How to Care for an Asiatic Lily


A lily is not necessarily a real lily. Peace lilies aren't real lilies, and neither are day lilies. Real lilies all belong to the Lilium genus and grow from fleshy bulbs made up of scales without protective coverings. They also have long, narrow leaves that are often described as "strap-like." Lily blooms may be bell, bowl or trumpet shaped, come in multitudes of brilliant colors and color combinations, and are often fragrant. Of the true lilies, Asiatics are the hardiest and easiest to grow and maintain, so they're perfect for the beginning gardener. Your Asiatic lilies will thrive for many years to come. All they ask is at least six hours of direct sun each day and adequate food and water.

Step 1

Amend your prepared planting site with fertilizer when you plant in late October before freezing weather threatens your area. Use a slow-release 16-20-0 or 11-48-0 product and follow the packaging instructions carefully. Don't use manure unless it's well-aged and composted.

Step 2

Plant Asiatic lily bulbs in groups of three or more about 12 to 18 inches apart in a sunny, fertile, well-draining spot. Position them so that the roots are downward. Small bulbs should be planted 3 to 4 inches deep, while larger ones should be covered with about 4 to 6 inches of soil. Firm the planting well to eliminate air pockets.

Step 3

Water the planting site thoroughly. The soil surface should be evenly moist, but not soggy or wet. Don't let the area dry out. Keep it well watered until freezing weather arrives.

Step 4

Mark the locations of your Asiatic lilies with garden stakes or wood craft sticks. Label them with variety and date of planting.

Step 5

Apply a 3- to 4-inch deep layer of mulch, such as compost or grass clippings. This will help to keep roots warm when cold weather arrives. Mulching will also go a long way toward controlling weeds, conserving moisture and keeping soil cool during the next growing season.

Step 6

Water Asiatics when plants begin emerging in the spring. Keep the soil evenly moist but don't allow the plants to get wet feet (too much water pooling around the roots). Keep your lilies free of weeds.

Step 7

Feed your Asiatics a slow-release 16-20-0 or 11-48-0 fertilizer in late spring, and once every spring thereafter. Follow the package instructions carefully.

Step 8

Cut Asiatic lilies freely to enjoy in your arrangements from mid- to late summer. Break completely spent blooms carefully from their stems when deadheading plants throughout the season.

Step 9

Cut the plants back to ground level in late fall.

Step 10

Dig up and divide Asiatic lily bulbs in the fall if they have been short and spindly during the past growing season.

Things You'll Need

  • Slow-release 16-20-0 or 11-48-0 fertilizer
  • Mulch (compost or grass clippings)
  • Garden stakes or craft sticks


  • University of Saskatchewan: Lilies
  • Viva! Garden: Viva! Asiatic lilies
  • University of Minnesota Extension: Selecting Lilies for Your Garden
Keywords: asiatic lily, lilium care, grow asiatic lilies

About this Author

Axl J. Amistaadt began as a part-time amateur freelance writer in 1985, turned professional in 2005, and became a full-time writer in 2007. Amistaadt’s major focus is publishing material for GardenGuides. Areas of expertise include home gardening, horticulture, alternative and home remedies, pets, wildlife, handcrafts, cooking, and juvenile science experiments.