Lily Plant Information


Lilies (L. candidum) come in a variety of sizes, shapes and colors. Some lily cultivars are extremely fragrant. Many plants have the word "lily" as part of their name like---daylily or peace lily---when, in fact, they are not true lilies. To be a true lily, plants must be grown from a bulb, which is fleshy and void of any protective covering.

Plant Characteristics

Lily bulbs are fleshy and have overlapping scales. Plants have tall, stiff stems with narrow leaves that go from the bottom to the top of the stem. Blossoms are at the tip of the plant stem, and colors vary according to the cultivar. Flowers come in various shapes, such as trumpet, bell and bowl. Lilies have six petals and six anthers, according to the North American Lily Society. The positioning of the flowers also varies: They can point downward, upward or outward.


Lilies require well-drained, slightly acidic soil and full sun to partial shade. Bulbs need to be planted, roots down, at the proper depth. There must be no more than 1 inch of settled soil over the tops of the bulbs, 3 to 4 inches of soil for small bulbs and 4 to 6 inches for larger ones, says the North American Lily Society. Bulbs should be planted 12 to 18 inches apart, depending upon the size of the bulb. They should be watered after planting. The ideal planting time is fall.

Watering, Mulching and Fertilization

Lilies require a deep watering or soaking. The ground should be moist to a depth of approximately 6 inches. To accomplish this, place the hose near the lily clump and give it a good soaking. (It is best not to sprinkle the tops of the plants, as this encourages disease.) Add 2 to 4 inches of mulch to the garden bed where the lilies are planted. Mulch helps retain moisture (lilies like moisture), and it also helps to control weeds. Fertilize lilies in early spring with a 10-10-10 fertilizer after shoots have appeared. (Be sure to water them after fertilizing.) They can be fertilized throughout the growing season, following the manufacturer's directions.


If some of your lilies are exhibiting spindly, short stems (a sign of overcrowding), divide and transplant them. Bulbs can be divided and transplanted late in the fall season, after the plants have died back. Lift clumps out of the soil with a garden fork, and then pull apart and replant the bulbs.

Fall Cleanup

Remove or cut back old lily stems in the fall. This can be done once the stems have turned yellow. Do not put the dead plant material in your compost bin; it should be disposed of, in case of disease.

Keywords: lily plant information, planting watering fertilizing, soil mulch transplanting

About this Author

Paula M. Ezop’s inspirational column "Following the Spiritual Soul" appeared in "Oconee Today," a Scripps Howard publication. She has published her first book, "SPIRITUALITY for Mommies," and her children's chapter book, "The Adventures of Penelope Star," will be published by Wiggles Press. Ezop has a Bachelor of Arts degree from Northeastern Illinois University and has been writing for 10 years.