Lilies are vigorous, blooming flowers that are great as both garden plants and houseplants. Find out what to consider when planting and caring for lilies here!

Care for lilies: The best tips

Lilies enjoy worldwide popularity because of their impressive blooms and wide range of colors and can be found in our country mainly as cut flowers. There are about 125 species of the plant genus, which belongs to the lily family, and some species are among the oldest ornamental plants ever.

In addition, they look back on a long cultural history and are still a meaningful symbol today, for example in literature or religion. In Christianity, lilies symbolize hope, light and the bond with God in particular. In a purely cultural context, the classic white lily stands for beauty, purity, dignity and femininity. The red fire lily symbolizes love, but the yellow lily symbolizes vanity and the desire for recognition.

The lily is also used as a food and medicinal plant. Apart from the stem, all parts of most lily species are edible – but be careful, always research in advance whether it is really a non-poisonous species. In Chinese cuisine, the bulbs are particularly popular, eaten either fresh or dried. In European cuisine, lilies are used less frequently and can be found mainly in fusion kitchens or fine dining restaurants.

  • Origin

From their evolutionary origins in the Himalayas, lilies are most common on the continents of the northern hemisphere. They prefer temperate or subtropical climates as well as areas with high precipitation and feel at home especially in China, but also in Japan, North America, the Caucasus or Europe. Even in Germany, you may come across a naturally growing lily. The native species is the Turk’s-collar lily, also called Lilium martagon, which grows in the southern Black Forest.

  • The optimal location

In the wild, lilies prefer herb-rich coniferous and deciduous forests on limestone and primary rock soils in a semi-shaded, cool location. In the mountains, it can thrive equally well above montane forest in meadows. In general, lilies prefer a sunny spot without direct sunlight, which is true for your houseplant as well as for lilies in the garden. If possible, the base of the flower should also be shaded.

  • How to prune lilies

Lilies are pruned back as soon as their dormancy ends, shoots die back, or they are to be used as cut flowers. Except for vase pruning, lilies should only be pruned after they have faded. For this, the stem is not cut off, but the withered flowers.

Planting lilies: This is how it works!

You want to enjoy your lilies for a long time and would like to grow them yourself instead of spending money on cut flowers? It’s quite simple! To do this, buy lily bulbs that are fresh and have well-developed, vital roots at the base of the bulb. The best time to plant lilies is in late summer or early fall. Make sure the soil is loose and well-drained, with a neutral to weak ph. A tip: If the soil is enriched with humus-rich (leaf) compost before planting, the conditions for growing and thriving are even better.

The bottom layer of soil should be coarse gravel, above which it is best to add a mixture of sand, compost and garden soil. The bulb should also be wrapped with sand. The depth when planting the bulb is based on its height, so this means planting it two to three times as deep as it is tall. Lilies, especially smaller varieties, are also easy to plant in containers that can either be placed directly indoors or brought inside for overwintering. Here we reveal how to determine the soil type in your garden to find the right soil for your plants. Looking for the perfect fertilizer? Natural fertilizer like eggshells, coffee grounds and the like will do your plants good. And here’s how you can create compost soil.

Watering lilies: How much water do they need?

The soil should always be moist, but not too wet. Both excessive and insufficient watering negatively affect plant development and can lead to withering or rotting. Make sure they drain well and water them as long as the soil feels dry. Especially in hot temperatures, regular monitoring is in order and possibly watering several times a week.

Fertilize lilies: When, how often and with what?

Lilies are generally considered to be heavy feeders among bulbous flowers, which means that although they can still cope with the substrate in which they were planted for about two years after planting, the effect then decreases sharply. It is best to use fertilizers low in nitrogen, but especially organic, such as blue grain, horn shavings, compost. This is not only kinder to the environment, but also promotes soil life. Otherwise, rhododendron fertilizer is also suitable.

Before fertilizing, all withered flowers should be removed, so that the plant has enough energy. To promote growth, lilies in the garden are fertilized about once to three times a year. Plants cultivated in pots need more support and are therefore fertilized every two to four weeks.

How to overwinter lilies

For overwintering in the garden, it is important that it is a hardy lily variety. The best way to find out about this in advance is to ask the gardener, the hardware store or the garden center. As soon as the first frost has passed, cut off the withered leaves about a hand’s width above the ground and then cover everything with a protective layer of brushwood, straw or twigs on the bed. If it is not a hardy lily species, the flower is dug up before the first frost, planted in a pot or tub and stored in a dark, cool and frost-free place, which is also protected from rain.