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How to Plant Lily Bulbs

Lilies come in a wide variety of styles from traditional white flowers to exotic Tiger lilies with unique patterns on the flower petals. This bulb plant has many options in height for adding variety to the garden. Lily bulbs grow incredibly well in well-drained soil in the full sun. Learning how to plant lily bulbs involves the creation of the healthiest site possible for the newly planted bulbs. Proper watering and division when needed helps this lovely plant multiply and thrive as a landscape mainstay.

Select a location featuring full sun (6 to 8 hours each day). Lilies thrive in bright light but prefer cool soil temperatures.

Prepare the planting bed by excavating a hole about 1 foot around for each lily bulb. Use the trowel to dig down about 6 inches and flip the soil over. Stirring up the soil makes root growth and water absorption easier for the plant. Compacted soils don't promote vigorous root growth and spreading.

Throw two handfuls of peat moss into the planting hole and mix up the dirt. Peat moss acts as a natural fertilizer with organic properties that reduce soil acidity, promote good drainage and enhance the quality of the garden soil.

Scoop out a hole to a depth of 4 to 6 inches to plant the lily bulb. Space individual bulb 6 to 12 inches from nearby lily bulbs to allow plenty of room for foliage growth. Place the bulb in the hole with the nose (pointy part) pointing upwards and fill in around the entire bulb with the amended soil mixture. Firm the soil gently with your hands.

Place a layer of mulch 3 to 4 inches deep over the lilies. Lilies prefer cool soil temperatures and mulch acts as a natural cooling barrier to keep roots and bulbs cool during the hottest part of the summer.

Water the bulb by soaking the ground rather than lightly spraying the surface of the garden. Set the garden hose to a trickle and place the hose near the planting site. Water will slowly percolate down through the mixed soil to reach the bulbs.


Divide lily bulbs in the fall after all foliage has died. Dig up the entire clump and shake off excess soil. Use a sharp trowel to separate the clump into 3 to 4 sections and replant quickly. Don't allow the bulbs to dry out.

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