The white bell-shaped flowers of Lilies of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) bloom in mid-spring and fill the air with a sweet scent. The plants are only 6 to 8 inches tall and colonize rapidly. If the growing conditions are suitable, Lilies of the Valley can spread aggressively.
Although some packages of Lilies of the Valley are labeled as bulbs, they actually grow from rhizomes–long horizontal roots–that have pips, or large buds, on each end.
Buy rhizomes for Lilies of the Valley from a reputable local nursery or online source. Choose firm roots; they should not be soft or mushy.
Store the rhizomes in a dry cool place in a paper sack or in sawdust until you are ready to plant them in early fall or early spring.
When you get ready to plant the rhizomes, soak them in lukewarm water for about 2 hours. The rhizomes should swell up and feel hard.
Choose a planting area in the shade with moist, but not soggy, soil. Use a small gardening fork to work compost or some other organic matter into the soil, breaking up any large clumps.
Use a small hand trowel to dig a hole wide enough for a rhizome to lay flat with the pips about 1 inch below the surface of the soil. Cover with soil and tamp down firmly. Space plants 2 to 4 inches apart.
Water thoroughly but do not soak the soil.