How to Plant Easter Lily Bulbs in the Garden


Nellie White is the cultivar most widely offered as the traditional Easter lily in gardening centers and florist shops nationwide. With a large, open white trumpet bloom sitting atop tall, deep green stalks covered in lance-shaped leaves, the Easter lily has long been a symbol of Christ's death and resurrection for the holiday season. The Bermuda lily was brought to the U.S. by a World War I soldier and has been in cultivation by avid West Coast growers for decades, providing Easter lilies to adorn celebration tables the world over. The beauty of this lily is its adaptability. Plant it in your garden, following a few simple steps, and you will enjoy lilies for years to come.

Step 1

Allow the flower to completely die away if the lily bulb was originally potted as an indoor plant for the holiday. Leave the foliage intact. Bulbs may be planted outdoors after frost danger has passed.

Step 2

Choose a location outdoors in full sun to part shade. Lilies tend to prefer shaded roots with sun available to warm the flowers.

Step 3

Prepare the soil for improved drainage. Till soil and amend with organic compost, mounding it into a raised bed.

Step 4

Plant the bulb 6 inches deep, which will include a 2 inch layer of organic mulch, such as pine bark or needles, spread over the top of the bed once planted.

Step 5

Water the bulb well and keep the soil moist through the rest of the growing season.

Step 6

Remove foliage that has browned and died back, and a second set of blooms is rare but possible. Remove all dead foliage in the fall and cut the stalk back to ground level. Keep a continuous layer of mulch over the bulb throughout the winter.

Step 7

Fertilize with a slow-release blend over the soil when new shoots emerge in the spring. Avoid letting fertilizer rest on new shoots as it can burn the tender foliage. Remove mulch at this time. Flowers should return in June or July in subsequent seasons.

Things You'll Need

  • Easter lily bulb
  • Trowel
  • Organic compost
  • Organic mulch
  • Slow-release fertilizer


  • University of Nebraska-Lincoln Extension, Easter Lily Care
  • Clemson University Cooperative Extension, Easter Lily
  • University of Illinois Extension, Plant Palette: Easter Lily
Keywords: growing Easter lilies, planting lily bulbs, care of Easter lily bulbs

About this Author

Desirae Roy holds a Bachelor of Arts in elementary education, with a focus on reading and special education. Also an interpreter for the deaf, she facilitates communication for students who learn in an inspiring way. Roy cultivates a life long love of learning and enjoys sharing her journey with others through writing.