Care of Lily Plants


Lily plants provide a colorful addition to the home landscape and require only basic maintenance to grow and thrive. Lilies produce abundant blossoms on the ends of their thick, narrow stems. Their fragrant, bell- or trumpet-shaped blooms appear in a variety of colors including white, yellow, orange, red, maroon and bi-colors. The hardiness of lily plants varies, though most types survive winter to USDA zone 3. For the best results, check the particular variety for hardiness. Regardless of the variety, all lilies share similar care requirements.

Step 1

Plant lilies during spring or fall in a location that receives full sunlight throughout the day and has well-drained soil. Apply a 2-inch layer of organic compost over the planting site and use a garden tiller to amend the soil, which increases drainage to necessary levels. Space lily plants 8 to 12 inches apart.

Step 2

Water lilies thoroughly once every seven days to prevent the soil from drying out completely. Ensure that no standing water remains after application, or the plant may rot. Applying about 2 inches of water per week is usually sufficient. Do not water lily plants during winter.

Step 3

Feed lily plants once per year during early spring, using a 5-10-10 NPK slow-release fertilizer to gradually release nutrients throughout the growing season. Follow the manufacturer's directions for the best results and water just after application to prevent root burn.

Step 4

Removed faded and dead lily flowers whenever possible to improve the plant's appearance and overall health, as the old blossoms will leech nutrients from the bulb to form seeds. Pinch off the flowers where the base meets the stem to minimize damage.

Step 5

Spread a 4- to 6-inch layer of mulch around fall-planted lilies just before the first frost of the season to help the bulbs survive their first winter. Remove the mulch the following spring when all danger of frost is over or when the plants begin to grow through the mulch.

Things You'll Need

  • Organic compost
  • Garden tiller
  • Fertilizer
  • Mulch


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Selecting Lilies for Your Garden
  • Lilies in the Valley: Planting and Care of Lilies
  • "Illinois Gardener's Guide;" James A. Fizzell; 2002

Who Can Help

  • United States National Arboretum: USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map
Keywords: lily plants, care for lilies, growing lily plants

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including