How to Propagate Lily Of The Valley

Overview

Convallaria majalis (Lily of the Valley) makes a lovely ground cover, with small white or pink bell-shaped flowers which hang delicately from an arching stem. The plant flowers for several weeks in May and the leaves last through summer. The plant can grow in full sun or shade and is not bothered by pests. Lily of the Valley is also a tough plant, able to grow where many cannot, including in very root-dense areas and under trees. Before planting Lily of the Valley, be aware that the plant can become invasive.

Prepare to Propagate

Step 1

Prepare the bed where you intend to plant. Dig down about 6 inches and break apart the soil or shallow till the surface. Organic matter may be added during the process; the plants will tolerate poor soil. Lily of the Valley prefers moist soil but can tolerate occasional dry spells.

Step 2

Wait until the plants begin to lose their vigor, become overcrowded or act every four years to divide the rhizomes. Dig the plants out of place in clumps. Lily of the Valley spreads out horizontally, with shallow roots branching off the rhizome, so you do not need to dig deep, but dig several inches away from the edge of the clump to maximize the number of roots left intact.

Step 3

Divide the clumps at the rhizome, using a knife or hatchet to separate the fleshy root into sections. Divide rhizomes in late summer or early fall.

Step 4

Try to leave a healthy pip (the buds at the end of the rhizome) and roots on each section you intend to plant. Each section should also have a set of green leaves intact to help feed the plant during the establishment process.

Step 5

Space plants 6 to 8 inches apart to allow them to spread. They will fill in the gaps as they grow. According to the Michigan State University Extension Service, the rhizomes should be placed so that pips are situated 1 inch beneath the soil. Spread out the roots following their natural growth pattern. Cover the roots completely and pat the dirt to firm.

Step 6

Fertilize by adding a thick layer of compost or organic matter in the fall. Healthy plants achieve a height of 6 inches tall.

Tips and Warnings

  • Many parts of the plant have potential medical uses, but berries produced by Lily of the Valley are poisonous.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Tiller
  • Knife or hatchet
  • Compost or organic matter

References

  • Michigan State University Extension--Convallaria Majalis: Lily-of-the-Valley
  • University of Minnesota Extension--Gardening in the Shade
  • University of Missouri Extension--Home Propagation of Garden and Landscape Plants

Who Can Help

  • Washington State University-- Lily of the Valley
Keywords: divide rhizomes, Lily of the Valley, ground cover

About this Author

Alice Moon has been a freelance writer for one year, writing on the Internet for over 10 years. Moon holds a B.S. in political science (Asian studies minor). She was chosen as a Smithsonian Institute intern, working for the National Zoo in Washington, DC. She traveled through Asia as part of a delegation from her university to its sister universities overseas.