How To Plant Lilly Bulbs [ Full Guide ]

Lilies are exquisite, flowering plants that embellish gardens with their stunning, vibrant blooms. Planting lily bulbs is a rewarding and enjoyable activity that can bring color and elegance to your outdoor space. Whether you are a beginner gardener or have some experience, understanding the proper steps to plant lily bulbs is essential for successful growth and long-lasting blooms. In this comprehensive guide, we will explore everything you need to know about selecting, planting, and caring for lily bulbs to ensure a flourishing addition to your garden.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Lily Bulbs

Planting lily bulbs involves several key steps, including choosing the right bulbs, selecting an ideal planting location, preparing the soil, and determining the planting depth. Once these aspects are taken into account, you can create an environment in which lily bulbs can thrive and produce stunning flowers. This guide will walk you through the process in detail, offering insights and tips to help you achieve optimal results.

Choosing The Right Lily Bulbs

Before you embark on planting lily bulbs, it’s crucial to select high-quality bulbs that are suitable for the specific type of lily you wish to cultivate. Consider the following factors when choosing lily bulbs:

1. Bulb Size And Quality

  • Opt for healthy, firm bulbs with no signs of mold, soft spots, or damage.
  • Larger bulbs often indicate better flowering potential, so choose larger sizes when available.

2. Lily Variety

  • There is a wide array of lily varieties, each with its unique colors, shapes, and sizes. Select the variety that suits your garden’s aesthetics and growing conditions.

3. Source Of Bulbs

  • Purchase bulbs from reputable nurseries, garden centers, or online retailers to ensure their quality and authenticity.
  • Consider factors such as the lily’s hardiness, sun requirements, and growth habits when choosing the variety that best suits your garden.

Selecting The Best Planting Location

Lilies thrive in environments with specific light, soil, and drainage conditions. When choosing a location for planting lily bulbs, keep the following factors in mind:

1. Sunlight

  • Lilies generally prefer full sun to partial shade. Select a location that receives at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day.

2. Soil Drainage

  • Ensure the planting site has well-draining soil to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to bulb rot.
  • If your soil is heavy or lacks adequate drainage, consider raised beds or adding organic matter to improve the soil structure.

3. Wind Exposure

  • While lilies enjoy good air circulation, excessive wind can damage tall lily stems. Choose a location that strikes a balance between air movement and protection from strong gusts.

Preparing The Soil For Lily Bulbs

The soil in which lily bulbs are planted plays a critical role in their overall health and growth. Preparing the soil properly can improve nutrient availability, drainage, and aeration, providing an optimal environment for the bulbs to establish themselves and flourish.

1. Soil Type

  • Lilies prefer well-draining, fertile soil with a slightly acidic to neutral pH (around 6.0-7.0).
  • Test the soil pH and composition to determine if any amendments are necessary to create an ideal growing environment for lilies.

2. Soil Preparation Steps

  • Begin by clearing the planting area of any weeds, rocks, or debris. This allows lily bulbs to grow without competition for nutrients and space.
  • Incorporate organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure into the soil to improve its structure and fertility.
  • Work the soil to a depth of at least 12 inches to ensure that lily roots can establish themselves easily.

Determining The Planting Depth

Planting lily bulbs at the correct depth is crucial for their successful growth and development. When determining the planting depth, consider the size and type of lily bulbs being planted, as well as the local climate and soil conditions.

1. Planting Depth Guidelines

  • In general, lily bulbs should be planted at a depth that is 2-3 times their diameter. Larger bulbs typically require deeper planting depths.
  • Depth also varies by lily variety, with Asiatic and Oriental lilies often requiring different planting depths due to their bulb sizes and growth habits.

2. Planting Depth Considerations

  • Consider the local climate and soil moisture when determining planting depth. Deeper planting may be suitable in drier climates, while shallower planting can help prevent bulb rot in areas with excessive rainfall.
RELATED  How To Plant Peppermint Seeds [ Full Guide ]

3. Planting Techniques

  • Use a trowel or bulb planter to dig holes of the appropriate depth, spacing the bulbs according to the specific variety’s requirements.
  • Ensure that the bulbs are positioned with their growing tips facing upward, as this is where the stems and foliage will emerge.

Planting lily bulbs involves careful consideration of bulb selection, planting location, soil preparation, and planting depth. By understanding the specific needs of lilies and following the proper planting procedures, you can create an environment that promotes healthy growth and abundant blooms. With attention to detail and thoughtful planning, you can enjoy the beauty of lily flowers in your garden for years to come.

Proper Spacing For Lily Bulbs

Lily bulbs are a popular choice for gardeners due to their stunning blooms and easy care. Planting lily bulbs is a simple process that can be done in either the ground or in containers.

When planting lily bulbs, it is important to consider the proper spacing to allow for their growth and development. Space each bulb approximately 6 to 8 inches apart to give them enough room to spread their roots. This spacing will prevent overcrowding and allow each lily plant to receive adequate sunlight, water, and nutrients.

Planting Lily Bulbs In Containers

If you prefer to grow lily bulbs in containers, it is essential to choose the right size pot to accommodate their growth. Select a container that is at least 12 inches in diameter and has drainage holes at the bottom to prevent waterlogging.

Start by filling the pot with a well-draining potting mix, leaving about 2 to 3 inches of space at the top. Gently place the lily bulb in the center of the pot, ensuring that the pointed end is facing up. Cover the bulb with soil, leaving about an inch of the top exposed.

Water the container thoroughly after planting to settle the soil and provide moisture to the bulb. Place the pot in an area that receives at least 6 hours of sunlight per day. Ensure that the container is adequately watered throughout the growing season, allowing the top inch of soil to dry out slightly between waterings.

Watering And Fertilizing Lily Bulbs

Proper watering is crucial for the healthy growth of lily bulbs. During the growing season, lilies require deep watering to encourage their roots to grow deeper into the soil. They prefer consistently moist soil but not waterlogged conditions.

Water the lily plants thoroughly, ensuring that the water reaches the root zone. Avoid wetting the foliage as it can lead to fungal diseases. It is generally recommended to provide about 1 inch of water per week, either through rainfall or supplemental irrigation.

Fertilizing lily bulbs is essential to provide them with the necessary nutrients for optimal growth and abundant blooms. Before planting the bulbs, mix some well-balanced fertilizer into the soil to provide a good base of nutrients. Look for a slow-release fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 or 14-14-14.

Once the lilies have emerged and are actively growing, you can apply a balanced liquid fertilizer every three to four weeks. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging to determine the correct dosage. Avoid over-fertilizing, as it can lead to weak stems and excessive foliage growth at the expense of blooms.

Mulching Lily Bulbs For Winter Protection

To protect your lily bulbs during the winter months, it is advisable to apply a layer of mulch. Mulching helps to insulate the bulbs and prevents damage from freezing temperatures.

Wait until after the first frost to apply mulch. Start by cleaning up any dead foliage around the lilies and remove any weeds. Then, apply a layer of organic mulch, such as straw, pine needles, or shredded bark, around 2 to 3 inches thick.

Ensure that the mulch covers the soil surface around the lilies but does not touch the stems or bulbs directly. Mulching will not only protect the lilies from cold temperatures but also help to retain moisture and suppress weed growth.

Providing Support For Taller Lily Varieties

Taller lily varieties, such as Asiatic and Oriental lilies, often require support to prevent their stems from bending or breaking under the weight of their blooms. Providing adequate support will help the lilies grow upright and maintain their stunning appearance.

RELATED  How To Plant Strawberries In Strawberry Pot [ Full Guide ]

One effective method of supporting lilies is by using stakes or bamboo canes. Install the stakes or canes around the perimeter of the lily clump, ensuring they are secure in the ground. As the stems grow, gently tie them to the stakes using soft plant ties or twine. Avoid tying too tightly to allow for natural movement and prevent damage.

Another option is to use a plant support ring or cage. Place the support ring over the lily clump when the stems are approximately 6 inches tall. As the lilies grow, they will naturally grow through the support structure, providing stability.

Planting lily bulbs can be a rewarding experience, as these stunning flowers add beauty to any garden. By following the proper spacing guidelines, planting in containers, providing adequate water and nutrients, mulching for winter protection, and supporting taller varieties, you can ensure the healthy growth and abundant blooms of your lily bulbs. With a little care and attention, you will have a vibrant and flourishing lily garden to enjoy for years to come.

Controlling Pests And Diseases

Lilies are exquisite flowering plants that can bring beauty and elegance to any garden. Growing from bulbs, lilies are relatively easy to plant and care for, making them a popular choice among gardeners. Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, planting lily bulbs can be an enjoyable and rewarding experience.

Before planting your lily bulbs, it’s important to be aware of common pests and diseases that can affect these plants. One of the most common pests is the lily beetle. These beetles have bright red bodies with black heads and legs. They can quickly damage lily leaves and flowers by eating through them. To control lily beetles, you can physically remove them from the plants or use organic insecticides specifically formulated for lily beetles.

Another common pest is the aphid. These small insects cluster on the undersides of leaves, sucking out plant sap and excreting a sticky substance known as honeydew. Aphids can weaken lily plants and transmit diseases. To manage aphids, you can use insecticidal soap or a strong blast of water to dislodge them from the plants.

As for diseases, lily diseases such as botrytis blight and lily mosaic virus can be problematic. Botrytis blight causes gray-brown spots on leaves and flowers, while lily mosaic virus results in yellowing and mottling of leaves. To prevent these diseases, ensure good air circulation around the plants and avoid overhead watering, as moisture can promote disease development. If you notice any signs of disease, remove and destroy the affected plant parts.

Deadheading Lily Flowers

Deadheading lily flowers is an important practice that helps prolong the blooming period and encourages the growth of more flowers. By removing faded blooms, you prevent the lilies from diverting energy into seed production, allowing them to focus on producing more flowers.

To deadhead lily flowers, wait until the blooms have completely faded and started to wither. Using a pair of clean and sharp pruning shears, cut the stem just above the first set of leaves below the spent flower. This not only removes the unsightly flowers but also prevents the formation of seed pods.

It’s important to note that if you are growing lilies for seed collection, you should not deadhead the flowers. Allow the flowers to mature and form seed pods. However, if you intend to deadhead, it’s best to do so regularly throughout the blooming season to ensure continuous flower production.

Dividing And Replanting Lily Bulbs

Lilies can benefit from being divided and replanted every few years. This not only helps rejuvenate the bulbs but also allows you to propagate new plants. Dividing lily bulbs is typically done in early spring or fall when the plants are dormant. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to divide and replant lily bulbs:

  1. Carefully dig up the lily plants, making sure to avoid damaging the bulb. Use a garden fork or shovel to loosen the soil around the bulbs.
  2. Shake off any excess soil from the bulbs and separate them into individual bulbs.
  3. Inspect each bulb and discard any damaged or diseased ones. Healthy bulbs should be firm and free from blemishes.
  4. If you notice multiple bulblets or scales attached to the main bulb, you can gently separate and replant them individually.
  5. Prepare the planting area by loosening the soil and incorporating organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure.
  6. Dig a hole deep enough to accommodate the bulb, ensuring that the tip of the bulb is facing upwards. The general rule of thumb is to plant the bulbs at a depth three times their height.
  7. Place the bulb in the hole and backfill with soil, gently tamping it down to remove any air pockets.
  8. Water the newly planted bulbs thoroughly and continue to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.
RELATED  How To Plant Milkweed Pods [ Full Guide ]

Overwintering Lily Bulbs In Cold Climates

If you live in a region with cold winters, it’s important to take proper precautions to protect your lily bulbs from freezing. Lilies are generally hardy, but extreme cold temperatures can cause the bulbs to rot or fail to emerge in the spring. Here are some tips for overwintering lily bulbs in cold climates:

  1. In late fall, after the first frost has killed off the foliage, carefully dig up the lily bulbs.
  2. Shake off any excess soil from the bulbs and gently remove any loose scales or debris.
  3. Place the bulbs in a storage container or paper bag filled with dry peat moss or vermiculite. This helps to maintain a cool and dry environment.
  4. Store the bulbs in a cool, dark location with a temperature between 40 to 50 degrees Fahrenheit (4 to 10 degrees Celsius). An unheated basement, garage, or cellar are suitable options.
  5. Check the bulbs periodically to ensure they remain firm and free from mold or rot. Discard any bulbs showing signs of damage or disease.
  6. In early spring, a few weeks before the last frost date, prepare the planting area by loosening the soil and incorporating organic matter.
  7. Plant the overwintered bulbs at the recommended depth and water thoroughly after planting.
  8. Mulch around the planted bulbs to help insulate the soil and protect the bulbs from temperature fluctuations.


Planting lily bulbs can be a rewarding experience, allowing you to enjoy the beauty of these stunning flowers in your garden. By following the steps outlined in this guide, you can ensure successful planting, control pests and diseases, prolong flowering, divide and replant bulbs, and effectively overwinter the bulbs in colder climates. With proper care and attention, your lilies will thrive and provide you with years of vibrant blooms.


What Is The Best Time To Plant Lily Bulbs?

The best time to plant lily bulbs is in the fall, preferably before the first frost. This will give the bulbs enough time to establish their root system before the winter sets in.

How Deep Should I Plant My Lily Bulbs?

Lily bulbs should be planted at a depth of 6-8 inches. If you are planting in a container, make sure there is enough depth for the bulbs to grow.

What Type Of Soil Is Best For Planting Lily Bulbs?

Lily bulbs prefer well-draining, loamy soil with a pH level between 6.0-7.0. It is important to avoid heavy clay soils as lilies do not do well in waterlogged conditions.

How Much Sun Do Lily Bulbs Need?

Lilies prefer full sun to partial shade. They need at least 6-8 hours of sunlight per day, but they can tolerate some shade in the afternoon, especially in hot climates.

How Often Should I Water My Lily Bulbs?

Lily bulbs should be kept consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Water deeply once a week, and more frequently during periods of hot weather. Mulching the soil can help retain moisture and keep the roots cool.