How to Plant Lilium

Lilium, also called lilies grow from bulbs. They are flowering perennials that come in a variety of heights and flower colors. With over 100 varieties to choose form, you are bound to find the ones you want to plant in your landscape. Lilies are great plants to grow. When they burst into flower, they attract hummingbirds and butterflies to your garden. Homeowners and florists often cut the flowers off to use in arrangements.

Lily bulbs are sold at most garden supply stores, garden catalogs or online. If you or a friend has lilies growing, they multiply rapidly. You can dig them up and transplant them into another area of your garden.

Plant the bulbs as soon as they arrive in the mail, or you bring them home from the store, or dug out of the ground.

If you have never planted lilies before, you will need to find the right location for them to grow. We have lilies growing in the shade, but because they are in the shade, they don’t bloom very much. Choose an area that has full- to partial sun for better growth and flowers.

Prepare the Soil

Prepare the ground with a garden fork or tiller. Add 2 to 3 inches of well-rotted compost into the soil. This will provide nutrients that the lilies need to grow healthy. It also helps with drainage so the plants won’t rot.

Dig the Holes

With a trowel, dig holes that are 6 to 8 inches deep. Keep the width of the holes the same as the bulbs. Each hole should have 6 to 8 inches of space between them.

At the bottom of the planting hole, add 2 teaspoons of bone meal. Bone meal adds phosphorus to the soil that bulbs need to grow. Bone meal is made up of bones that are coarsely ground.

Finding the Top and Bottom of the Bulb

Before you put the bulb in the hole, determine the top from the bottom. The top comes to a point while the bottom is usually flat and fatter. Another way to tell is by looking at the scales of the bulb. The scales will point upward to the top.

Place the bulb into the hole with the bottom root section going in first. Cover the bulbs with amended soil. Do not firm the soil in place.

Mark the Lilium

As you plant each bulb place a marker beside them so you can tell the difference between lilies and weeds growing. If you are planting different varieties of lilies, write with a waterproof marker the names or colors of each one on small garden stakes. This will help you keep track of them.

Water with Care

When you water the soil after planting, only provide enough water to moisten the soil, not saturate it. Do not water the area again until the Lilium are growing.

Begin watering the Lilium after they visible. Once or twice a week, feel the soil to test for moisture. This is done by sticking your finger into the soil up to the second knuckle. If the ground is dry give them some water.


Lilium needs to be fertilized just before, and right after the Lilium blooms. Feed them with a special bulb fertilizer. Do not fertilize your bulbs in the fall. Instead of helping your flowers to grow, it can make the bulbs soft. Always mix and apply the fertilizer according to label directions.

Cut Back

Late in the fall, if you want to cut back the stalks, wait until there is no green showing on the leaves. The green on the leaves means that the plant is still storing up nutrients for the winter.
“Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening”; J. I. Rodale; 1999

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