How To Plant Lilly Of Valley [ Full Guide ]

Lily of the valley, known by its scientific name Convallaria majalis, is a delicate and fragrant perennial plant that is often sought after for its charming appearance and sweet scent. Growing lily of the valley can be a rewarding experience for both novice and experienced gardeners. This article provides a comprehensive guide on how to successfully plant and care for lily of the valley, including choosing the right location, preparing the soil, selecting the right varieties, and more.

Quick Answer: How To Plant Lily Of The Valley

Planting lily of the valley requires attention to detail and a careful approach to ensure that the delicate plants establish themselves and thrive in their environment. Here is a quick step-by-step guide to planting lily of the valley:

  1. Choose a suitable location: Select a shaded or partially shaded area with well-draining soil.
  2. Prepare the soil: Ensure the soil is rich in organic matter and has a slightly acidic pH.
  3. Select the varieties: Choose from the different varieties available, considering features such as flower color and size.
  4. Plant the rhizomes: Plant the rhizomes at the appropriate depth and spacing.
  5. Water and mulch: Water the plants thoroughly after planting and apply a layer of mulch to conserve moisture.
  6. Provide care: Monitor the plants for pests and diseases, and provide regular care and maintenance to promote healthy growth.

Following these steps will help to create a suitable environment for lily of the valley to thrive and produce its dainty blooms.

Choosing The Right Location

Lily of the valley thrives in cool, shaded or partially shaded areas, making it an excellent choice for woodland gardens, underplanting trees, or in shady borders. When selecting a location for planting lily of the valley, consider the following factors:

Light Requirements

Lily of the valley performs best in locations with dappled sunlight or partial shade. Direct exposure to intense sunlight can scorch the delicate foliage and decrease the plant’s overall vigor. In regions with hot climates, it is particularly important to provide adequate shade to prevent the plants from wilting or becoming stressed.

Soil Drainage

The soil should be well-draining to prevent waterlogging, as lily of the valley is susceptible to root rot in excessively moist conditions. While lily of the valley appreciates moisture, it also requires adequate aeration for healthy root growth. Amending heavy clay soils with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, can improve drainage and create a more favorable environment for the plants.

Soil Ph

Lily of the valley thrives in slightly acidic to neutral soil conditions, with a pH range between 6.0 and 7.0 being ideal. Conduct a soil test to determine the pH of the planting area, and if necessary, adjust the pH by incorporating amendments such as sulfur to lower the pH or lime to raise it.

Climate Considerations

Consider the local climate when choosing a planting location. In regions with mild summers, lily of the valley can tolerate more sunlight, while in hotter climates, it thrives in cooler, shaded areas. Additionally, ensure the selected location provides protection from strong winds, which can damage the delicate stems and flowers.

Preparing The Soil

Preparing the soil is a crucial step in ensuring the success of lily of the valley. Follow these guidelines to create an optimal planting environment:

Soil Enrichment

Before planting, enrich the soil with organic matter to improve its structure and fertility. Incorporate well-rotted compost, leaf mold, or aged manure into the soil to increase its organic content and provide essential nutrients for the plants. This also helps to enhance soil moisture retention and contributes to overall soil health.

Soil Texture

Incorporate organic matter into the soil to improve its texture and drainage. Loosening compacted soil and breaking up clumps help create a favorable growing medium for the rhizomatous roots of lily of the valley. Work the organic amendments into the soil to a depth of at least 8-10 inches to ensure thorough mixing and distribution.

Soil Ph Adjustment

If the soil pH is outside the ideal range for lily of the valley, make the necessary adjustments to bring it within the optimal parameters. Follow soil test recommendations for adding amendments to raise or lower the pH, ensuring that the soil conditions are conducive to healthy plant growth.

Removal Of Debris

Clear the planting area of any debris, such as rocks, sticks, and weeds, to provide a clean and unobstructed space for the rhizomes to establish themselves. This also helps prevent competition for resources and minimizes the risk of pest and disease harborage.

Selecting Lily Of The Valley Varieties

Lily of the valley is available in several different varieties, each with its own unique characteristics in terms of flower color, size, and growth habits. When selecting lily of the valley varieties for planting, consider the following factors:

Flower Color

Lily of the valley typically produces small, bell-shaped flowers that are predominantly white. However, there are varieties that exhibit subtle variations in flower color, with some displaying hints of pink or cream. Choose varieties based on your aesthetic preferences and the overall design of your garden, considering how the colors will complement other plants and elements within the landscape.

Flower Size

While the flowers of lily of the valley are generally petite, there can be subtle differences in flower size among different varieties. Some varieties may produce slightly larger or more robust flowers, adding visual interest and diversity to the overall display. Consider the scale of the plants in relation to the surrounding landscape and select varieties that contribute to a harmonious and balanced composition.

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Growth Habit

Certain varieties of lily of the valley may exhibit distinct growth habits, such as spreading more vigorously or producing denser foliage. Consider the growth habits of different varieties and how they align with the intended use of the plants within the garden. For example, more compact varieties may be suited for edging or containers, while spreading varieties can be employed as ground covers or underplantings for larger trees or shrubs.

Planting lily of the valley involves careful consideration of the planting location, soil preparation, and selection of suitable varieties. By providing the right growing conditions and selecting appropriate planting sites, gardeners can ensure the success of these charming and fragrant perennials. Paying attention to the specific requirements of lily of the valley, such as shade, well-draining soil, and slightly acidic pH, is essential for promoting healthy growth and abundant flowering. With proper care and maintenance, lily of the valley can thrive in various garden settings, adding beauty and fragrance to the landscape.

Obtaining Lily Of The Valley Plants

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) is a charming perennial plant that is native to the cool, temperate regions of the Northern Hemisphere. Known for its delicate white bell-shaped flowers and sweet fragrance, this plant is a popular choice for shady areas in gardens. Planting Lily of the Valley requires some careful preparation and attention to detail, but with the right techniques, you can enjoy its beauty in your own garden.

There are several ways to obtain Lily of the Valley plants. One option is to purchase potted plants from a local nursery or garden center. This is a convenient and reliable method, as the plants are already established and ready to be planted in your garden. Look for healthy plants with lush green foliage and no signs of diseases or pests.

Another option is to propagate Lily of the Valley from existing plants. This can be done through division or by harvesting and planting the plant’s rhizomes. Division is usually done in early spring or fall when the plant is dormant. Carefully dig up the clump of Lily of the Valley and gently separate the rhizomes, making sure that each division has sufficient roots and foliage. Replant the divisions immediately at the same depth as they were before.

If you plan to grow Lily of the Valley from rhizomes, select healthy plants and gently dig around the base to unearth the rhizomes. Carefully remove any excess soil and trim away any damaged or rotting sections. Look for rhizomes that are firm and plump. Rhizomes that are soft or shriveled are unlikely to produce healthy plants. Once you have selected healthy rhizomes, plant them immediately to ensure their successful growth.

Planting Lily Of The Valley

Lily of the Valley prefers to grow in partial to full shade, making it ideal for woodland gardens or shaded areas in your yard. Before planting, it is important to prepare the soil to provide the optimum growing conditions for the plant. Lily of the Valley thrives in moist, well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter.

Begin by clearing away any existing vegetation from the planting area. Remove any weeds, grass, or debris that could hinder the growth of the Lily of the Valley. This will also help prevent competition for nutrients and water.

To improve the soil’s fertility, enrich it with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. Spread a layer of organic matter over the planting area and use a garden fork or tiller to work it into the soil to a depth of about 6-8 inches. This will help improve the soil’s structure and provide essential nutrients for the plants.

Once the soil has been prepared, it’s time to plant the Lily of the Valley. Dig a hole that is approximately twice as wide and deep as the root ball or rhizome. Place the plant into the hole, ensuring that the crown (where the roots meet the foliage) is level with the soil surface. If you are planting multiple Lily of the Valley plants, space them about 6-8 inches apart to allow for proper air circulation and growth.

Backfill the hole with soil, gently firming it around the roots or rhizomes. Ensure that the plant is firmly in place, but avoid compacting the soil too much, as this can hinder drainage. Water the newly planted Lily of the Valley thoroughly to settle the soil and remove any air pockets.

Watering And Fertilizing

Proper watering is crucial for the healthy growth of Lily of the Valley. While the plant prefers moist soil, it is also important to avoid overwatering, as excessive moisture can lead to root rot or other diseases. The best approach is to keep the soil consistently moist but not waterlogged.

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During dry periods, water the plants deeply and thoroughly to ensure that the water reaches the root zone. Avoid watering the foliage, as this can promote the development of fungal diseases. Instead, direct the water to the soil around the plants.

Mulching the soil around Lily of the Valley plants can help retain moisture and suppress weed growth. Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded bark, around the plants, taking care not to cover the crown of the plant. This will help conserve moisture, regulate soil temperature, and improve the overall health of the plant.

Mulching Techniques

Mulching is an important practice for Lily of the Valley plants, as it provides several benefits. It helps to retain moisture in the soil, regulate soil temperature, suppress weed growth, and improve the overall health of the plant.

Start by applying a layer of organic mulch around the Lily of the Valley plants. Wood chips, shredded bark, or compost are all suitable options for mulching. Spread the mulch in a layer about 2-3 inches thick, taking care not to cover the crown of the plant. This will help retain soil moisture and reduce the need for frequent watering.

Regularly check the mulch layer and replenish it as needed. Over time, the mulch may decompose and break down, so it is important to add a fresh layer every year or two to maintain its effectiveness. Mulch should be applied in early spring or fall, when the soil is moist and the plants are less likely to be disturbed.

Planting Lily of the Valley can add a touch of beauty and fragrance to your garden, and with proper care, this perennial plant can thrive for many years. Remember to obtain healthy plants or rhizomes from a reputable source, prepare the soil before planting, and provide regular watering and mulching to create the ideal growing conditions. By following the tips and techniques outlined in this guide, you can successfully plant Lily of the Valley and enjoy its delicate blooms and enchanting scent in your own outdoor space.

Pruning And Maintenance

Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) is a delicate and fragrant perennial flower that is native to Europe and parts of Asia. This plant is known for its charming white bell-shaped flowers and sweet scent. It is a popular choice for gardens because of its low maintenance requirements and its ability to spread and form a lush ground cover.

Lily of the Valley is a relatively low-maintenance plant, but it still requires some attention to ensure healthy growth and abundant blooms.

  1. Choosing the right location: Select a location that receives partial to full shade. Lily of the Valley prefers moist, well-drained soil, so ensure the site has good drainage. Avoid planting this flower in direct sunlight, as it can scorch the delicate foliage.

  2. Preparing the soil: Before planting Lily of the Valley, it is important to prepare the soil properly. The soil should be well-draining and rich in organic matter. This can be achieved by adding compost or well-rotted manure to the soil. Turn the soil to a depth of about 6 inches and remove any weeds or debris.

  3. Planting depth and spacing: Lily of the Valley should be planted at a depth of around 1 to 2 inches. It is best to plant them in clusters or groups, as they tend to spread and colonize an area. Leave about 6 to 8 inches of space between each plant to allow for proper growth and airflow.

  4. Watering: Keep the soil consistently moist, but not waterlogged. Water the plants thoroughly after planting and continue to water regularly, especially during dry spells. Avoid overhead watering, as wet foliage can lead to fungal diseases.

  5. Mulching: Apply a layer of organic mulch, such as wood chips or shredded bark, around the base of the plants. This will help to retain moisture, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Be careful not to mulch too close to the stems, as this can encourage rot.

  6. Fertilizing: Lily of the Valley is not a heavy feeder, but a light application of balanced fertilizer in early spring can promote healthy growth and flowering. Use a slow-release granular fertilizer or a liquid fertilizer diluted according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

  7. Pruning: Lily of the Valley does not require much pruning. However, if the plants become overcrowded or start to invade other areas, you can thin them out by carefully digging up and transplanting the excess plants. This is best done after the plants have finished flowering in late spring or early summer.

Dealing With Pests And Diseases

While Lily of the Valley is relatively resistant to pests and diseases, there are a few issues that you should watch out for and address promptly to ensure the health of your plants.

  1. Aphids: Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that can infest Lily of the Valley and cause damage by sucking sap from the leaves. A strong blast of water or spraying with insecticidal soap can help control the aphids. Encouraging natural predators like ladybugs can also help keep their populations in check.

  2. Slugs and Snails: These common garden pests can cause significant damage to Lily of the Valley by chewing through the leaves and flowers. To keep slugs and snails at bay, remove any hiding places such as debris or weeds. You can also use organic slug baits or create physical barriers, such as copper tape, around the plants.

  3. Leaf Spot: Leaf spot is a fungal disease that causes dark spots or lesions on the foliage of Lily of the Valley. To prevent leaf spot, avoid overhead watering and improve air circulation around the plants by thinning them out if they become overcrowded. In severe cases, fungicides labeled for leaf spot control can be used according to the instructions.

  4. Rust: Rust is another fungal disease that affects Lily of the Valley. It causes orange or brownish spots on the leaves and can lead to defoliation if left untreated. Remove and destroy any infected leaves and improve air circulation. Fungicides labeled for rust control can be used if necessary.

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Propagation Methods

Lily of the Valley can be propagated through various methods, including division, rhizome cuttings, or seed sowing.

  1. Division: Division is the most common and easiest method of propagating Lily of the Valley. This should be done in early spring or after the plants have finished flowering. Carefully dig up the clumps and use a sharp knife or shovel to divide the rhizomes into smaller sections, ensuring each section has at least one healthy bud. Replant the divisions at the desired location and water thoroughly.

  2. Rhizome cuttings: Another way to propagate Lily of the Valley is by taking rhizome cuttings. Select a healthy rhizome and cut it into small sections, each with a bud. Plant these sections horizontally at a depth of about 1 inch and water well. Keep the soil consistently moist until new shoots emerge.

  3. Seed sowing: While seed propagation is less common, it is still possible to grow Lily of the Valley from seeds. Collect fresh seeds from mature berries and sow them in a well-draining potting mix. Lightly cover the seeds with a thin layer of soil and keep them moist. Place the pot in a cool location and expect germination to occur within a few weeks. Once the seedlings are large enough to handle, they can be transplanted into the garden.

Harvesting Lily Of The Valley

Lily of the Valley is primarily grown for its ornamental value, but it can also be harvested for its fragrant flowers.

  1. Harvesting flowers: When the Lily of the Valley plants are in full bloom, you can harvest the flowers to enjoy indoors or use them in floral arrangements. Cut the stems near the base, taking care not to damage the surrounding foliage. Place the cut flowers in water immediately to prolong their freshness.

  2. Drying flowers: If you wish to dry the Lily of the Valley flowers for use in potpourri or crafts, it is best to hang them upside down in a cool, dry location. Ensure that the flowers are fully dry before storing them in an airtight container.


Planting Lily of the Valley can bring charm and fragrance to your garden. With the right location, soil preparation, and maintenance techniques, you can cultivate healthy and beautiful plants. Remember to prune, deal with pests and diseases promptly, and explore different propagation methods to expand your Lily of the Valley collection. Enjoy the beauty and fragrance of this delightful flower throughout the growing season.


What Is The Best Time Of Year To Plant Lily Of The Valley?

The best time to plant lily of the valley is in the early spring, once the ground has thawed and is workable. This will give the plant enough time to establish its root system before the heat of summer arrives.

What Type Of Soil Is Best For Lily Of The Valley?

Lily of the valley prefers well-drained, rich and slightly acidic soil. It is important to avoid areas with heavy clay or sandy soils, as they do not provide the proper drainage and nutrients that the plant needs to thrive.

How Much Sun Does Lily Of The Valley Need?

Lily of the valley prefers partial shade to full shade. It can tolerate some morning sun, but it is best to avoid planting it in direct sunlight as the leaves may scorch.

How Far Apart Should Lily Of The Valley Plants Be Planted?

Lily of the valley should be planted 6-8 inches apart from each other, with the crowns placed just below the soil surface. This will allow enough space for the plants to spread and fill in the area, creating a beautiful ground cover.

How Often Should Lily Of The Valley Be Watered?

Lily of the valley should be watered regularly, especially during the first year of growth when the root system is establishing itself. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged. Once fully established, the plant can tolerate short periods of drought.