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How to Grow Lilies

Updated on November 22, 2012

Growing Lilies

Lilies are beautiful perennials that are easy to grow and maintain. Knowing how to grow lilies properly is the key to having beautiful lily beds. With proper care, lilies will multiply year after year and create a stunning display of both height and color.

Don't be intimidated by their beauty and daintiness - they are easy to grow and great for beginners.

Lilies can be grown indoor in containers or outside in flower beds. They multiply rapidly each year and are great for borders, back drops and anywhere else your beds need height or color.

tiger lily
tiger lily

About Lilies

Scientific Name: Lilium

There are several types of flowering lilies that come in a variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Here are a few different types of lilies:







American Hybrids



The photo to the right is a Tiger Lily.

Image Source

Lily Description

Most lilies are very similar. They grow as a long stalk with long skinny leaves and blossom for at the top of the stalk. Depending on the lily they may have 3-25 blossoms at any given time.

Lilies vary in colors, size and petal shape. They are beautiful when grown in clumps and can be planted with other flowers to create a stunning display of flowers.

Lily Flowers

Lily flowers vary depending on the type you plant to grow. Lilies can be found in shades of whites, creams, yellows, reds, hybrids, pinks, oranges, purples, and just about any other color you can imagine. Lilies provide endless rainbow of colors to choose from.

As you can see from the photo, lilies come in a shapes, sizes and colors. Image Source

Sun Requirements for Lilies

How Much Sun Lilies Require

Lilies will grow well in part shade or full sun. They will thrive in full shade but may not bloom well. For the best results and to prevent the blooms from fading, plant lilies in indirect sunlight.

Growing Lilies Indoors

growing lilies indoors
growing lilies indoors

Lilies can be grown indoors with bright light. Place lilies near windows that get bright light the majority of the day. Image Source

Water Requirements for Lilies

How to Water Lilies

Lilies need dry to partly dry soil. Lilies will tolerate dry soil for short periods of time but should be deeply watered at least once every two weeks. Overwater will cause bulb rot and kill lilies regardless of their maturity.

How to Plant Lily Bulbs - Planting Lily Bulbs

Lily Sprouting from the Ground

how to grow lilies
how to grow lilies

This is a picture of my asiatic lily emerging from the ground.

Care and Maintenance for Lilies

How to Care for Lilies

As with any bulb plant, need to be planted in a well-drained area. They grow well in sandy soil mixes which will provide good drainage. If using potting soil amend it with sand to prevent moisture buildup.

Do not plant lilies near wet, soggy areas or near areas that receive water run-off such as roof eves, ditches or other water sources.

When to Prune Back Lilies

How to Prune Back Lilies

After lilies flower, allow the leaves to die back naturally. Trim off dead blooms after flowering but allow the leaves and stalks to remain until they die back naturally. This will allow them to gain nutrients for the next season.

Once the foliage has died back reduce watering and cut away it back to the ground. The bulbs will remain dormant in the ground until the next spring.

If you live in mild climates or above USDA Zone 9 or higher you will need to dig the bulbs and chill them manually in the fridge until spring. After spring arrives they can be planted back into the ground.

Lily Putting on a Flower Bud

lily bud
lily bud

This photo shows a lily bud beginning to form. The bud will usually take 2 to 3 weeks to open.

Fertilizing Lilies

How and When to Fertilize Lilies

Lilies do not require much fertilizing. Fertilize once in the spring and fall using a general purpose fertilizer. There is no need to fertilize lilies after the foliage has died back.

Lily Propagation

Propagate Lilies by Division

Lilies can be grown by seeds the have been pollinated. However, it can take a few years to see the first bloom on a lily grown from seed. The best way to propagate lilies is by division.

Dividing lily bulbs is very simple. During the winter or early spring dig up lily bulbs and divide them by gently removing each bulb on the outside of the parent bulb.

To learn more about dividing lilies check out How to Divide Flower Bulbs.

How to Breed Lilies - Hybridizing Lilies

Growing lilies from seed require pollination. When you cross-breed two different lilies, called hybridization, you create a seeds that will produce lily plants that carry on some of the same characteristics as the parent plant but are usually never the same. This is how new colors, shapes and sizes are created. This video will explain lily crossing and how to do it.

Lily Pests and Diseases

Lily Diseases and Pests to Watch Out For

Lilies are typically low maintenance and have few pests or disease problems. Botrytis blight, aphids and spider mites are the most common problems associated with growing lilies.

Share your tips, ideas and suggestions for growing lilies.

What are Your Thoughts on Growing Lilies?

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      Spikey64 5 years ago

      Great lens. Thanks for this advice I am thinking of growing some lillies next summer in my mothers backyard. I had always thought that they were hard to grow but after reading this lens I think I will give it a go.