When to Plant Lilies – Planting Guide 2024

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Lilies are a great way to add some bold pops of color to your garden. They are easy to grow and are perennial, so they will come back year after year. Let’s dive in to find out when to plant lilies.

When to plant lilies: There are many great benefits to growing lilies. Not only are they perennial and thus will continue to grow each year, but you can actually divide them once they mature. If you live in an area with mild winters, you can plant your lilies in the fall, four weeks before the first frost date. Then, they will pop up from the soil in the spring and bloom between spring and fall. If you have very cold winters, you will want to wait and plant your bulbs in the spring as soon as the threat of winter is over. You can also plant lilies in containers. You can keep them in a container or transplant them outside in the summer. Lilies come in a variety of colors and their trumpet shapes make for a gorgeous cut flower bouquet.

Planting Lilies in Different Climates

Tropical Climate

While lilies like warmth and sunshine, they also need a colder dormant season. A tropical climate might not tolerate this.

Dry Climate

Lilies might be ok in a dry climate. They don’t like their roots to be water-logged, so this might work out if you monitor their water levels. 

Temperate Climate

A temperate climate is ideal for most varieties of lilies. You can leave the bulbs in the ground over winter and not worry about them because of the moderate temperatures.

Continental Climate

Lilies may be ok in a continental climate. You will have to watch out for the very cold winter temperatures so choose a hardier variety.

Polar Climate

Unfortunately, a polar climate can’t support the growth of lilies.

Choosing Lilies Bulbs

Trumpet Lilies

With slightly smaller flowers, these are still a popular variety. They have a thin trumpet shape to them, hence the name.

Easter Lilies

If you are looking for a plant to gift a hostess for Easter dinner, this is a great option. Ready to bloom in March or April, they can actually be transplanted to an outdoor garden as long as it is warm enough.

Asiatic Lilies

If you want to plan out your garden, this is a good option as it will bloom in June once your peonies are done for the season. With short stems, they come in a wide range of colors so you can choose a few of your favorites.

Oriental Lilies

Those that love a strongly-scented garden will love this variety. Your garden and your home will be awash in a beautiful fragrance and the flowers will bloom during the summer.

How to Plant Lilies Bulbs

Lots of sunS

Lilies will do whatever it takes to reach sunlight so it’s best if you provide it to them right away. Aim to plant them in an area of your garden that gets between six to eight hours of direct sunlight.

If you plant your lilies in partial shade, they will actually lean over to get to a sunnier spot. The result can be weakened stems that are bent over.

Proper soil

It’s important that the soil you plant your lilies in drains well. If there is too much moisture in the soil, the bulbs will start to rot and your whole plant will die.

Dig up your soil first before planting. Mix in organic matter such as compost or aged manure.

If you are worried about compacted soil, dig further around the planting area. You can also add sand to help with the consistency.

When you do plant your lily bulbs, you want the hole to be fairly deep. Aim for a height three times the size of the bulb and place the bulb with the pointy end facing upwards.

Fall planting

There are many different types of lilies and they all have different bloom times. This can range from mid-spring to early fall.

However, no matter what the variety of lily you choose, you should aim to plant the bulbs in the fall. This will allow the roots to begin to establish themselves.

The cooler winter temperatures will also result in larger blooms, which is a real bonus. Aim to plant your bulbs four weeks before your first frost date. Depending on where you live, planting should be done in either September or October.

Most gardening stores are good about putting lily bulbs out for sale at the right time. Try to purchase the bulbs right before you want to plant them as otherwise, the bulbs can actually start to deteriorate.

Spring planting

If you live in an area with very cold winters, you can still try your hand with lilies. There are some cold-hardy varieties that will work well.

If this is the case, then you want to wait until early spring before planting outside. Otherwise, the new bulbs might not survive the very cold winter.

Plant your lily bulbs in the ground as soon as the threat of frost is over. They should still bloom in the upcoming spring.

Container planting

Lilies make for great container flowers and can be grown either inside or outside. If you start with lilies that are already in a container and want to transfer them to your garden, early summer is best.

How to Water Lilies

After you plant your lily bulbs, you will want to give them good watering. As this is most likely in the fall, you shouldn’t have to water afterward. However, if it is a dry fall, then consider giving your lilies another watering or two.

Once your lilies start to grow again in the spring, you should aim to water them two or three times a week. This is dependent on your local weather patterns.

Lilies like sunshine but may not do well with extreme heat. If you have a very hot summer, be sure to give them extra water in the morning to keep them hydrated.

How to Grow Lilies

Add mulch

An important step in growing lilies is to add mulch. This will help keep the soil moist so you don’t have to water as much and risk over-saturating the roots.

Mulch in the fall, before the ground, starts to freeze. This will insulate the soil and keep it cool but not frozen.

As a result, the roots of your lilies will keep growing and give you a longer growing season.

You may want to remove the mulch from the ground once spring hits, in order to allow your lilies to grow through the soil. However, you may find that the mulch has already started to decompose.

Add support

Some varieties of lilies can grow to be quite tall. You will want to use stakes to offer support.

Add the stakes to your lilies once they start growing in the spring. This will allow them to have support right away so that they don’t tumble over in the summer.

Leave the foliage

The petals of your lilies will naturally fall off once their blooming season is over. Lilies only bloom once a year so once they are done, you have to wait until the next season.

While you can cut back the stem of the lily, it’s important not to remove the leaves at the base. These leaves will actually provide nutrients to the lily bulb underground. If you want a healthy, large lily plant, don’t remove the leaves until the fall, once they turn brown.

Divide the plants

Lilies will continue to grow each year and unless you have a lot of garden space, they can take up a lot of room. The good news is that it is very easy to divide lilies.

Aim to divide them every three or four years. If you run out of garden space, you can always offer some to neighbors.

The best time to divide the plants is in the spring, right when there is new growth. Gently lift the plants out of the soil and divide them into clumps.

Add some compost to the soil you want to plant them in and you’re golden.


Lilies prefer a fertilizer that is rich in potassium, so be sure to look for a higher ratio of this nutrient. Too much nitrogen and you will have lilies that have dense foliage but small blooms.

Add a liquid fertilizer to the area where your lilies are planted. Start adding this in the spring and then continue every two weeks, up until they have finished flowering.

How long do lilies take to grow?

Lilies only take one growing season to start to bloom. They will be ready in the spring or summer after a fall planting.


There are many different types of lilies and they add some wonderful color to your garden. Lilies are also great if you want to plant a cutting garden. Plant your lilies in the fall and depending on the variety, they will bloom from mid-spring to early fall.

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