Planting Lilies: Lily Plants and Bulbs

Get Tips for Starting Lilies from Flowering Bulbs

Woman in the lily garden

Lilies are a favorite in the garden because they are so easy to grow. They bloom from June through September. The bulbs require only a small amount of care and will eventually grow into a large cluster which you can divide. Here are some gardening tips to help you learn how to plant lilies.

  1. When purchasing lily bulbs, look for ones that are plump and that have their roots attached. You can plant your bulbs in either the fall or spring. Regardless of the season you are planting in, you should plant the bulbs as soon as possible. While it is true that they will not go completely dormant, they can dry out if they are not planted in a timely manner. If you purchase lilies in containers from your local home and garden center, you can add them to your garden at any time during the growing season.
  2. When choosing a location for your lilies, keep in mind that they do not like to grow in standing water. Look for an area in your yard with good drainage well before planting lilies. You may also want to research creative gardening ideas to decide where you want to place them amongst your other flowering bulbs and garden plants.
  3. If you have clay soil, add organic matter to it to help improve the drainage for your lily plants. You can also add a bit of gravel to the flower bed to ensure that it will drain properly. 
  4. If you have sandy soil, you should know that it can dry out very rapidly. Add organic matter to it to and cover the ground with mulch to help conserve moisture.
  5. Lilies grow best in an area where they will receive at least six hours of direct sunlight. To get the best look out of your lilies, you should plant the bulbs in groups of three or five, and you should plant identical bulbs together. Space your bulbs between ten and eight inches from each other.
  6. Newly planted fall bulbs should have a heavy layer of mulch added to it before the first freeze of the season.  This will allow the roots the chance to grow longer. Even established lily bulbs appreciate a layer of mulch around November to tide them over until spring.
  7. You should apply a phosphorus-rich, slow-releasing fertilizer in the spring.
  8. Water your lilies early in the morning when possible. If you cannot water your lilies early in the morning, try to water them at their base. This will help reduce the risk of fungal disease afflicting your lilies. In very dry weather, you should water your plants to a depth of six inches once a week.
  9. Deadhead your lily flowers when they fade. Be careful when breaking them off. You do not have to remove the flower stems or leaves.
  10. You can cut back your lilies in late fall or early winter. 


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