Oriental lilies, bulbous perennials valued for their large, fragrant and colorful blossoms, reach up to 6 feet high and produce whorled, deeply veined foliage. Flowers reach up to 6 inches in diameter and typically feature brown or pink speckled markings in their centers. Blooms begin to appear in midsummer in shades of yellow, white, pink and red, depending on the variety. Common in summer flower beds and borders, oriental lilies also make long-lasting cut flowers for use in bouquets and decorative arrangements. Hardy in USDA zones 5 through 11, oriental lilies thrive throughout most of the country with only basic care.
Select a planting site for oriental lilies that receives full morning sun and partial afternoon shade, and consists of well-drained, moist, fertile soil for optimal growth. Apply a 1-inch layer of organic compost over the entire planting area. Use a garden spade to work the compost into the soil to a depth of at least 4 inches.
Dig a hole in the soil about 4 inches deep and 4 inches wide. Insert the oriental lily bulb into the hole, pointed side up, and gently back-fill the hole with soil. Water lightly to firm the soil around the bulb and initiate new growth. Space oriental lilies 8 to 12 inches apart.
Spread a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch over the ground around your oriental lilies to improve the soil's moisture retention, prevent weed growth and provide insulation for the root system. Allow at least 3 inches between the plant and the mulch layer to avoid disease.
Water oriental lilies once a week during spring and summer, keeping the soil slightly moist at all times. Decrease the frequency of watering to once every 10 days during fall. Soak the soil surrounding the plant to a depth of about 4 inches at each application. Do not water during winter.
Feed the plants once a year during early summer, just before blooming begins, using a low-nitrogen bulb fertilizer. Read the manufacturer's directions for proper dosage and application. Moisten the soil lightly before feeding to avoid burning the plant's roots.
Cut oriental lilies back to half their height after blooming ends in late summer to help conserve nutrients for the following year. Cut the plants back again to ground level after the first hard frost of the year.