How to Cultivate a Lily of the Valley


Convallaria majalis, also known as lily of the valley, looks dainty, but are tough little plants. Grown from fleshy rhizomes known as 'pips,' they produce broad, dark green leaves and fragrant, delicate bell-shaped blossoms that grow in clusters on stems that grow from 8 to 10 inches high. Since they bloom in early- to mid-spring, lily of the valley work well for naturalizing shady spots in the yard. Once they are established, they require little care.

Step 1

Select a location for lily of the valley that has partial shade. Plant them under deciduous trees or in mixed beds or borders.

Step 2

Plant the flowers in soil that is moisture-retentive yet well draining. Amend poor soil with large amounts of compost or well-rotted manure.

Step 3

Plant the pips from October to December. Plant them 1 inch deep and 4 inches apart.

Step 4

Cover the beds with 2 inches of compost, manure, mulch or decaying leaves. No other fertilizer is required for lily of the valley.

Step 5

Keep the soil moist during the growing season. Water the flowers deeply once a week, but avoid watering to the point that the ground stays soggy, as this can rot the roots.

Step 6

Do not cut the foliage after the lily of the valley flowers. Leave the flowers undisturbed for several years, to allow them to establish. Lift and divide crowded beds in the fall or early winter. Replant the divided sections 4 inches apart.

Tips and Warnings

  • Lily of the Valley contains several poisonous substances. Keep these flowers out of the reach of children and animals.

Things You'll Need

  • Shovel
  • Compost or well-rotted manure
  • Mulch or decaying leaves


  • The Complete Garden Flower Book; Catie Ziller, Publisher; 2001

Who Can Help

  • NC State University: Flowering Bulbs
  • University of Maryland Medical Center: Poisonous Plants
Keywords: bulbs, lily of the valley, perennial

About this Author

Since 1995, H.B. Dean has written more than 2,000 articles for publications including “PB&J,” Disney’s “Family Fun,” “ParentLife,” Living With Teenagers,” and Thomas Nelson’s NYTimes Best-selling “Resolve.” After 17 years of homeschooling her five children, Dean discovered that motherhood doesn’t stop with an empty nest.