Lilies for the Garden

When should I plant my lilies?

The best time to plant lilies is in either the spring or fall of the year. Regardless of the time of year, however, it is important to get the bulbs in the ground as soon as possible after purchasing them. Unlike many other types of bulbs, lily bulbs do not store well.

What is the difference between a daylily and a garden lily?

The plant known to gardeners as the garden lily is grown from a bulb, but the plant known as the daylily actually grows from a corm. In addition, the daylily contains many leaves that grow from the corm, but the garden lily contains only one shoot that contains leaves. That shoot grows directly from the bulb.

How deep should lily bulbs be planted?

The general rule of thumb for many types of bulbs, including lily bulbs, is to plant them three times as deep as the bulbs are wide. For instance, a two inch wide lily bulb would be planted to a depth of six inches; In addition, lilies should be planted in groups for the best effect when they bloom. It is a good idea to dig a hole to the proper depth, then plant several bulbs together in that hole.

How do I propagate lilies?

Garden lilies are best propagated through breaking off a few of their scales in the spring or fall and planting them approximately one inch deep. Daylilies can be propagated by dividing the corms and planting them. In addition, some lilies will produce bulbils, which may appear to be black or dark green seeds. These bulbils are found at the point at which the lily leaf meets the stem. Even though these bulbils are not really seeds, they can be planted, and they will emerge within two or three years of planting.

Should I cut back my lily after it has finished blooming?

tiger lilyAfter the lily has bloomed, it is best to remove only the stem itself. That is because garden lilies will continue to feed off their foliage, and lilies that are left to die off naturally tend to grow better the next year. On the other hand, daylilies usually bloom for longer periods of time. The blooming season of daylilies can be extended if the gardener deadheads the blooms and cuts back the stems. After the blooming season is over, the foliage on the daylily should be allowed to die back naturally.

Can Easter lilies be planted outside?

Many people are interested in planting their Easter liliesBurmuda Lily outside, and it is fine to attempt that.  The main problem with Easter lilies is that they do not bloom naturally at Easter time.  Easter lilies are actually forced to bloom at that time of year by the florist.  This forced blooming can make it harder for the lily to grow properly once it is transplanted.

If you plan to transplant your Easter lily after you have enjoyed it outside, the following steps will help increase your chances of its survival:

  • Plant the lily in a sunny spot using well drained soil
  • Use a good, high quality planting mix
  • Plant the bulbs three inches under the surface of the soil and also place an additional three inches of soil on the top
  • Allow enough space for the lily to spread its roots
  • Water the newly transplanted lily thoroughly


Lilies, like Narcissus, are organized into divisions. Also like Narcissus, some classes of Lilium are better suited to North Texas gardens than others.


(Div. I)

2-4 feet

Earliest to bloom; up-facing flowers.

Due to their height, they should be sited at the front or middle of the border. They are easy to grow, which makes up somewhat for their lack of fragrance.


(Div. II)

3-6 feet

Also called turkscap lily, they are woodland plants and can have as many as 50 dainty, down-facing blooms.

I pine for them, but given that Lily Nook's "starter martagon" is $10 each and they don't like hot climates, I'm skittish.


(Div. VI)

2-8 feet

Classic Easter lily form. Bloom in mid- to late summer; deliciously fragrant.

Their huge flower heads often require staking, but extra measures are well rewarded with gorgeous blossoms.


(Div. VII)

Up to 3 feet

Flowers can be 10 inches broad; powerful fragrance.

Also called 'Stargazers', Orientals prefer mildly acid soil and don't like hot climates. Buy bulbs in spring and plant them in deep pots (to help keep their roots cool) with azalea soil and a deep, loose mulch.


(Div. VIII)

3-5 feet

Includes post-1950 crosses between classes. Bred for garden performance.

Orienpets are a good substitute for Orientals because they are more heat-hardy.


(Div. IX)

2-5 feet

Distinct forms and cultivation needs.

The wild plants from which breeders develop hybrids. Their graceful, nodding form makes them perfect for cottage gardens. Some are easy and some are difficult, but mail-order sources aimed at serious gardeners warn of the difficulties.

Have you looked at our other How To Flower Articles or our Flower Picture gallery?