The ‘white house’ – still going strong

lily casablanca

Lilies have come a long way since I first planted them 40 years ago when they still had a reputation for being rare, expensive and difficult. It was the Asiatic group that was first really transformed and made easy to grow and then, in the 80s, attention turned to the Orientals as lilies changed from exotic garden plants into cheap and easily produced cut flowers. Oriental lilies, based on species such as L. auratum and L. speciosum, had a problem as cut flowers because the flowers faced outwards or even downwards, not easy to pack into plastic sleeves. It is for this reason that most modern Orientals have upward-facing flowers. Nice though these are they are not necessarily better than the outward-facing types for the garden and too many of them are too short of stature for my taste.

So it is good that ‘Casa Blanca’ (meaning ‘white house’) is still going strong and widely available. It cannot be an important commercial cutflower variety though I am sure it is grown as such as a premium variety. In the garden (including in pots) it is a superb lily even though it is hardly new or rare.

It is a tall plant, up to 1.5m high and there can be up to 10 large, pure white flowers per stem though 5-8 is more normal. The flowers open to almost 25cm across and are pure white with a green centre and the rusty stamens are a lovely contrast if you leave them in place. If you do and it rains then the flowers get stained. What makes this flower even better is the wonderful fragrance which is strong and amazing. Most Orientals are fragrant but this seems exceptional to me and I would always choose this one for the border or for a pot. In fact my plants have been in the pots for their third year and are still going strong.

But there is virus in the plants, I am sure, and this is a common problem with most lilies. Like all Orientals, this lily needs a lime free soil to do well. If planted in neutral or alkaline soils Oriental lilies gradually decline which is a shame because they can be long lived.

lily casablanca2

Geoff’s rating

9/10

Garden rating

8/10 (must have acid soil)

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One Comment on “The ‘white house’ – still going strong”

  1. Maria F.
    September 8, 2015 at 1:12 pm #

    Beautiful images Geoff!

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