How to Grow Lilium Plants

Gardener's HQ Guide to Growing Lily

The Lilium genus are grown as half hardy or hardy bulbs in the garden.

Due to the large size of the genus, there is a large range in height (from 30 to 1.8 m; 1 to 6 feet) in the lily (Liliaceae) family.

Lilies usually have lance shaped leaves, long upright stems, and beautiful trumpet shaped fragrant flowers.

Depending on the species, Lily bloom from the end of spring through to the end of summer.

Lily Photographs under CC licence are of the following: Lilium longiflorum, Lilium candidum, and Lilium martagon.

Lilium longiflorum

Lilium Candidum

Lilium martagon

Some of the common names for lily varieties include Lily, Lemon Lily, Annunciation Lily, Royal lily, Bamboo Lily, and Bulbil lily.

Lilium Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Lily: Bamboo; Tiger; Easter, Japanese; Lemon; Siberian; Leopard; Madonna; Martagon; Meadow; Royal; Turk’s Cap.
Life Cycle: Hardy bulb. Half hardy bulb.
Height: 12 to 60 inches (30 to 180 cm).
Native: Northern America. Europe. Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 4 to 9.

Flowers: Species dependent: Late spring and/or summer.
Flower Details: Many Colours. Trumpets. Upright. Large. Fragrant.
Foliage: Herbaceous. Lanceolate. Whorled.

Growing Lily Outside: Usually grown from Lilium bulbs as seed grown plants will not bear flowers for about three or four years. Spacing 8 to 24 inches (20 to 60 cm).
Bulbs: 3 to 9 inches depending upon species (8 to 23 cm); two to three times the size of the bulb. Start of spring or autumn.
Seeds: Surface 1/4 inch (6 mm). Start of spring - before the last frost, or in autumn.
Sow seeds Inside: Germination time: one to eight weeks. Temperature: 70°F (21°C). Seeds should be first soaked for one day. Mix seeds in a moist growing medium and place in a bag. Keep soil moist. After about a month check for the formation of bulblets. If this has occurred transfer the bag and refrigerate for three months. Following this period transplant into individual pots. Grow indoors for one year and then transplant deeply outdoors following the last frost.

Requirements and care: Species dependent: Full sunlight or light shade. Acidic soil. Moist, sometimes wet soil. Some species prefer a limy soil. Regular watering during periods of growth. Spring mulch. Provide a spring feed. Provide an additional feed following flowering. Deadhead. Provide support. Cut back the stems to the ground upon the first frost of winter. Replace short-lived lilies regularly. Propagate: from bulbils that grow from the stem towards the end of summer or autumn.

Miscellaneous: Lilium bulbs are edible, though largely bitter tasting, and are sold as a cooling health food in China. It is also often used in Japanese cuisine, notably in the savory egg custard dish known as Chawan-mushi. Some species such as Easter lily are very toxic to cats.

How to Grow Lily, Lilium

The lily can be grown from either seeds or lily bulbs. It is probably easiest to grow from bulbs. As the Lilium genus is large the variation in lily bulb size is large too. Smaller species should be burried about 6 cm deep, whereas larger ones needed to be planted ad deep as 30 cm (1 foot).

The best way to decide how deep to bury a lily bulb is to multiply the size of the bulb diameter by three, and bury it that deep. Bulbs can be planted out in either autumn or at the start of spring.

The bulbs of small lilies should be spaced about 25 cm (10 inches) apart, whilst bigger lily varieties should be spaced about 50 cm (20 inches) apart. If you prefer to grow lilies from seed, then they should be sown at about 6 mm deep before the last frost of spring, or in autumn.

It can take from two to four years before seed grown lilies will flower.

Lilies can be grown in both sunny and lightly shaded conditions, this depend on the species. As a generalization lilies like to grow in a slightly acidic moist soil.

Taking Care of Lilies

Lilies take a little caring for: they require regular watering to keep the soil moist during their most active growing periods. The lilies base should be mulched in the spring. Lilies require to be fertilized at the start of spring and when the flowering period has finished. dead flowers should be removed. Lily stems should be cut back to the ground level upon the first frost of the winter.

The Lilium plant will produce bulbils or bulb scales, so if you require more lilies in the garden then these can be used for propagation at the beginning of autumn.

I hope that you enjoyed this guide on how to grow Lilium plants. You may also enjoy the following Gardener's HQ growing guides: How to grow Nomocharis, Parsnips, and Calochortus plants.