How to Care for Lily Flowers


Lilies are tuber flowers. Unlike bulbs, tubers do not have a protective covering. For that reason, they should be planted as soon as possible because they will lose moisture if stored for too long, according to information published by the University of Minnesota. Once planted, the care of lilies is very simple and highly rewarding. These showy, sometimes fragrant, durable flowers will bloom all summer long, year after year, with only basic culture.

Step 1

Choose the right location for your lily. Lilies grow best in full sun, although some varieties, such as the Martagon hybrids, will also thrive in partial shade.

Step 2

Plant your lilies in soil that is well-draining. Because the tubers are so fragile, overly wet soil will cause them to quickly rot away. Make sure no flooding or standing water occurs near or at the planting site.

Step 3

Amend the soil to a depth of 6 inches with organic mulch to improve nutrient content. You can also use the addition of organic mulch to create a raised bed for planting, which will improve drainage.

Step 4

Plant lilies in groups of 3 or 5 bulbs for the best visual impact. Each bulb should be about 8 inches from the others in the group, and each group should be 3 to 5 feet from the next. Plant small bulbs around 3 inches below the surface and large bulbs about 5 inches deep.

Step 5

Add a 4-inch layer of mulch over the bulbs for winter protection. The mulch should be sterile (weed-free) and can be wood, leaves or straw. Gradually remove the mulch in the spring when any danger of frost is past.

Step 6

Fertilize the area around the new, emerging shoots in early spring with a slow-release, water soluble, phosphorus-rich fertilizer (usually marked as 5-10-10). Follow the instructions on the label for application.

Step 7

Monitor the flowers and leaves for insect pests such as aphids. Spray them off with your garden hose. Carefully break off flowers when they have wilted, and wait until the foliage dies down and turns yellow before cleaning it up.

Tips and Warnings

  • Water early in the day so that the sun will quickly dry the plants, and avoid getting water on the leaves or blooms, as this can lead to the development of Botrytis blight, a fungal disease.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic mulch
  • Gardening tools
  • Sterile mulch
  • Garden hose
  • Slow-release, water-soluble fertilizer (5-10-10)


  • University of Minnesota: Selecting Lilies for Your Garden
Keywords: growing lilies, lily flower care, caring for lilies

About this Author

April Sanders has been a professional writer since 1998. Previously, she worked as an educator and currently writes academic research content for EBSCO publishing and elementary reading curriculum for Compass Publishing. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in social psychology from the University of Washington and a master's degree in information sciences and technology in education from Mansfield University.