How to plant lily bulbs

Lilies are among the most dramatically beautiful perennial flowers in the garden. Fortunately for us beginner gardeners, they’re also very easy to plant and care for! Here are all the details about planting lily bulbs in your flower garden.

1. Choose your lily bulbs

Lily bulbs, or “corms,” come in many different varieties. The plants come in different heights, with different types of foliage and different colors of flowers. They come in soft pink, white, bright yellow, orange, red, and even hot pink. There’s a world of lilies to choose from!

Lily bulbs at the plant nursery

Some of the most common lilies are the hybrid garden lilies, including the ever-popular Asiatic Lilies. These low-maintenance, disease-resistant flowers come back every year. Here are some popular hybrid lilies to grow in your garden:

  • Stargazer
  • Elodie
  • Josephine
  • Levi
  • Casa Blanca
  • Tabledance
  • Sorbonne
  • Mona Lisa
  • Forever Susan
Lily bulbs in sold in bulk bags in spring

2. Prepare the bulbs for planting

Lily bulbs are generally planted in either early spring or mid-late fall. They can be planted whenever the soil is not frozen, but be sure to water them thoroughly after planting, as the roots take 4-6 weeks to start to establish themselves in the surrounding soil.

Soak the bulbs for an hour or two before planting if they are at all dry or soft. While this step is optional, it can help your lily bulbs root into the ground. Lily bulbs are corms and don’t have a true bulb protective coating. This allows them to dry out more easily than other bulbs like tulips and daffodils.

Lily bulb held in hand

3. Choose a planting location for the lilies

Most types of lilies flower best when grown in full sun, but they’re also tolerant of partial sun/partial shade (particularly in hot climates). They like well-drained loamy-sand soil that drains well. Avoid planting them in heavy clay where water pools easily. Planting lilies among other perennials lets the roots and bulb stay cool while the leaves can bask in the energizing sunshine. Lilies and other tall perennial flowers also grow best in an area sheltered from high winds.

How to plant lily bulbs

4. Planting lily bulbs in the garden

Here are the basic steps for planting lily bulbs:

  • Dig a hole that is three times as deep as the lily bulb is tall.
  • Place the lily bulb in the hole with the pointy side up. The top should be about 4″-5″ below the surface of the soil around the hole.
  • Gently backfill with the soil that came out of the hole. Avoid leaving too many air pockets (but be gentle!).
  • Water the planted lily bulb.
  • Other lily bulbs can be planted in the area, as close as 8″-12″ apart or as far apart as required to fill the space. Lilies do grow quite quickly and may eventually bump into one another when planted closely.
  • Apply mulch around the plant to keep the roots cool and moist.

Here is a video showing these steps for how to plant lily bulbs in the garden:

5. Care after planting

Once the area has been watered and mulched with quality organic mulch, the lilies are pretty much set to grow! Keep them well-watered for the first year or two to help them get established. Watering can be decreased dramatically once the roots of the plants have grown deep. Lilies can be fed with organic flower food or bulb fertilizer as they sprout from the ground.

Lily bulb held beside sprouted lily in the garden
Pink stargazer lilies
Pink lily flowers in bloom in garden
Mary Jane Duford
Mary Jane Duford

Mary Jane Duford is a quintessential Canadian gardener. An engineer by trade, she tends to an ever-expanding collection of plants. In her world, laughter blooms as freely as her flowers, and every plant is raised with a dash of Canadian grit.

Mary Jane is a certified Master Gardener and also holds a Permaculture Design Certificate. She's also a proud mom of three, teaching her little sprouts the crucial difference between a garden friend and foe.

When she's not playing in the dirt, Mary Jane revels in her love for Taylor Swift, Gilmore Girls, ice hockey, and the surprisingly soothing sounds of bluegrass covers of classic hip-hop songs. She invites you to join her garden party, a place where you can share in the joy of growing and where every day is a new opportunity to find the perfect spot for yet another plant.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *