Growing Oriental Lily Bulbs


oriental lily star gazer flower

Picture of Oriental Lily Star Gazer taken in my garden, summer of 2013

I love to grow Oriental Lilies, so thinking ahead I order more Oriental Lily bulbs for my garden from John Scheepers Inc. a few weeks ago. I have purchased bulbs from many different sources, including the big box stores but I have found that the quality and size of bulbs are better from John Scheepers.

bags of oriental lily bulbs

I received my order of oriental lily bulbs on Friday, packaged by variety. This order included three variety, Star Gazer, Lizzy Dizzy and Muscadet. I’ve now decided that I am going to place another order later today.

Now thru spring is the best time to plant lily bulbs, that is if your ground is thawed enough to dig. I planned to order more bulbs so back in October I had prepared a new garden bed for these bulbs.

oriental lily bulbs

Oriental Lilies produce enormous beautiful flowers on tall stems in a variety of colors and are easy to grow in zone 5 to 8. These oddly, scaly, bearded bulbs will produce a fancy trumpet shaped flower that is extremely fragrant, their fragrance is fabulous. There are other varieties of lilies like the Easter lily, Tiger lily, Asiatic lily, etc. but the Oriental Lily is the only one that is fragrant.

Before planting your lilies, pick an area with filter sunshine, avoid an area that is windy and receives the hot afternoon sun. The most important factor when preparing your soil for Oriental Lilies is drainage. Lilies need drainage and cannot be sitting in stagnant water especially during winter. Clay soil is rich in nutrients but lilies will not grow well in clay soil. Oriental lilies prefer a rich, moist and well-drained soil. I improve my soil by adding organic peak, leaf mold and composted manure. I also add crushed oyster shells, like you would give your chickens to eat and work all of this into the planting area about a foot deep. After you have the planting area ready, plant bulbs 6 to 8 inch deep. I plant the same variety in groups of three or five for more of an impact when they bloom.

oriental lily bulb

Blooming in my area starts in July and continues thru August, I have even had some blooms into September depending on our summer heat. Oriental lilies will often need a little extra support because they tend to get top-heavy when in bloom. Summer rainstorms and wind can also toss them around. Many variety can reach 5 to 5 feet tall.

As blooming begins, take care not to get their pollen stains on your cloths. See the picture above of the stamens full of pollen. When I cut my lilies for arrangements I always cut the flowers early in the morning when it is cool just as the flower buds are opening. This is also the best time to cut the stamens before the pollen matures.

If you have flowers you leave in the garden, be sure to gently remove the blossoms as they fade to encourage blooming and to keep plants from using all their energy producing seeds. In the fall, once the leaves and stems turn yellow; cut the plant back to the ground. Do not pull the stems as this will cause damage to the bulb.

I  love Oriental lilies for their beautiful flowers and their fragrance is fabulous. They make great flower arrangements too! This summer I will be posting flower pictures from these bulbs. 🙂

other post on my Oriental Lilies

My Work


23 thoughts on “Growing Oriental Lily Bulbs

  1. Oooo, I can smell them now. I’ve not had much luck with lilies. All the ones I’ve ever planted have, oddly, been eaten from the bottom up by moles. My purple cone flowers and lilies all strangely disappear. One day the plants are tall, in full bloom. The next day, the plant is oddly shorter. The following day, the entire plant is gone—nothing but a spot in the ground where they once were.
    This has happened in the two separate places we’ve lived—the first time, years ago, I was so proud of a new garden area I had cleared and planted. This time is was purple cone flowers—all disappeared. Here, years later at this house, it’s been both cone flowers and lilies—blasted moles—-
    Enjoy Michael—does my winter weary eyes good seeing such!!

  2. With having heavy clay here, I plant mine in pots and then drop them in place in the spring so that they miss the worst of the winter weather, we always have so much rain. They usually take the place of tulips when they have finished flowering, so the colour continues.

    • We also have heavy clay but when I make my garden beds for the lilies I get rid of nearly all the clay. Tulips don’t grow very well here for some reason. I have a few I plant in pots as well so that I can have them on my deck. 🙂

  3. I planted some for the first time last year and they were gorgeous and so fragrant. I had put them in a really large, deep pot and do hope they come back this year. Can’t wait to see pictures of yours when they bloom. Blessings, Natalie 🙂

  4. Good morning Micheal!
    I have a few Oriental lillies in my garden, but most of them are in my greenhouse, because I could’nt find a spot where they wouldn’t get full sun. They do make fabulous floral arrangements and as you say their perfume is lovely.

  5. So are these bulbs you have to plant every year.. or are they a perennial? They absolutely stunning, I can just imagine the fragrance in a garden filled with these.. and a bouquet in the kitchen would be heaven! I don’t think our climate is very good for this sort of plant? It may be too cold and too short of a growing season here. I will admire vicariously through your blog:)

  6. hank you for your kind visit, Michael. Did you unfortunately lost sight of.

    Wow, what a color. A blessing in this cold season, these flowers.

    All the best yet for the new year and best wishes

  7. Such a beautiful lily! I have some in my garden too 🙂 I also used to plant tulips and narcisses, but now I stopped planting them since the deers allways manage to eat them 😀

    • That picture was taken back in the summer and it is beautiful! I used to plant the tulips and narcisses too but I had the same problem, either the raccoons dug them up and ate the bulb or the deer ate them when the started coming out of the ground. The wildlife don’t seem to bother the Oriental Lilies! 🙂

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