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How to Plant Oriental Lilies in Florida

Lilium oriental hybrids image by Andrew Filatov from

While oriental lilies are a common flower throughout northern states, they are much rarer in Florida. To bloom, oriental lily bulbs need a cold period that Florida's winter cannot provide. Savvy Florida gardeners can get around this requirement by purchasing pre-chilled oriental lily bulbs and planting them during the winter months. While some varieties of oriental lilies will not do well in Florida even with this precaution, many cultivars can grow and thrive if planted at the right time and cared for thereafter.

Select an oriental lily cultivar that performs well in Florida, choosing from the list of hybrid oriental lilies tested by the University of Florida (see Resources below). With pink, white, red, orange, yellow and variegated types of oriental lily, the Florida gardener can find a lily in almost any color that can grow in Florida.

Purchase frozen lily bulbs in December or January or fresh Oriental lily bulbs in March. Florida gardeners must plant Oriental lily bulbs that have been forced into chill, since the native Florida winter does not get cold enough to chill the plants naturally. Gardeners can choose either frozen or fresh bulbs with little difference in the end result, and should plan to plant bulbs immediately after purchase.

Choose a location that offers the lilies at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Oriental lilies require a well-drained soil with organic material. Florida gardeners can grow the lilies in the soil or plant them in containers.

Amend the ground soil if you plan to plant the lilies directly in the ground. Work compost or peat moss into the soil, incorporating a 2-inch thick layer of the organic matter across your garden bed. Turn the soil and organic matter over with a shovel to add nutrients and make the soil more well-draining.

If you plan to grow lilies in a container, purchase containers with drainage holes in the bottom and a well-balanced potting mix.

Dig holes for your lilies, spacing them at least 8 inches apart. Small oriental lily bulbs should be planted 2 to 4 inches deep, while large bulbs (which are marketed as such) belong 4 to 6 inches under ground.

if you're planting in a container, fill the container most of the way full, leaving 2 to 6 inches free. Then place the bulbs directly in the container and cover them over with soil.

Drop one bulb in each hole. Cover over the hole with soil but do not compact the soil.

Water the newly planted bulbs until the soil becomes saturated with water.


Oriental lilies will bloom in the spring in Florida. They are not equipped for hot summer and dislike temperatures over 85 F.

Dig up bulbs after the flowers have passed and store them in the freezer until the next winter, when they can be replanted.

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