Lily Stems and Leaves

Red Alert Asian Lily


When to cut lily stems and leaves – About Lily Flower Stems / Deadheading Lily Flowers Stems

Lilies are an extremely varied and popular group of plants.  Producing beautiful flowers.  Together, mostly very fragrant, too.  Additionally, flowers blooming spring to early Fall.  But what happens when its’ flowers fade? Should you cut lily flowers stems off or leave them where they are?  Furthermore, in this article, learn how to “deadhead” lily flower stems.  Also, where and when to cut lily stems and leaves. See how we cut lily stems, trim leaves, “deadhead” lily stems at our annual lily festival!.

Reasons for Deadheading Lily Flowers

Deadheading is removing the spent lily flowers from a plant. With some plants, deadheading actually encourages new flowers to bloom. Uniquely, this isn’t the case for lilies. Once a flower bud has finished blooming, it’s over. Cutting off the spent flowers will not produce any new buds. 

However, not all lily flower stems and leaves with buds open at the same time.  Therefore, cut only the spent flowers.  As a matter of fact, there are some buds on the lily flower stems that haven’t opened yet.

Equally, more important is how your lily plant expends its energy. If a lily flower is pollinated, it will shrivel.  And produce a seed pod. Therefore, it’s how lilies reproduce. All well and good, unless you plan on using the same bulb to grow more lilies next year.

Producing seed pods and flowers takes energy. On the other hand, the plant could be storing carbohydrates to the bulb.  Providing for next year’s growth. Deadheading lily flower stems channels all energy into the bulb.

Cogoleto Asian Lily Flower Stemss
Cogoleto Asian Lily with opened and unopened flower buds.
New Bulb-lets a Month After Dead heading stems.
New Bulb-lets in a Month After Dead heading Lily Stems


Deadheading lily flowers is a good idea.  As well as lily flower stems and leaves.  In the first place, it cleans up the appearance of the plant.  And garden.  Additionally, keep some of the leaves on through the summer.  This produces growth to the bulb.  Not the bloom, seed, or offspring.  Therefore, the lily bulbs will be stronger and larger the following spring.  Consequently, your garden will look much nicer without faded or spent flowers.


Once the flowers have faded, cut the bloom where it’s protruding from a leaf.  In addition, you can pinch and pull it off with your fingers.  Likewise, leave the leaves on the lily flower stems.  There should be two on each side.  Save the spent flower for making potpourri, dry it and save in a scrapbook.  Also, any other way you like.

Salmon Star Fragrant Oriental Lily Flower.
Location to Deadhead Fragrant Oriental Lily Flowers. Pictured: Salmon Star Fragrant Oriental Lily Flower.

Cutting Lily Flower Stems

For Bouquets

Cut flowers for bouquets when it’s cool.  Equally important, not in the heat of day.  Subsequently, they wilt.  When air is hot and dry, water is conserved in the bulb. Not the lily stems.  Uniquely, at night, moisture is “wicked” back into the lily flower stems and leaves.  Flowers, too.

Lily stems and leaves can get quite large.  Therefore, it is best to use lopers or garden shears.  Moreover, don’t cut more lily stems and leaves than what is needed for the depth of your vase.  Likewise do not remove more than 1/2 to 2/3 of the stems and leaves.  As a result, the remainder of lily stems will build, supply the bulb with needed nutrients.  And growth in the bulb for next year.

Once the lily flower stem has been cut, remove most of its’ leaves.  Before placing in the vase.  Coupled with a few remaining below the flowers, out of water.  Otherwise, leaves in the water will rot and smell.

End of Season

After all blooms have opened: lily stems and leaves have faded, it’s time to cut the stems.  In addition, you will see the lily stems start turning yellow.  Similarly, this is natural.  In the same fashion mentioned above (See “For Bouquets”), cut the stem.  Also, leave about four inches of the stem above ground.  Then, the stem will rot and new bub-lets will form on the stem.  And below ground on or near the live bulb.

Cutting Lily Stem
New Bulblets on Lily Stems
New Bulb-lets on Lily Stems and Below Soil Level
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