Lily Growing Guide


Crop Rotation Group



Rich, slightly acidic soil with excellent drainage.


Full morning sun with partial afternoon shade.

Frost tolerant

Cold hardiness varies with type. Asiatic hybrids tolerate temperatures to -37C (-35F), but taller Oriental lilies and hybrids are hardy to -32C (-25F). With excellent drainage, lilies can be grown in areas with quite harsh winters.


Topdress with rich compost in late spring, after new growth appears. Fertilise with a liquid fertiliser in early summer, when plants are growing rapidly. When grown in good soil, lilies do not require much fertiliser.


Tall Oriental lilies make regal plants for the back of a mixed border. Smaller Asiatic lilies grow to only 90cm (36in) tall and work well as feature plants that bloom in early summer. Use small mound-forming annuals like lobelia, portulaca, or sweet alyssum to hide the bare bases of lilies.


Single Plants: 30cm (11") each way (minimum)
Rows: 20cm (7") with 35cm (1' 1") row gap (minimum)

Sow and Plant

Prepare wide planting holes dug to at least 30cm (12in) deep, and generously enrich the holes with rich compost and a balanced organic fertiliser. Plant lily bulbs deep, so that the tops of the bulbs are covered with 12cm (15in) of soil. When planting container-grown lilies, set them in prepared holes about 5cm (2in) deeper than they grew in their pots. Allow 30cm (12in) between Asiatic lilies but space tall Oriental lilies 20cm (8in) apart.
Our Garden Planner can produce a personalised calendar of when to sow, plant and harvest for your area.


Lilies bloom all at once, and because of their large blossoms they are often used as feature flowers. Tall Oriental hybrids are fragrant, and make long-lived cut flowers. Colours include white, red, orange, and many shades of pink and red.


Cut lilies for arrangements when the buds are on the verge of opening, preferably in early morning. Immediately plunge the stems into cool water. As the flowers fade in the garden, snip them off with scissors or secateurs.


Invasive lily leaf beetles chew holes in lily leaves. They drop to the ground when disturbed, and can be collected by shaking them into broad pans of soapy water, or tarps spread over the ground. Use a spinosad-based biological insecticide to bring lily leaf beetle larvae under control. Lilies are best recommended as annuals in areas like the tropics and subtropics.

Planting and Harvesting Calendar

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Pests which Affect Lily