Did Bees Cause This Lily to Change Colors?

Bees are extraordinary creatures. They move from plant to plant transferring pollen, making sure that the species thrives.  They are so necessary in our gardens and it is a shame that their numbers are decreasing in part due to huge mega farming operations, loss of their habitats and pesticide use.

Parent lily before pollination

Change of Lily Colors – Bees or Genetics?

One of the Fans of the Gardening Cook on Facebook, Jennie Alaya, has shared two extraordinary photos showing the change of color that she believes the bees have had on the original parent lily.

This is her original lily, before bees mixed pollen from a near by stargazer lily into the parent plant.  Notice how the colors are subdued and very creamy overall.

The next photo shows the dramatic change.  It is the same lily but a new bulb and shows the flower that has changed color.  Look at the difference in color!

Lily after pollination by bees with stargazer pollen.

Jennie says that “streaks appeared in 4-5 of the flowers last year. This year, they are in nearly all of the offshoot bulbs from parent bulb. The peach bulbs were planted 6-7 yrs ago,  and the stargazers about 4-5 yrs ago. Bulb clumps (off parent plant) are full bulbs now, not bulblets, so the colors are very noticeable. The lilies are in 2 different gardens, about 20 ft apart.”

Was it the bees?  Perhaps, but there could be other reasons too.

For hybrid lilies to be created, a male and a female parent was needed.  It is possible that one parent was white and one purple and the bees did not make the change but the original parents did.

It is also possible that the purple lily probably was the stronger genetically and has slowly reverted the hybrid to it’s color.  The whole clump may be pink next year!

If the lily is not sterile and the bees pollinate the bloom, the bloom produces seeds that are not sterile.  These seeds can be released and be transferred.  Plants springing up nearby might be either color as well.

Whatever caused the  color change, there is no denying that it is dramatic.  Thanks so much for sharing the story Jennie!

Dramatic lily color change

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  14 comments for “Did Bees Cause This Lily to Change Colors?

  1. Karen
    07/23/2017 at 11:19 pm

    This is interesting. My pink lilies all came up yellow this year, I mean complete color change.

    • Carol
      07/24/2017 at 10:57 am

      Hi Karen. I’ve had it happen to hydrangeas but never to lilies. Carol

    • Marge
      07/22/2019 at 2:24 pm

      I have had three different coloured lilies growing in a pot for three years. One was white, one pink and one red. This year all are yellow. I suppose they have reverted to a parent colour somehow. One or two small bulblets appeared at the base this year which I have just removed and planted elsewhere.

  2. Elaine
    05/21/2019 at 8:04 pm

    My lilies that were a dark red last two years (and I was so happy to finally have red lilies) are all yellow this year. I wish I could change them back… have other yellow lilies so maybe the bees did it!! Just really weird that they have all changed color.

    • Carol
      05/21/2019 at 10:06 pm

      I once had two entire huge sections of Black eyed Susan turn into a plant with entirely different leaves and purple fuzzy flowers. It blew my mind. Nature is odd. Carol

    • Charlene
      07/27/2019 at 3:58 pm

      My day lilies were orange when I bought my condo 6 years ago. A few in another part of my yard were bright yellow and I loved them. This year all my lilies are a beautiful bright yellow. Awesome

      • Carol
        07/27/2019 at 4:31 pm

        So many people have said that this happened to them. It makes me think it’s cross pollination.

  3. Annika
    07/04/2019 at 6:54 am

    My seven year old orange lilies are dark purple this year!

    • Shawna Robertson
      07/06/2019 at 6:22 am

      Annika – Mine are dark too! I got them from my mother’s garden 4 years ago & they were/continued to be a light orange… This year they are a deep burgundy!

  4. Jan Belmont
    07/17/2019 at 8:59 pm

    I have a garden with burgundy/red lilies, cream colored ones and orange ones. This year I have a single plant with mainly reddish orange petals and cream colored stripes!
    Is it possible this could be a hybrid combination from the others?

    • Carol
      07/18/2019 at 2:01 pm

      it could be the way they were pollinated. Sometimes soil ph can have changes on color. I once had 2 clumps of black eyed Susans turn into a completely different purple colored plant and am still mystified by this.

  5. Jordan Henderson
    07/19/2019 at 9:46 am

    hi my lillies are the same last year they where a gorgeous bright orange this year one set has went light orange while the rest of them have all turned white.
    and in the other pot next they where once orange now they are all white.
    seems as if they havent opened either to there usual selfs.
    looks asthough they have opened half way and stopped

  6. Dee Bostic
    07/27/2019 at 5:23 pm

    Have four patches of multi colored Lillies. There are 2 or three original colors in each bed this year but the rest are a beautiful yellow. Do you think they will change color back to their original?
    I’m convinced it is lack of pollination as my Cucumbers are not maturing properly.

    • Carol
      07/27/2019 at 7:33 pm

      it’s hard to say how any plant will act over time, but once the color has changed, in my experience, it does not revert back.

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