How to Plant & Grow Trilliums


Planting trillium flowers successfully can be difficult. Seeds take up to two years to germinate and must be sown immediately upon harvesting, making them impractical for most gardeners. Trillium also does not transplant well, although container-grown plants are found occasionally at garden centers. For the best results, plant and grow trillium from dormant rhizomes, which can be ordered from gardening mail-order establishments or purchased from nurseries. Once you get them started, trillium plants need almost no maintenance or care and will thrive under the right conditions.

Step 1

Plant trillium rhizomes in late summer. Choose a planting site with moist, fertile, well-draining soil that receives filtered sunlight throughout the day. Trillium flowers are native to woodland areas, so planting beneath large deciduous trees in your yard is ideal.

Step 2

Prepare the planting area by cultivating the soil to a depth of at least 6 inches. Use a garden tiller for large areas or a garden spade for smaller sites. Add a 1- to 2-inch layer of organic compost and incorporate into the soil before planting.

Step 3

Dig planting holes for your trillium rhizomes about 24 inches apart and 2 to 4 inches deep. Place a rhizome inside each hole with the "eye" facing up, and then gently cover with soil. Water the area immediately to initiate growth and compact the soil.

Step 4

Apply a 2- to 3-inch layer of mulch to the planting site to protect the newly planted rhizomes over winter. New growth will appear the following spring, usually around April, and continue through summer, although blooming will take several years.

Step 5

Water trillium plants only if they are in an area that dries out during the hot summer months. Otherwise, they need no supplemental care and will soon colonize the area where they were planted, creating a thick, attractive ground cover.

Tips and Warnings

  • Only purchase trillium plants if you're certain they have not been harvested from the wild. The plants are suffering from habitat loss and poachers. Do not pick trillium flowers, as this can weaken or even kill the plant.

Things You'll Need

  • Garden tiller
  • Garden spade
  • Organic compost
  • Mulch


  • Cornell University Flower Growing Guides: Trillium
  • University of Tennessee Gardens' Plant of the Month: Trillium
  • "Illinois Gardener's Guide;" James A. Fizzell; 2002
Keywords: trillium, flowers, plants

About this Author

Willow Sidhe is a freelance writer living in the beautiful Hot Springs, AR. She is a certified aromatherapist with a background in herbalism. She has extensive experience gardening, with a specialty in indoor plants and herbs. Sidhe's work has been published on numerous Web sites, including