Instructions for Planting Lily Bulbs


Lilies are a diverse group of plants. There are varieties that bloom in early summer and those that add late summer color to the garden. They all produce large flowers on long stems, but some lilies have bell-shaped flowers while others are shaped like a trumpet. Lilies come in a large range of colors and patterns, with lily varieties available for nearly any climate zone. Lilies grow from underground bulb structures, which are simple enough to plant that even new gardeners can successfully add lilies to the garden.

Step 1

Prepare a garden bed in a full-sun area that is well drained. Lay a 2 inch layer of compost over the bed and till it in to a 6-to-8 inch depth to aid drainage in the area and to add nutrients.

Step 2

Plant each bulb 4 inches deep with the pointed end of the bulb facing upward. Space bulbs 8 inches apart in clusters of three to five bulbs, and space each cluster 3 feet from the next cluster of bulbs.

Step 3

Water the lily bed just enough to moisten it after planting. Water lily throughout the year when the soil begins to dry but avoid getting the soil soggy, as this causes the bulbs to rot.

Step 4

Lay a 4-to-6 inch layer of mulch over the bed before the ground freezes. This retains moisture and prevents winter damage to the bulbs. Remove the mulch in spring once frost danger is past.

Step 5

Fertilize the new bulbs with 5-10-10 analysis fertilizer or a lily fertilizer in spring when new growth appears. Follow the fertilizer label for exact application amounts and methods, as these may differ between brands.

Tips and Warnings

  • Lilies must have six to eight hours of sun, otherwise they will decline and die within a few years.

Things You'll Need

  • Lily bulbs
  • Compost
  • Tiller
  • Mulch
  • Fertilizer


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Selecting Lilies for Your Garden
Keywords: lily planting instructions, growing lily bulbs, summer flower bulbs

About this Author

Jenny Harrington has been a freelance writer since 2006. Her published articles have appeared in various print and online publications, including the "Dollar Stretcher." Previously, she owned her own business, selling handmade items online, wholesale and at crafts fairs. Harrington's specialties include small business information, crafting, decorating and gardening.