How to grow lilies

The lily is known for its fabulous-looking, scented flowers, which are so often used as cut flowers. Many people think they are hard to grow, but you can grow you own without too much work, and they will flower for you year after year.

What you need to know about a lily

Name: lily, Oriental lily, Asiatic lily, Christmas lily, tiger lily Lilium species and varieties.

Height: around 1–1.5m, depending on variety

Foliage: deciduous.

Climate: cold temperate, warm temperate, arid/semi-arid and sub-tropical. Frost tolerant.

Soil: prefers deep, well-drained soil that doesn’t dry out.

Position: full sun to light shade.

Flowering: showy, perfumed flowers that are often highly scented, in late spring and summer.

Feeding: regular feeding with a balanced, controlled-release fertiliser.

Watering: regular watering to keep the soil damp.

lillies

Appearance and characteristics of a lily

The true varieties of lily are those of the Lilium genus, and all grow from bulbs formed underground. Depending on the variety, your lily will flower in late spring or summer. The flowers appear at the top of an erect stalk that has well-spaced green lance-shaped leaves.

The plants die down in autumn to go through a short dormant phase before growing again in later winter.

Lily flowers are trumpet shaped, and in some varieties the petals curve right back on themselves. Flower colours vary from white, pink and orange and often feature stripes, dots and other patterns on the petals.

There are many plants that carry the common name of “lily” but are not true liliums as described above. These include: Peruvian lily (Alstroemeria), peace lily (Spathiphyllum), calla lily (Zantedeschia), day lily (Hemerocallis) and canna lily (Canna). 

Uses for a lily

Lily is probably best recognised as a cut flower. However, it can be grown in a garden bed to add height and perfume to a mixed garden.

It can also be grown in pots and containers. These can be used to decorate outdoor entertaining areas and then, when the lily is looking a bit ratty after flowering, you can shift it to an out-of-the-way spot in the garden for when it dies down.

How to plant and grow lilies

Grow your lily from a bulb that is planted in autumn. Choose a sunny spot, or one that is lightly shaded. Ideally, the ground should be covered in mulch or a ground cover to keep the root run cool. The soil should be improved with some compost. Feed regularly and consider lifting the dormant bulbs every few years so you can rejuvenate the soil.

If growing your lily in a container, make sure to use a good-quality potting mix with a wetting agent and complete fertiliser mixed in. You need to re-pot your lily into fresh potting mix about every two years, to keep the bulbs strong and producing flowers. Do this in autumn.

A lily likes a consistent supply of water, so keep the soil damp and don’t let it dry out for too many days between waterings.

Caring for a lily

It is best to stake a lily, as it can get top heavy and you wouldn’t want the stem to snap. Make sure you put the stake a little way back from the plant to ensure so you don’t put it through the bulb. Tie the growing stem to the stake loosely with a soft tie string that won’t cut into the stem.

Pruning lilies

A lily won’t need special pruning. What you can do is remove old flowers when they have finished so the energy goes into the emerging flowers, rather than into forming seed pods.

Diseases and pests

Aphids can occasionally be a problem on the soft new growth of lilies. Watch out for these and control as soon as they occur. 

How to grow lilies from cuttings

Some varieties of lily form very small bulbs at the spot where the leaf meets the stem. In autumn, take these off and pot them up. They may take two or three years to grow to flowering size.

Baby plants can be formed by breaking away three or four of the scales off the main bulb – a bit like taking garlic off the main bulb. Do this in autumn, and pot the individual scales into pots.

If you like this then try

Lisianthus: a great plant to grow for its flowers, which are one of the longest-lasting in a vase.

Gerbera: showy large daisy flowers, perfect for the garden or for picking for indoors.

Alstroemeria: showy lily-like flowers that are long-lasting.

Gladioli: sword-like foliage and a stem of bright flowers in summer for the garden or a vase.

Start planting today

Check out our huge range of plants now and get your garden growing!

How to build a garden bed 05:37

Planting & Growing How to build a garden bed Transform your outdoor area by learning how to build a garden bed. It’s easy to do, just follow our step-by-step guide.

variety of indoor plants

Planting & Growing Discover 12 plants that are the best for indoors Striking foliage and stunning colour isn’t just reserved for the garden. There’s a wide variety of indoor plants you can use to bring colour and life to your home explains Bunnings Greenlife buyer Katrina Gatt.

Person planting spinach 03:11

Planting & Growing How to grow vegetables Watch our step-by-step guide and find out everything you need to know about how to grow fresh vegetables in your garden.

Person trimming the hedge with battery shears 01:28

Planting & Growing How to trim hedges Hedges are an excellent way to add shape to your garden. Here are a couple of tips to effectively trim and maintain a hedge.

Person putting on protective edging on the raised garden bed 01:38

Planting & Growing How to build a raised garden bed Building a raised garden bed is a simple project you can do yourself. Learn how to build a raised garden bed with this guide from Bunnings Warehouse.

Person adding compost and manure to the soil 02:01

Planting & Growing How to improve sandy soil Good soil is the foundation for any healthy garden. We can show you how to improve sandy soil to retain more nutrients and water.

succulents 02:01

Planting & Growing How to plant and care for succulents Succulents come in a huge range of colours, shapes and sizes, will grow just about anywhere and don’t need much looking after, making them a plant that’s perfect for even the most novice gardener. If you’re new to succulents, here are some tips from...

Person cutting the corrugated edging 03:08

Planting & Growing How to install garden edging Garden edging can help to make your garden beds look neat and tidy. We’ll show you how to install plastic or corrugated garden edging around your garden.

hydrangea

Planting & Growing How to create an allergy-friendly garden If you suffer from hay fever or other allergies, then being out in the garden can, at times, be less than enjoyable. But there are some steps you can take to create an allergy-friendly garden so you can spend more time gardening and less time sneezi...

pot

Planters How to choose the right plant pot Pots are a great way to add colour, interest or texture to your outdoor space. Tuscan Path’s Elaine Foster shares her top tips on how to choose the perfect pot.

sunflower

Planting & Growing How to plant and care for sunflowers Sunflowers are a great way to add colour to your garden, and they’re easy to grow and care for. Bunnings Greenlife buyer Katie explains the basics of how to grow sunflowers and shares some tips on how to care for them.

paint

Guides & Projects How to upcycle almost any piece of furniture with paint Rather than throwing out old household items, you can restore them with paint. It’s a quick, easy and affordable way to give anything from furniture to fences a new lease on life. Learn how to paint and prepare different surfaces to get the finish y...

DIY balcony and courtyard garden

Planters D.I.Y. balcony and courtyard garden Even if your outdoor space is limited to a balcony or courtyard, it doesn’t mean you have to miss out on having a garden. The team at Tuscan Path, who have been supplying pots to the Australian marketplace for over 40 years, share some ideas on how ...

 kitchen benchtop materials

Benchtops & Cabinets A guide to kitchen benchtop materials The perfect benchtop will add style to any kitchen. It’ll also see the most action, so choosing the right benchtop for your kitchen – and budget – is an important decision explains Bunnings Kitchen Designer Ben Carey.

Top of the content