How to Take Care of Lilies


Planting lily bulbs offers a fun activity that rewards a gardener with beautiful summer flowers. The traditional white lilies given during the Easter season can be transplanted into the garden after the flowers die. Tiger and day lilies provide stunning flowers and foliage during the summer growing season. Lily bulbs offer low-maintenance plants that provide years of beautiful blooms with minimal care.

Step 1

Select a location that offers full sun, well-drained soil and protection from strong winds. Choose an area along a fence line or in front of a hedge or shrub to limit wind damage to the flowers and foliage. Your planting site should allow for plenty of space for this prolific multiplier to spread and grow.

Step 2

Dig a hole about 6 inches deep and a foot around. Extending outward from the initial planting site allows you to work soil conditioners into the surrounding garden to benefit the lily bulbs and the entire garden. Move the majority of the dirt to the side of the hole.

Step 3

Pour two-to-three handfuls of peat moss into the planting hole. Add a few handfuls to the filler soil pile as well. Peat moss improves soil quality by enhancing drainage and nutrients, and it helps to break up clay.

Step 4

Place an individual lily bulb so it lies 3 inches below the soil surface. Position the bulb so the sprouts (also called eyes) point upward. Plant multiple bulbs at least 12 to 18 inches apart to allow plenty of space for mature foliage.

Step 5

Fill in around the bulb, adding dirt between the roots and sections of the bulb. Firm the dirt with your hands to remove air pockets until the soil reaches surface garden level.

Step 6

Place a 2-to-3-inch layer of mulch on the garden surface. Lilies prefer cool soil and cannot tolerate the extreme heat created in unprotected soil. Mulch forms a barrier that controls temperature and retains moisture around the bulb.

Step 7

Water the bulb plantings deeply using a soaker hose or by aiming the hose nozzle directly above the bulbs. Deep moisture will benefit the bulb rather than a light surface watering of the garden.

Step 8

Apply water-soluble fertilizer three to four times during the summer to encourage bulb formation and healthy foliage.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade shovel
  • Trowel
  • Peat moss
  • Bulbs
  • Fertilizer


  • Texas A&M University Extension
  • National Gardening Association
  • Penn State University
Keywords: lilies, caring for lilies, lily care

About this Author

Currently studying for her Maryland master gardener certification, Sharon Heron has written professionally since 2006. Her writing includes hundreds of articles on a wide range of topics including gardening, environment, golf, parenting, exercise, finances and consumer how-to articles.