When to Plant Lilies

When to Plant Lily (lilium) Bulbs

True lilies are the most elegant, showy blooms of all the garden plants and are enhanced by their bright or delicate colours and some by their heavy fragrance. They are truly an amazing plant and I often wonder how such a large bloom comes from such a small bulb.  Lilies are planted as a bulb and sometimes need special care and early attention if you wish to have blooms in the correct season. The best time to plant lilies will depend largely on the type of lily.
There are approximately 110 distinct wild species of lilium and with well over 9,000 hybrids, there is probably a Lilium for everyone. To impose some order on this huge number of different plants, listed below are the most common lilies and when to plant them by hardiness zone. 


Oriental Lilies

Oriental lilies (best grown in zones 4-8) are known for their big sized blooms, pleasant fragrance and great adaptability. They are available in shades of white, pink, crimson red and salmon. You can grow them in partially shaded condition and fertile soil with slightly acidic soils. Regarding Oriental Lily care, provide them with ample amounts of water being careful not to let them dry out and consider mulching for moisture conservation.

Trumpet Lilies

As the name goes, the shape of trumpet lilies (best grown in zones 5-9) is similar to the trumpet, with a narrow tube and wide opening. The tepals are waxy in texture and flowers have a heavy fragrance. They are available in shades of white, yellow, golden, plum, pink and apricot. As trumpet lilies are tall, you need to stake or provide support to the stems.

Orienpet Lilies

Also referred to as OT or Orienpet Hybrids, these lilies are crossed between Oriental and Trumpet lilies and produce lily bulbs that easily weather late Midwestern frosts without bud kill, and still carry the sweet fragrance and shape of Oriental lilies. These improved hybrids have all been trialed under garden conditions, so now you can even have solid yellow "Orientals" for late summer, with increased drought-resistance and reliability.
New colors are being hybridized each year, so expect to see lots of new colors in the future.

Asiatic Lilies

The true Asiatic lilies (best grown in zones 4-9) are the easiest to grow and adapt to a wide range of soil types and growing conditions.  You can find Asiatic hybrid lilies in white, plum, yellow, orange, pink and red colors. What's more, they are resistant to garden pests and common plant diseases.

Tiger Lilies

In the types of lilies list, you will come across tiger lilies in the top (best grown in zones 3-9). The name is assigned with respect to distinctive back dots in the tepals. There are several types of tiger lilies, such as Henry's lily, American tiger lily, Columbia lily and alpine lily. They all have one thing in common, i.e. dark spots in the tepals. The true tiger lilies proliferate within a short time by means of stem bulbils.

Species Lilies

These types of lilies are hybrid cultivars, developed from wild lilies. A drawback of this cultivar group is difficulty in growing, as the varieties are very sensitive to change in growing conditions. Hence, if you are planning to grow species lilies in zones 4-9, make sure you go through the plant requirements and accordingly, make a correct decision.



All Types

Zone 1 to 3

Do not allow the bulb to stay frozen. Hard to grow unless in protected containers and indoors during winter.


Zone 4 to 6

Zone 7 to 11

Mid-September to October OR March to May Do not allow the bulb to stay frozen for extended periods of time. 

Mid-September  to May


Zone 1 to 3

Zone 4 to 6

Zone 7 to 11

Do not allow the bulb to stay frozen for extended periods.·Hard to grow unless in protected containers.

September to Mid-November OR April to May - Cover with Mulch

Mid-September to May

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