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How to Care for Oriental Lilies Indoors

By Sarah Morse ; Updated September 21, 2017
Oriental lily blooms deepen in color with fertilization.
oriental lily anthers image by Janet Wall from Fotolia.com

Oriental lilies offer large, fragrant flowers, adding an exotic scent to a home in mid to late summer when the plant blooms. They can reach 3 to 6 feet tall and come in shades of white, pink or crimson splashed with contrasting colors, according to University of Iowa Extension. These plants grow well both indoors and outdoors, but indoors the gardener can control the environment more easily. Knowledge of what this plant needs to thrive will help you produce long-lasting blooms.

Fill a large, well-drained pot with a potting medium, such as 50 percent peat, 25 percent sandy loam, and 25 percent pumice. This will provide a porous, well-drained potting medium with the slightly acidic pH lilies prefer.

Plant the Oriental lily bulb 2 to 3 inches deep in this potting medium. Any shallower and the flower will not bloom properly. Tamp down the soil firmly, but gently, after planting to ensure that the bulb stays put. Place the lily in a south- or east-facing window with filtered sunlight.

Water the lily deeply after planting. Keep the lily uniformly moist, but not soaking wet, for the first three weeks after planting. When the shoot is 3 to 6 inches tall the root system is well-established and the plant can withstand slightly more or slightly less water.

Fertilize the lily sparingly. The bulb usually provides enough nutrients for the plants up to the time of flowering. Once flower buds become visible, fertilize with a well-balanced liquid fertilizer with the amounts recommended on the package. Well-balanced fertilizers will have the same three numbers listed on their packages, such as 6-6-6 or 8-8-8. These numbers represent the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the fertilizer. Fertilize again 14 days later to darken the foliage. Do not over-fertilize or the stems will become weak.

Slow down watering and fertilizing in the fall, gradually stopping, so the bulb can go dormant for the winter. Begin watering again in early spring so the Oriental lily can come back with vigor.


Things You Will Need

  • Large, well-drained pot
  • Peat
  • Sandy loam
  • Pumice
  • Water
  • Fertilizer


  • You can plant bulbs in a container during the spring, fall or summer months.
  • Cooling the bulbs at around 34 degrees for six to eight weeks before planting will help them grow more quickly, according to University of Florida Extension.

About the Author


Sarah Morse has been a writer since 2009, covering environmental topics, gardening and technology. She holds a bachelor's degree in English language and literature, a master's degree in English and a master's degree in information science.