How to Plant a Lily Bulb


Lily bulbs can be planted in the spring or fall depending on the variety. Most types of lilies begin bloom in early summer, and some bloom all the way into early fall. They make wonderful cut flowers, as they live for quite a while in a vase and have a pleasing fragrance. They are also showy in a border garden. These hardy, pest-resistant flowers are terrific for first-time gardeners or gardeners who do not have a lot of time to nurture fragile plants.

Step 1

Select a location that is optimum for lily growth. Lilies thrive in well-drained sites and do not do well in heavily alkaline soil. Avoid planting in any area that tends to accumulate water, as standing water can rot lily bulbs.

Step 2

Let there be light. Make sure your lily bulbs are not too shaded by trees or buildings. While they can tolerate a bit of afternoon shade, they prefer full sun.

Step 3

Use a shovel and rake to break up the soil at least a foot deep. Add 2 to 4 inches of compost on top of the loose soil, then work the compost into the top layer of the soil with the rake.

Step 4

Dig a hole around 6 inches deep, and place the lily bulb at the bottom of the hole. Use a bulb planter for quick digging. Make sure the bulb has the root end down (the flatter side) and the growing end up (the pointy side).

Step 5

Fill in the hole. Tamp down the soil and cover the planting area with 2 inches of mulch to retain moisture. Water thoroughly, then water once a week if the weather is hot and dry.


  • National Gardening Association: Lily Planting Guide

Who Can Help

  • Dutch Gardens: How to Grow Lilies
Keywords: lily bulbs, plant bulbs, planting lilies

About this Author

April Sanders has been a writer and educator for 11 years. She is a published curriculum writer and has provided academic content for several subscription databases. Sanders holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in social psychology and a Master's degree in information sciences and technology.