How to Care for Oriental Lilies


Lilies (Lilium spp.) is an easy-growing perennial flower that is cold hardy to USDA growing zone 3. The oriental lily is a popular choice for the garden, with large exotic-looking blooms that have frilly petals and come in white, pink, red or rose colors. These lilies can grow from 2 to 8 feet tall and entice the senses with their sweet fragrance. Oriental lilies make a good choice for all gardeners, especially novices who want a plant that is easy to care for and produces amazing results.

Step 1

Grow oriental lilies in an area that receives full sun all day. Lilies thrive in lots of sun, and too much shade can cause weak stems that fall over. The area should also have good draining soil that is slightly acidic. Amend heavy soils as necessary with compost before planting.

Step 2

Water lilies early in the morning using a drip irrigation system or a garden hose with the water trickling out slowly to water the roots deeply. Allow the top 2 inches of soil to dry out before watering, and don't overwater.

Step 3

Fertilize your oriental lily in the early spring after the last frost. Use a phosphorus-rich fertilizer such as 5-10-10. A slow-release food works best, and be sure to water well after applying.

Step 4

Put a 6-inch layer of mulch--shredded bark, pine needles or chopped leaves--around your lilies each fall before the first frost. This protects the roots from cold winter temperatures. In the spring, remove most of the mulch, leaving about a 1-inch layer.

Step 5

Remove flowers as soon as they die, cutting off right underneath the flower head and not removing too much of the stem. The stems need to be kept on the plant until they die back so they can pull in nutrients for next season's growth. In the late fall or early spring before the last frost, cut the dead stems down to the ground.

Tips and Warnings

  • Avoid heavy clay soils that do not drain well or your plants will develop root rot. Do not water overhead, which can cause mold on the foliage.

Things You'll Need

  • Compost
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Selecting Lilies for Your Garden
  • Gardening Tips: Caring for Oriental Lilies
  • Flower Garden Bulbs: Oriental Lilies

Who Can Help

  • USDA Hardiness Zone Finder
Keywords: care of lilies, oriental lilies, caring oriental lilies

About this Author

Residing in Southern Oregon, Amy Madtson has been writing for Demand Studios since 2008 with a focus on health, pregnancy, crafts and gardening. Her work has been published on websites such as eHow and Garden Guides, among others. Madtson has been a childbirth educator and doula since 1993.