Skip to Content

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.

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

Parent lily before pollination

Change of Lily Colors – Bees or Genetics?

This is Jennie’s 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

Share on Social Media

Joan Giammarino

Thursday 23rd of July 2020

I had 5 different colored asiatic lilies which I planted about 20 years ago (pink, yellow, orange, red, white). The last few years they have all completely changed to a two-tone orange-red flower. So weird.

Leanna Quintana

Friday 4th of June 2021

@Joan Giammarino, Thank goodness I decided to Google this change. I thought I was delusional! I told my son, the lillies used to be pink and white, now they're all yellow! A different smell too! Beautiful but unexpected.

Joette Thomas

Saturday 27th of June 2020

I have so appreciated reading this thread, in my search for an explanation for my lilies completely changing colour! Last year I bought a sole orange lily for my window boxes- and this years I have two pink/red ones, and the original plant has just today opened the first of its 4 WHITE flowers! They are in two window boxes- the pink/red in both- including one shoot from the original orange bulb. Maybe cross pollination- but the only other lilies I see from my window are a neighbors orange ones, in window boxes on a neighboring building. Mother Nature is so fascinatingly unpredictable!!

Linda

Sunday 28th of June 2020

I have lilies in 6 different tubs. . Some tubs had white, one very pale pink, one burgundy. They were all different variety’s. They have all come out beautifully but are all burgundy! I have one pot of a tall variety that I am waiting to see what colour they will be hopefully very pale pink. So very strange I will have to buy more white ones

Maureen

Thursday 25th of June 2020

I moved around some of my orange tiger lillies, now I have three different colors! beautiful.I thought it was the soil.

Dee Bostic

Saturday 27th of July 2019

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

Saturday 27th of July 2019

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.

Jordan Henderson

Friday 19th of July 2019

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

Disclosure of Material Connection: Some of the links in the post above are "affiliate links." This means if you click on the link and purchase the item, I will receive a small commission from the sale, but the price is the same for you. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."