When to plant lily bulbs

Lily bulbs should be planted in early spring or in the fall. Lily bulbs can be planted in the garden in early spring as soon as the soil has thawed and can be worked. Lily bulbs sold in the fall are generally shipped by bulb companies at the correct time for planting in the local area. Fall-planted lily bulbs are planted in October or November in most climates.

Lily bulbs in sold in bulk bags in spring

Best time for planting lilies

The best time for planting lilies is in the early fall. This allows the plants to miss the hottest days of summer yet still set down some roots before the ground freezes for winter. Lilies can also be planted in early spring and are often available at the nursery as potted plants only in springtime.

Plant lily bulbs as soon as you receive them. If you can’t plant them right away, place them in a cool dry spot with good air circulation. Most true lily plants can handle a light late spring frost outdoors with minimal damage.

Choosing lily plants for your garden

There is a stunning number of different lilies to choose from. More common varieties are easy to find in the spring in garden centers, while specialty types are generally ordered online (and may only ship in the fall). There are all sorts of different colors, sizes, heights, and even some with stripes and freckles.

Here are some lovely types of lilies to consider planting:

  • Stargazer Lily
  • Casablanca Lily
  • Night Rider Lily
  • Tiny Poems Carpet Border Lily™
  • Forever Susan Asiatic Lily
  • Zeba Lily
  • Regent’s Park Asiatic Lily
  • Levi Lily
  • Starlight Magic Oriental Carpet Border Lily™
  • Dizzy Lily
  • Lily Looks – Tiny Crystal White Lily
  • Sorbonne Lily
  • Gold Band Lily
  • Montego Bay Lily
  • Tabledance Lily
  • Saltarello Lily
When to plant lily bulbs

Where to plant lilies

Choose a full-sun planting location with well-drained soil. Lilies flower best in full sun, where their leaves can soak up maximum rays to help the plant thrive. That said, the roots do like to be cool if possible, so planting lilies close together or between other perennials can shade the roots of the plant while the leaves are still in daylight.

Lily plants do not grow well in waterlogged soil. Avoid planting lilies in an area where water tends to pool after rain. Look instead for well-drained sandy loam soil. You can also build a raised-up flower bed with well-draining soil to encourage drainage away from the roots of the plant.

How to plant lilies

Here are the basic steps for planting lilies:

  1. Check that the soil inside the plant pot is moist. If it’s dry, water the lily plant now.
  2. Dig a hole twice as wide as the plant pot, but no deeper than the soil in the planter pot. The goal is to dig a wide, shallow hole. You can mix a bulb fertilizer into the planting soil if you like.
  3. Gently slide the lily’s soil/root mass out of the plant pot. I like to loosen up any large roots that look “trapped” by the plant pot so they know it’s time to look for new soil.
  4. Place the plant in the center of the planting hole.
  5. Check that the level of the soil right around the stem of the plant is at the same elevation as the ground level around the hole.
  6. Gently backfill the planting hole with the soil that came out of it when the hole was dug.
  7. Water the area thoroughly after planting for soil moisture and settlement.

Here is a detailed article all about how to plant lily bulbs.

Caring for lilies after planting

After planting, apply a thin layer of organic mulch over the soil surface around the plant. I like to use homemade compost, as it has a lovely dark color and a uniform appearance. The green foliage of the lily plants really “pops” in the landscape with the contrasting mulch shade.

The mulch will help keep weeds down around the lily plant, but you’ll likely still have to hand-pull out some weeds to keep the area free of competition for the new baby plant. In addition to weeding, water the plant regularly for the first year or two to help the root system become well-established in the soil.

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 *