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What is a Regal Lily?

By Deborah Walker
Updated May 16, 2024
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A Lilium regale, or regal lily, is a species of bulbous, perennial plant in the Lilium family. It grows natively in western Szechuan, China, but has been introduced to other temperate areas around the world. Regal lily is quite easy to care for and is a good choice for the beginning gardener. This lily species can be grown in garden beds or containers as an ornamental plant. Modern lilies are fairly resistant to disease and common garden pests.

Regal lilies grow well in U.S. Department of Agriculture Hardiness Zones 3-8. This means that they will survive in temperatures as low as -40° Fahrenheit (39.9° Celsius). Lilies prefer to grow in well-drained, fertile soil with a pH level between 4.5 to 7.0, which is acidic to neutral. These plants should be grown in full sun with some afternoon shade. Some lily experts say that the ideal location is where the roots are shaded at the same time the blooms are in sunlight.

This species of lily grows to be 36 to 48 inches (90-120 cm) tall. From late spring to early summer, the regal lily produces white-petaled, trumpet-shaped blooms with yellow centers. Flowers are between 3 to 6 inches (76-150 mm) long. They are very fragrant and long lasting. The shiny, deep green foliage is long and slender.

Regal lily adapts easily to life in a container garden or can be grown directly in the ground. Bulbs can be planted in the spring or in the fall. When the blooming season has ended and the foliage and the stems have turned brown, the plant can be cut back nearly to the ground. Every 2-3 years, the bulbs should be divided and transplanted to a new location.

Two main pests attack the regal lily. These are slugs and the red lily beetles. Slugs will attack as soon as new growth pops through the ground. Beer traps or citrus rinds may successfully capture the slugs. Container gardens can be rimmed with copper tape, which prevents the slugs from getting into the plant.

The red lily beetle eats the leaves of the regal lily. Without the leaves, the plant will be starved for food, may not flower, and can even die. Gardeners should watch for red lily beetle larvae beginning in the spring, through the summer, and into the fall. The best way to get rid of the larvae is to pick them off of the plant by hand. This usually works better than an insecticide.

The regal lily is susceptible to tulip breaking virus, cucumber mosaic virus, and lily symptomless virus. Any of these can cause mottling or streaking of the leaves or petals, may stunt growth, and weaken the plant. Regal lily may also get basal rot or boytrytis blight, which attack the bulb, leaves, stems. Gardeners should watch for outbreaks of disease to be sure that their gardens stay healthy and beautiful.

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