away… maybe they don’t like soap in their diet…

    • The first time I tried the soapy spray method I kind of destroyed my garden! I never did figure out why…perhaps I used the wrong type of detergent? Since then I’ve bought horticultural oil sprays (Neem under various brand names depending on sales etc) but I always wondered what went wrong with me and the soap!

    • Yes, you will be in such a good climate for that!
      Thanks so much for taking the time to pop in with comments…I know how busy you must be getting everything squared away for the move!

  5. Your lilies are lovely.
    Them bugs are some gnarly critters. I’m like you, I use natural methods, but I bring out the big guns if the plants get overwhelmed.

    • Hi E.C.!
      I think everyone resorts to the Sevin Dust or similar every once in awhile..I think I’ve used it only a few times in the 3.5yrs I’ve been in FL., and it was when things got way ahead of me due to circumstances out of my control.
      Everything must be growing well for you now? I’ll be popping in tomorrow to read your latest posts. 🙂

  6. Every year those bugs infest my Heleniums! Now I know what will control them! I had been using just a plant soap spray, which works Ok, but seems to be a temporary fix.

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