Asiatic lilies are easy to care for and thrive in a variety of climate zones. They do need a period of cooler temperatures to overwinter, so they aren’t the best choice for locations that are warm year-round. For the healthiest outdoor garden, choose a planting area with well-drained soil that receives lots of sunlight. Plant your bulbs in the fall to keep your lilies on their normal bloom cycle. You can also grow Asiatic lilies in containers any time between early spring and late fall. Just make sure the pot you use is deep enough to encourage a strong root system.
EditPlanting in a Garden
- Choose plants hardy for your zone. Asiatic lilies are generally hardy plants, but need a cool period for overwintering. For this reason, they’re not the best choice for outdoor gardens in regions that don’t experience cooler winter temperatures.
- Your local home improvement store or nursery will likely carry plants appropriate for your area. Check with staff for help choosing plants that will thrive in your climate.
- You can also look for a local public garden or arboretum. Their plants will most likely be labeled, which will help you choose varieties for your own garden.
- Choose a well-drained planting area that gets six hours of sunlight. Your planting area should have enough drainage that water doesn’t pool after heavy rain. It should receive at least six hours of full sunlight, preferably in the early morning or late afternoon.
- Lilies can tolerate less than six hours of sun, but less light exposure will result in spindly plants that produce fewer blooms and lean toward the sun.
- Plant bulbs in the fall and avoid storing them. Planting in the fall will keep plants in a normal blooming cycle. Plant bulbs as soon as you bring them home. Asiatic lily bulbs will dry out quickly, since they lack a paper-like covering called a tunic.
- You can plant bulbs in the early spring, and they’ll likely flower later in the year then readjust to their normal bloom cycle the following year.
- Add well-draining organic matter to the soil. Remove rocks and other debris from the soil, and loosen it with a garden tiller if it’s tightly compacted. Use the tiller to incorporate a layer of organic matter, such as peat moss, at least six inches (15 cm) deep into the soil. This will help ensure your soil can provide enough drainage for your lilies.
- Plant lilies in well-spaced groups of three to five bulbs. Plant a group of three to five similarly-sized bulbs about six inches (15 cm) deep, measuring from the top of the bulbs. Space the bulbs about eight inches (20 cm) apart. Be sure to plant bulbs with their tops facing up.
- You can tell a bulb’s top from its bottom by looking for the pointed tip at the top and the hair-like roots at the bottom.
- Repeat planting groups of bulbs until you’ve planted all of your bulbs. Space each group about three feet (about a meter) apart.
- Cover with mulch to insulate the bulbs. If you’re planting in the fall, cover your planting area loosely with four to six inches (10 to 15 cm) of mulch before the first frost. A layer of winter mulch will help delay the soil from freezing, giving the bulbs a little extra time to establish their roots. It will also help minimize temperature fluctuations, which will make the shoots stronger come springtime.
EditGrowing in Containers
- Choose a deep container for healthy plants. A deep pot is essential for growing healthy Asiatic lilies in a container. Go for a container with a diameter of at least nine inches (23 cm) and a depth of eight inches (20 cm) or more.
- A pot at this minimum size can accommodate one large bulb with a diameter of four to five inches (10 to 12 cm) or three to four smaller bulbs with diameters less than three inches (eight cm).
- Place a layer of drainage material at the bottom of the container. Before filling the pot with soil, you’ll need to add a layer of drainage material. Spread two inches (five cm) of small rocks, gravel, or another suitably loose material at the base of the pot.
- If you’ve recently broken a pot, you can use its pieces for part of your drainage layer.
- Fill the container with well-draining potting soil. Asiatic lilies aren’t terribly fussy about their soil, but it does need to drain well. For best results, look for a potting soil labeled for lilies at your local garden center or nursery. If you have soil on hand that feels too moist and dense, mix four parts of it with one part peat moss or horticultural grit.
- Plant a group of bulbs at least as deep as their height. Roughly measure or estimate the height of the bulb or bulbs you’re planting. Dig a hole at least twice as deep as bulbs’ approximate height. That way, you’ll be able to cover each bulb with a soil depth equal to its height, measuring from the top.
- If you’re planting more than one bulb, space them about two inches (five cm) apart.
- Place your container in a well-lit area. If you’re keeping your container indoors, choose a spot less than three feet away from a window. It should receive six to eight hours of direct sunlight.
- If you’re keeping your container outdoors, choose a well-lit area that won’t get drenched in rain. Go for a covered area or a spot in a wall’s rain shadow.
- Transfer potted lilies to the garden or a cool area for overwintering. Potted lilies shouldn’t be kept in warm indoor environments all year long. You can keep indoor plants in their pots until the late fall, then plant them in your outdoor garden.
- If your location doesn’t experience cool winters, consider overwintering Asiatic lilies in a cooler set to a temperature of about 40 degrees Fahrenheit (4.4 degrees Celsius).
EditCaring for Asiatic Lilies
- Fertilize your lilies when shoots and buds appear. Lilies planted outdoors will start to send shoots in the early spring. When the last threat of frost has passed, remove the layer of winter mulch. Spread a loose two inch (five cm) layer of high phosphorous, slow-release fertilizer at the first sight of shoots.
- Fertilize the plants once more when they start to produce buds.
- Water your plants once per week. Water indoor containers and outdoor gardens about once per week. The soil should dry slightly, but you should avoid letting it dry out completely. Avoid completely soaking the soil or letting water pool.
- Water the plants close to the soil to avoid getting leaves wet. Keeping the leaves from getting wet will help you prevent disease.
- Remove flowers when they start to fade and drop. Deadhead fading flowers by gently breaking them off or clipping them. Take care to only remove spent flowers, leaving stems and foliage intact.
- Deadheading your plants will keep them from wasting energy on producing seeds.
- Cut the stems and foliage when they’re no longer green. After your plants bloom, keep their stems and foliage intact as long as they remain green. When they turn yellow or brown, cut the stems back so the plant can overwinter.
- Leaving green foliage intact as long as possible is vital, as it will keep producing energy that will help it overwinter.
EditThings You’ll Need
- Asiatic lily bulbs
- Garden trowel
- Peat moss
- High-phosphorous, slow-release fertilizer
- Deep potting container
- Potting soil
- Pebbles or gravel
- Watering can or garden hose