- Exposure: Full sun
- USDA Hardiness Zones: 3 to 8
- When to plant: Fall before the ground freezes
- Recommended varieties: Asiatic (first to bloom, little fragrance), Matrix, Perfect Joy, Sparkling Joy Oriental (very strong fragrance), Starlight Express, Black Beauty Roselily (double flowers, lightly scented), Natalia, Samantha LA hybrid (large flowers, very tall), Royal Sunset
- Pests and diseases to watch out for: Lily leaf beetle, botrytis
How to Plant Lily Flowers
Dig a hole and loosen the soil to a depth of about 12 inches, then set the bulb in at about 3 to 6 inches deep. Place 3 to 5 bulbs per 6-inch diameter hole (lilies planted in groups look more striking than a single bulb planted here and there in the garden bed). Place the pointy end of the bulbs facing up. Make sure to plant in an area that drains well with no standing water after a rain shower. Lilies don't like to stay soggy. Add granular slow-release fertilizer, and water. Cover with mulch, and wait for spring!
How to Care for Lilies
Lilies don't need a lot of care, but if it's really dry when they start sending up shoots in the spring and early summer, water regularly. Water during the day, not in the evenings when the foliage will stay wet overnight, which sets up the perfect environment for fungal diseases to take hold. You also may want to feed your lilies with a balanced liquid fertilizer once you start seeing the blooms begin. You can remove faded flowers, but keep the leaves in place until they die back on their own. The plant needs foliage to make food for next year's blooms. Cut down dead stalks in late fall or early spring.
Are lilies difficult to grow?
No, and because they are bulbs, they will return to bloom year after year. Just be sure to keep the foliage in place until it drops on its own so the plant stores enough energy to put on a show again next season.
How do I keep critters from digging up my lily bulbs?
Good luck with that! Unfortunately, lilies are delectable treats to many rodents including squirrels and chipmunks. They may dig them up right after planting in the fall or in the spring before your lilies ever have a chance to bloom. You can try enclosing bulbs in a cage formed from chicken wire when planting. But skip the expensive store-bought repellants and homegrown remedies, which do little to keep determined rodents from dining on your bulbs. Better idea: Try planting in containers and pots, layering various types of bulbs at different levels. Plant lilies underneath less tasty bulbs such as daffodils and hyacinths.
GROWER TIP: "Choose bulbs that are large, firm, and free from mold," says horticulturalist Kathy McKay, who works with the bulb breeder, . "Plant them as soon as possible to prevent them from drying out."