While it is a bit of a misnomer, as the lily of the valley isn’t actually a lily, it is a delicate, beautiful plant that can add a burst of life to any garden. Learn when to plant Lily of the Valley so it has the best chance of success.
When to plant Lily of the Valley: With deep green leaves and petite white blossoms, Lily of the Valley is a decadent plant that thrives in the shade and cool temperatures. It should be planted in the fall when it is dormant, and then can establish itself over the winter. Lily of the Valley will sprout from the ground every spring and will then blossom in the summer.
Planting Lily of the Valley in Different Climates
The warm atmosphere and lack of a dormant season mean the Lily of the Valley plant is not meant for a tropical climate.
Because Lily of the Valley needs moist soil and cool temperatures, a dry climate is not good for it.
Lily of the Valley needs moist soil and mild temperatures, so a temperate climate is the best for the plant.
Lily of the Valley prefers mild temperatures and a continental climate may have summers that are too hot. If you regularly have temperatures that are above 80 degrees Fahrenheit, this can severely impact the plant. The good news, however, is that even if your Lily of the Valley dies back in hot summers, the entire plant won’t actually die. Instead, it will come back the following spring for a new growing season.
Lily of the Valley will not survive a polar climate.
Choosing Lily of the Valley Seeds
Lily of the Valley plants starts with bulbs that you plant in the soil. There are a few varieties you may want to choose from.
Perhaps the most common Lily of the Valley variety, this is native to North America and thus grows prolifically. It is perfect for ground cover and is very hardy.
Another common variety, you can expect dark green leaves and lovely white blossoms.
While not as widespread as the traditional variety, Rosea does offer very pretty blooms. They have a pink shade to them that is quite lovely.
How to Plant Lily of the Valley Seeds
Lily of the Valley plants flowers in the summer so you want to time your planting around this. The plant should be in a dormant state, which is why fall is an ideal time.
However, you can get away with planting in the spring, especially if you are transplanting established flowers. Lily of the Valley starts as bulbs, or rhizomes, which then go into the ground.
These underground tubers will spread out and while the plant will be dormant over winter, it will erupt into growth in the spring before blooming in the summer.
The perfect place
Unlike other flowers, Lily of the Valley actually prefers full shade. If you need to, partial shade is ok, and while the flower may be ok in full sun, it’s best to keep it cool.
One thing to really keep in mind is that Lily of the Valley can spread quickly. In fact, if left on its own, it can actually take over most of your garden.
Unless you want this to happen, you should only plant Lily of the Valley in a closed-off section of your garden, or even in a container. This way the roots can’t grow un-impeded.
One great benefit of Lily of the Valley is that it is fairly versatile. While it does prefer soil that drains well, it is quite hardy and you can plant it in a number of soil conditions, and don’t have to worry about the pH level.
You may be tempted to add fertilizer to the soil but Lily of the Valley doesn’t actually need any. As long as your soil isn’t terrible, you don’t need to add anything to it.
Dig the hole
The hole for your Lily of the Valley plants does not need to be deep as the soil only has to lightly cover the bulb. So, once you have your plant bulbs, simply dig a hole that is as deep as it is.
Place the bulbs, or rhizomes, in the hole. If you want to increase the rate of moisture intake, you can snip off the edge of a rhizome.
Cover the rhizome with soil so that it is just barely covered. Then, give the area a good watering.
If you want to plant more than one Lily of the Valley, spread them out by 4 inches. Remember that the plants will quickly spread out so you don’t need to plant too many rhizomes.
How to Water Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley prefers moist soil when growing. However, like most plants, you don’t want the soil to be soggy, or else the roots can rot and die.
Planting your Lily of the Valley in a shaded area means the soil shouldn’t dry out too easily, so you won’t have to water too much. If the temperature rises and it isn’t raining a lot, you should then hand water your plant to ensure the soil remains moist.
How to Grow Lily of the Valley
Lily of the Valley is a prolific grower, sometimes too much for its own good. If you let it be, the plant will take over as much space as possible.
Obviously, this might not be ideal for most gardens. The good news is that Lily of the Valley is easy to divide.
Even if you have room for this plant, you might still want to divide it periodically. If you notice the flowering is less robust as your plant ages, this is a sign it’s time to divide.
Wait until the plant is dormant, in either spring or fall. Under the ground, you will find a network of bulbs and roots, called rhizomes.
Dig up these rhizomes and then separate them out. You can then plant these rhizomes in other parts of your garden, in containers, or gift them to neighbors.
Plant the rhizomes in the soil as if they were new plants. Give them a good watering and they should take hold fairly soon.
Leave the foliage
After your Lily of the Valley blooms, you may be tempted to clean the plant up. However, while you can remove the spent blooms, you should keep the foliage in place.
This foliage will keep producing energy through photosynthesis, which is then stored in the bulb underground. The more foliage there is, the healthier your plant will be the following year.
Lily of the Valley can live for a very long time. And, while it doesn’t need a lot of help, you can still add a bit of compost to keep it going.
Once a year, in the spring, add compost to the area around your Lily of the Valley. Gently dig it in around the plant but be aware of the network of rhizomes underneath.
You can also add a layer of bark mulch around the plant. This will prevent weeds from growing as well as keep the soil moist, which the plant loves.
How long does it take to grow lily of the valley?
After you plant your Lily of the Valley in the fall, it will emerge from the soil in the spring. Then, that same summer you can expect flowers to bloom.
Lily of the Valley is a perennial so the plant will become dormant in the fall and winter before growing again every spring.
What is the best month to plant lilies in the valley?
Lily of the Valley should be planted in the fall before the ground freezes over. Depending on where you live, this could be in October or November.
Is Lily of the Valley toxic?
Unfortunately, Lily of the Valley flowers might not be the right plant for you because it is actually toxic. In fact, all parts of the plant, including the flowers, stems, and leaves are toxic.
While touching the plant won’t cause any issues, you should still take a few precautions and make sure you wear gloves while handling the plant. You should also wash your hands after gardening.
The biggest threat Lily of the Valley has is if you ingest it. While adults can probably manage to stay away from this, young children and pets may accidentally eat the plant.
If you decide to plant Lily of the Valley and you have a dog, make sure there is a sturdy fence between the plant and the rest of the yard. You may also want to plant it at the back of a garden, near a fence so that there isn’t easy access to it.
Lily of the Valley is a prolific grower that adds a luscious ground cover to any garden. You should plant the bulbs in the fall and come spring the plant will grow and then blossom in the summer.