'Hello Dolly' Asiatic Lily

"Lilies are still lilies, pulled
By smutty hands."

-Elizabeth Barrett Browning


The species from which this red hybrid is primarily derived is the Japanese native Trumpet Lily, which contrary to the cultivar is naturally pure white.

To arrive at this variety's striking color, a nameless Asiatic lily (L. asiatica) which had been crossed with the 1935 introduction L. longiflorum 'Slocum's Ace' was artificially pollinated with mixed pollen from several pastel Asiatic lilies.

LilyThe result was dubbed 'Hello Dolly' which reached the marketplace in 1994. It is maroon within, maroon-red deeper in the throat, & faint spotting at the furrows of the nectaries. The outside is maroon-red. It is stalky & strongly upright.

It is here pictured consecutively in June 2005 & 2004. Though not quite a dwarf like the Elf Lily, it is nevertheless smaller than most trumpet or asiatic lilies by half, generally not more than about three feet tall.

'Hello Dolly' blooms late spring or early summer, on average for the entire month of June. Rebloom in autumn is not guaranteed, but possible.

In winter, there is a risk of bulb rot in wet & poorly draining soils. Ours is planted against a wooden fence, the other side of which is a ten foot cliff drop-off, so the garden gets sharp drainage. In spring & summer it should have moderate watering. Every three years it should be lifted & the bulbs divided.

Whoever named this variety must have been a Carol Channing fan, for she practically defined the titular role of the Broadway play, & reprised her best-known 1964 role for yet another revival in 1994, when the 'Hello Dolly' lily was released. The carrot-red wig she wore when playing Dolly supposedly matched the color of the lily. Carol by the way was born in my home town of Seattle, so a lily named for her famous role is particularly nice around here.


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