Beginners Guide to Growing Lilies from Bulbs

When it comes to adding a touch of elegance and beauty to your garden, few flowers can compete with lilies. These stunning blooms are renowned for their vibrant colors, delicate petals, and intoxicating fragrance. While some gardeners may be intimidated by the idea of growing lilies from bulbs, it is actually a rewarding and straightforward process that even beginners can master.

Growing lilies from bulbs offers a multitude of benefits that make them a popular choice among gardeners. First and foremost is the incredible variety of colors and types available. From the classic white lilies that evoke a sense of purity and innocence to the fiery red lilies that demand attention, there is a lily to suit every taste and garden style. Whether you prefer the elegance of the Asiatic lilies, the fragrant Oriental lilies, or the majestic Trumpet lilies, the options are virtually endless.

Another advantage of growing lilies from bulbs is their ease of cultivation. Unlike some finicky plants that require constant attention and care, lilies are relatively low-maintenance and forgiving. With a little knowledge and a willingness to provide the necessary growing conditions, even novice gardeners can enjoy a successful lily garden. Plus, growing lilies from bulbs is a cost-effective way to enhance your garden, as bulbs are generally more affordable than purchasing fully-grown plants.

In this comprehensive guide, we will walk you through the process of growing lilies from bulbs, from selecting the right bulbs to caring for your plants and harvesting the bulbs for future seasons. Whether you are a seasoned gardener looking to expand your floral repertoire or a beginner eager to embark on a new horticultural adventure, this guide will equip you with the knowledge and confidence to create a stunning lily garden that will be the envy of all who behold it.

So, roll up your sleeves, grab your gardening tools, and let’s dive into the wonderful world of growing lilies from bulbs!

Benefits of Growing Lilies from Bulbs

When it comes to adding beauty and elegance to your garden, growing lilies from bulbs is an excellent choice. These vibrant and fragrant flowers are a favorite among gardeners for many reasons. Let’s explore the benefits of growing lilies from bulbs in more detail.

Variety of Colors and Types

One of the most exciting aspects of growing lilies from bulbs is the wide variety of colors and types available. From delicate pastels to bold and vibrant hues, lilies come in an array of shades that can complement any garden theme or color scheme. Whether you prefer the classic elegance of white lilies or the dramatic beauty of deep reds and purples, there is a lily variety to suit your taste.

Not only do lilies offer an impressive color range, but they also come in different types. Oriental lilies with their large, showy blooms and intense fragrance are a popular choice for garden enthusiasts. On the other hand, Asiatic lilies are known for their wide range of colors and sturdy stems. By choosing different types of lilies, you can create a visually stunning and diverse garden.

Easy to Grow

Another advantage of growing lilies from bulbs is that they are easy to grow. Even if you’re a beginner gardener, you can successfully cultivate these beautiful flowers. Lilies are known for their resilience and ability to adapt to various growing conditions. With just a little care and attention, you can enjoy a bountiful display of lilies in your garden.

To get started, simply plant the bulbs in well-draining soil and provide them with adequate sunlight and water. Lilies are generally low-maintenance plants, requiring minimal effort once established. With their natural ability to thrive, you’ll be rewarded with stunning blooms year after year.


Growing lilies from bulbs is also a cost-effective way to enhance your garden. Compared to buying fully grown lily plants, starting with bulbs allows you to save money without compromising on the beauty and quality of your garden.

In addition, lilies are perennial flowers, meaning they will come back year after year with proper care. This longevity makes them a wise investment for your garden. By planting lily bulbs, you can enjoy the beauty of these flowers for seasons to come, without having to constantly replenish your garden with new plants.

As you can see, there are numerous benefits to growing lilies from bulbs. The variety of colors and types, ease of cultivation, and cost-effectiveness make lilies an ideal choice for both experienced gardeners and beginners alike. So why wait? Start your journey into the world of lilies and watch your garden come alive with their vibrant blooms.

Selecting and Preparing Your Bulbs

When it comes to growing lilies from bulbs, selecting the right bulbs is crucial for success. The quality of the bulbs you choose will directly impact the growth and blooming of your lilies. Here are some tips to help you choose the right lily bulbs for your garden.

Choosing the Right Lily Bulbs

When selecting lily bulbs, it’s important to consider the variety of colors and types available. Lilies come in a wide range of colors, including vibrant yellows, pinks, oranges, and purples. Some popular types of lilies include Asiatic lilies, Oriental lilies, and Trumpet lilies. Each type has its unique characteristics, such as different heights, bloom times, and fragrance levels. By choosing a variety of lilies, you can create a visually stunning and diverse garden.

Moreover, it is also essential to ensure that the bulbs you purchase are healthy and disease-free. Inspect the bulbs carefully before buying, looking for any signs of damage or decay. Healthy bulbs should be firm, plump, and free from blemishes. Avoid bulbs that are soft, moldy, or have visible signs of disease or pest infestation.

Preparing the Soil

Before planting your lily bulbs, it’s crucial to prepare the soil properly. Lilies thrive in well-draining soil that is rich in organic matter. Start by loosening the soil in the planting area to a depth of about 12 inches (30 cm). This will help the roots penetrate easily and allow for proper water drainage.

To improve the soil’s fertility and drainage, you can incorporate organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. These amendments not only provide essential nutrients for the lilies but also help retain moisture without causing waterlogging.

Planting Depth and Spacing

When it comes to planting lily bulbs, the depth and spacing play a crucial role in their growth. As a general rule, lily bulbs should be planted at a depth that is about three times their height. This means that larger bulbs will need to be planted deeper than smaller bulbs. However, it’s essential not to plant them too deep, as this can inhibit their growth and flowering.

As for spacing, it’s best to leave about 8 to 12 inches (20 to 30 cm) between each bulb to allow for proper air circulation and growth. This spacing also ensures that the lilies have enough room to spread and reach their full potential.

By carefully selecting and preparing your lily bulbs, you are setting the stage for a successful and vibrant garden. Remember to choose bulbs that are healthy and disease-free, prepare the soil with organic matter, and plant them at the appropriate depth and spacing. These steps will give your lilies the best start and set them up for a stunning display of color and fragrance in your garden.

Providing the Ideal Growing Conditions

When it comes to growing lilies from bulbs, providing the ideal growing conditions is essential for their success and vitality. Lilies are vibrant and graceful plants that thrive in specific environmental conditions. By understanding their sunlight requirements, watering needs, and soil fertility and pH levels, you can cultivate a flourishing garden filled with these stunning flowers.

Sunlight Requirements

Lilies are sun-loving plants that require abundant sunlight to flourish. They thrive in full sun or partial shade, making them versatile additions to any garden. It is recommended to provide them with at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight each day. Adequate sunlight not only promotes healthy growth but also enhances the vibrancy of the lily blooms. So, be sure to choose a location in your garden that receives ample sunlight for your lilies to thrive.

Watering Needs

When it comes to watering lilies, finding the right balance is crucial. Lilies prefer moist but well-draining soil, as excessive water can lead to root rot and other fungal diseases. Water your lilies deeply once a week, providing enough water to reach the roots. It is important to note that lilies are relatively drought-tolerant, so avoid overwatering them. Allow the soil to dry out slightly between waterings, ensuring that it is not saturated. By maintaining proper watering practices, you can ensure the health and longevity of your lilies.

Soil Fertility and pH Levels

Lilies thrive in rich, well-draining soil that is fertile and has a slightly acidic to neutral pH range. A pH level between 6.0 and 7.0 is ideal for lilies. To provide your lilies with the optimal growing conditions, amend the soil with organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, to enhance its fertility and drainage. This will provide the necessary nutrients for the lilies to grow and bloom abundantly. Additionally, it is important to ensure that the soil has good drainage to prevent waterlogging, which can lead to root rot.

To determine the pH level of your soil, you can use a soil testing kit available at garden centers or consult a professional for assistance. If your soil’s pH is too acidic or alkaline, you can adjust it by adding amendments such as lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it. By maintaining the ideal soil fertility and pH levels, you can create a nurturing environment for your lilies to thrive and showcase their beauty.

Remember, providing the ideal growing conditions for your lilies is essential to their overall health and performance. By understanding their sunlight requirements, watering needs, and soil fertility and pH levels, you can ensure that your lilies receive the care they need to flourish. So, get ready to bask in the beauty of your lilies as they bloom and bring joy to your garden.

Caring for Your Lily Plants

Once you have successfully planted your lily bulbs and they have started to grow, it’s important to provide proper care to ensure their health and vitality. Caring for your lily plants involves a few key tasks, including mulching, fertilizing, pruning and deadheading, and dealing with pests and diseases.


Mulching is an essential step in maintaining the health of your lily plants. By applying a layer of organic mulch around the base of the plants, you can help retain moisture in the soil, suppress weeds, and regulate soil temperature. Organic mulch, such as shredded leaves or compost, also adds valuable nutrients to the soil as it breaks down. Be sure to apply a layer of mulch that is about 2-3 inches thick, taking care to keep it a few inches away from the stems of the lilies to prevent rot.


To keep your lily plants thriving and blooming abundantly, regular fertilization is crucial. Fertilizing provides the necessary nutrients that the plants need to grow strong and produce vibrant flowers. When it comes to lilies, it is recommended to use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer that is specifically formulated for flowering plants. This type of fertilizer will provide a steady supply of nutrients over time, ensuring consistent growth and blooming. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for the proper application rate and frequency, and be sure to water the plants after fertilizing to help the nutrients penetrate the soil.

Pruning and Deadheading

Pruning and deadheading are important tasks for maintaining the appearance and health of your lily plants. Pruning involves removing any dead or damaged leaves or stems from the plants. This not only improves the overall aesthetics of the plants but also helps prevent the spread of diseases. Use clean, sharp pruning shears to make clean cuts, ensuring that you don’t damage the healthy parts of the plants.

Deadheading, on the other hand, refers to the removal of spent flowers. This encourages the plants to focus their energy on producing new blooms rather than producing seeds. To deadhead your lilies, simply snip off the faded flowers just above a set of healthy leaves or buds. This will promote continuous blooming throughout the growing season.

Dealing with Pests and Diseases

Like any other plants, lilies can be susceptible to pests and diseases. Common pests that may attack lilies include aphids, thrips, and lily beetles. To prevent and control pest infestations, regularly inspect your plants for any signs of damage or pests. If you notice any pests, you can try using organic insecticidal soap or neem oil to control them. These natural remedies are safe for the environment and won’t harm beneficial insects.

In terms of diseases, lilies can be affected by botrytis blight, leaf spot, and viral infections. To minimize the risk of diseases, it’s important to provide good air circulation around the plants and avoid overhead watering, as moisture can promote the growth of fungal infections. If you notice any signs of disease, promptly remove and dispose of the affected parts of the plants to prevent further spread.

By taking the time to care for your lily plants through mulching, fertilizing, pruning and deadheading, and dealing with pests and diseases, you can ensure that your lilies will thrive and reward you with their stunning blooms. With proper care, your lilies will become the showstoppers of your garden, adding beauty and elegance to your outdoor space.

Harvesting and Storing Lily Bulbs

Once your lilies have bloomed and brought joy to your garden, it’s time to think about harvesting and storing the bulbs for future seasons. Properly harvesting and storing lily bulbs is crucial to ensure their health and vitality, allowing you to enjoy these beautiful flowers year after year. In this section, we will explore when to harvest your lily bulbs and the best practices for bulb storage.

When to Harvest

Timing is key when it comes to harvesting lily bulbs. Ideally, you should wait until the foliage has turned yellow and started to die back before digging up the bulbs. This usually occurs in late summer or early fall, depending on your climate and the specific lily variety. By waiting for the right moment, you allow the bulbs to absorb important nutrients from the dying foliage, which will enable them to produce strong and healthy blooms in the next growing season.

To determine if your lilies are ready for harvest, gently pull back the soil around the base of the plants and examine the bulbs. Look for bulbs that are plump and firm, indicating that they have stored enough energy for future growth. If the bulbs are still small and soft, it’s best to leave them in the ground for a little longer to allow them to mature.

Proper Bulb Storage

Once you have harvested your lily bulbs, it’s important to store them correctly to maintain their quality and viability. Here are some essential tips for proper bulb storage:

  1. Clean and inspect: Before storing the bulbs, gently remove any excess soil clinging to them. Inspect each bulb carefully, discarding any that show signs of rot or damage. It’s crucial to store only healthy, disease-free bulbs to ensure successful growth in the future.

  2. Drying: After cleaning, allow the bulbs to dry in a cool, well-ventilated area for a few days. This drying period helps prevent fungal infections and ensures that the bulbs will not rot during storage.

  3. Storage containers: Choose suitable storage containers for your lily bulbs. You can use paper bags, mesh bags, or even wooden crates. The important thing is to allow for good air circulation. Avoid using plastic bags or airtight containers, as they can trap moisture and promote mold growth.

  4. Cool and dry location: Find a cool and dry location for storing your bulbs. A basement, cellar, or garage with consistent temperatures between 40°F and 50°F (4°C and 10°C) is ideal. Avoid areas that are prone to extreme temperature fluctuations or excessive moisture, as these conditions can damage the bulbs.

  5. Labeling: To avoid any confusion, it’s a good idea to label your stored bulbs. Write down the variety and the date of harvest on each container. This simple step will help you keep track of your bulb collection and know which ones to plant when the next growing season arrives.

  6. Periodic checking: While in storage, periodically check your bulbs for any signs of rot or disease. Remove any affected bulbs immediately to prevent the spread of infection to the rest of your collection.

By following these practices, you can ensure that your lily bulbs remain in optimal condition during their dormancy period. When the time comes to plant them again, you’ll have healthy and vibrant bulbs ready to bring beauty and fragrance back to your garden.

Now that you know how to harvest and store your lily bulbs, let’s move on to the next section and explore some common issues that gardeners may encounter when growing lilies.

Click here to move on to the section on Troubleshooting Common Issues.

Troubleshooting Common Issues

Even the most experienced gardeners encounter problems with their plants from time to time. When it comes to growing lilies from bulbs, there are a few common issues that you may come across. But fear not! With a little knowledge and some proactive measures, you can easily troubleshoot and overcome these challenges.

Yellowing Leaves

One of the most common problems you may face when growing lilies from bulbs is the appearance of yellowing leaves. This can be caused by a variety of factors, such as inadequate sunlight, overwatering, or nutrient deficiencies. To resolve this issue, it is important to identify the underlying cause.

Firstly, check the amount of sunlight your lilies are receiving. Lilies require at least six hours of direct sunlight each day to thrive. If your plants are not getting enough sunlight, consider moving them to a sunnier spot in your garden.

Overwatering can also lead to the yellowing of leaves. Lilies prefer well-draining soil, so make sure that you are not watering them too frequently. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out before watering again. Additionally, be mindful of the amount of water you give your lilies. They require moist soil but not soggy conditions.

Nutrient deficiencies can also cause yellowing leaves. Check the pH level of your soil to ensure it is within the ideal range for lilies, which is slightly acidic to neutral. If the pH is too high or too low, consider amending the soil with organic matter or using a pH-balancing fertilizer.

Lack of Blooms

Another issue you may encounter when growing lilies from bulbs is a lack of blooms. This can be disappointing, especially if you were eagerly anticipating a colorful display. However, there are a few factors that may be contributing to this problem.

Firstly, consider the age of your bulbs. Lilies typically take a year or two to establish themselves before producing abundant blooms. If you recently planted your bulbs, it may just be a matter of patience.

Another factor to consider is the planting depth. Lilies should be planted at a depth of about three times the height of the bulb. If they are planted too shallow or too deep, it can affect their ability to bloom. Ensure that you have followed the recommended planting depth for your lily bulbs.

Lastly, check the nutrient levels in your soil. Lilies are heavy feeders and require a nutrient-rich environment to produce blooms. If your soil is lacking essential nutrients, consider fertilizing your lilies with a balanced organic fertilizer. Follow the recommended dosage to avoid overfertilization, which can also inhibit blooming.

Pests and Diseases

Like any other plant, lilies are susceptible to pests and diseases. The most common pests that can affect lilies include aphids, lily beetles, and slugs. These pests can cause damage to the leaves, flowers, and bulbs of your lilies. Additionally, diseases such as botrytis blight and lily mosaic virus can also impact the health and appearance of your plants.

To tackle these issues, regularly inspect your lilies for any signs of pests or diseases. If you spot any, take immediate action to prevent further damage. You can use organic pest control methods such as handpicking or spraying with organic insecticides. For diseases, remove any infected plant parts and ensure proper sanitation practices.

Prevention is key when it comes to pests and diseases. Keep your garden clean and tidy, remove any dead or decaying plant material, and practice good hygiene to minimize the risk of infestations and infections. Additionally, consider companion planting with pest-repellent flowers or herbs to deter pests naturally.

By being proactive in identifying and addressing these common issues, you can ensure that your lilies thrive and reward you with beautiful blooms. Remember to stay vigilant, provide the necessary care and attention, and your lilies will flourish in your garden.

Now that you have learned how to troubleshoot common issues when growing lilies from bulbs, it’s time to move on to the final section of our beginner’s guide: Harvesting and Storing Lily Bulbs. Stay tuned for useful tips on when and how to harvest your lilies and store their bulbs for future seasons.


In conclusion, growing lilies from bulbs is a rewarding experience for new gardeners. The vibrant colors and various types of lilies add beauty and elegance to any garden. With their easy-to-grow nature and cost-effectiveness, lilies are the perfect choice for beginners looking to enhance their gardening skills.

To start growing lilies from bulbs, it is important to select the right bulbs and prepare the soil properly. By choosing healthy bulbs and providing them with well-draining soil, gardeners can ensure the successful growth of their lilies. Remember to plant the bulbs at the correct depth and provide adequate spacing to allow for optimal growth and development.

Creating the ideal growing conditions for lilies is essential for their overall health and beauty. Lilies thrive in full sunlight, so make sure to plant them in an area that receives at least six hours of direct sunlight per day. Additionally, lilies require regular watering to keep the soil moist but not waterlogged. Maintaining proper soil fertility and pH levels will further promote healthy growth and vibrant blooms.

Caring for your lily plants involves mulching to conserve moisture and suppress weed growth, as well as fertilizing to provide essential nutrients for robust growth. Pruning and deadheading are important tasks to remove spent flowers and promote continuous blooming. While lilies are generally resistant to pests and diseases, it is important to be vigilant and take appropriate measures if any issues arise.

When it comes time to harvest your lilies, wait until the blooms have faded and the foliage begins to turn yellow. Gently lift the bulbs from the ground and store them in a cool, dry place for the next planting season. Proper bulb storage will ensure their viability and allow you to enjoy beautiful lilies year after year.

In the event of common issues such as yellowing leaves, lack of blooms, or pest and disease problems, there are solutions to address these challenges. By identifying the cause and taking appropriate action, gardeners can successfully overcome these obstacles and continue to enjoy the beauty of their lilies.

Overall, growing lilies from bulbs is a delightful journey that allows new gardeners to explore the world of flowers and unleash their creativity. With the right knowledge and techniques, anyone can cultivate stunning lilies that will bring joy and beauty to their outdoor space. So, roll up your sleeves, grab your gardening tools, and embark on this wonderful adventure of growing lilies from bulbs. Happy gardening!

For more information on growing flowers from bulbs, check out our comprehensive guide on how to grow bulbs.

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