Do Lilies Come Back Every Year? — 5 Tips To Grow Better Lilies

by Jack Grover
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Ah, lilies! Those elegant, trumpet-shaped flowers have been drawing us in with their delicate beauty and enchanting scent for ages.

Today, like many times in the past, lilies grace our gardens and fill the air with their intoxicating fragrance. A symbol of love, purity, and devotion, it’s no wonder they’re a favorite among gardeners and flower enthusiasts alike.

But the question many green thumbs ponder is — do lilies come back every year? It’s a query that sparks curiosity and even a bit of concern for those who have dedicated time and effort to cultivating these beauties in their gardens.

In short, yes, lilies grow back after a year. Still, you must learn how to take care of these flowers if you want them to develop in their full bloom.

Below, we explore this subject in depth and share some valuable tips on how to grow better lilies. Let’s get started.

Are Lilies Perennial?

Lilies are classified as perennial plants, meaning they have the ability to live for several years and grow back each season.

The bulbs of most lily species go through a period of dormancy during winter, but when spring arrives, they awaken with renewed vigor and produce those beautiful blooms we all adore.

That being said, not all lily varieties exhibit the same level of hardiness.

Some types, like the Asiatic and Oriental hybrids, can withstand colder temperatures and reliably return each year. Others may struggle in harsher climates or require additional protection to survive winter’s chill.

How to Plant and Grow Lilies — 5 Tips

closeup photo of white 6-petaled flower

Ready to transform your garden into a floral paradise with the captivating beauty of lilies?

In this section, we share five essential tips on planting and growing lilies that will leave your outdoor space brimming with vibrant colors and heavenly scents.

Choosing Your Lilies Type

Before you embark on your lily-growing journey, you must know the different types of lilies available and select the ones best suited for your garden and personal preferences. Each variety has unique characteristics, from size and color to fragrance and hardiness.

With so many lily types to choose from, there’s surely one (or several) that will complement your garden and captivate your senses. Consider factors like fragrance, color preferences, and hardiness when selecting your lilies to ensure they flourish in your outdoor sanctuary.

Here’s a brief overview of some popular lily types to help you make an informed decision.

Asiatic Lilies

Known for their vibrant colors and sturdy nature, Asiatic lilies are an excellent choice for beginners or those seeking low-maintenance blooms. They have three to six flowers per stem and come in a wide array of hues, including red, orange, yellow, pink, and white. One thing to note — Asiatic lilies generally lack fragrance.

Oriental Lilies

These large, sumptuous blooms are famous for their intense fragrance and spectacular show of colors. Reaching heights of up to five feet, Oriental lilies flourish in shades of pink, red, and white. They require a bit more care than Asiatic lilies but are well worth the effort for their stunning appearance and aroma.

Trumpet Lilies

As the name suggests, trumpet lilies boast large, trumpet-shaped flowers that add an air of elegance to any garden. Growing up to six feet tall, these lilies emit a sweet fragrance and come in white, yellow, pink, and apricot colors. They can be more susceptible to colder climates but make a striking statement when planted en masse.

Martagon Lilies

Martagon lilies are characterized by their dainty, downward-facing blooms with recurved petals. Also known as Turk’s cap lilies, they prefer shady locations and can grow up to six feet tall. These hardy plants are available in shades of pink, lavender, yellow, and white.

LA Hybrid Lilies

A cross between Asiatic and Longiflorum lilies, the LA Hybrid offers the best of both worlds. These lilies produce trumpet-shaped flowers and share the same robust nature as their Asiatic counterparts. They come in a variety of colors, such as violet, pink, yellow, and orange.

Lily VarietiesShapedSpace required
Asiatic HybridsTrumpet-shaped12-18 inches
Oriental HybridsBowl-shaped18-24 inches
Trumpet HybridsTrumpet-shaped18-24 inches
Martagon HybridsTurk’s-cap shaped6-12 inches
LA HybridsTrumpet-shaped12-24 inches

Preparing Your Soil

Like any plant, lilies flourish in soil that meets their specific needs. For these captivating beauties, rich, well-draining soil is an absolute must.

To ensure your lilies have the best possible environment for growth, begin by enriching your planting area with organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. This addition will boost the nutrient content of your soil and significantly improve its drainage capabilities.

Remember — well-draining soil prevents soggy conditions that can lead to rotting bulbs and unhealthy plants.

Additionally, check the pH of your soil. Lilies prefer slightly acidic to neutral conditions (a pH of 6.0 to 7.0). If you find your soil is too alkaline, you can amend it with sulfur or peat moss to create a more hospitable environment for your blooms.

Planting and Caring for Your Lilies

Once your soil is prepped, it’s time to plant those bulbs.

Before you start, take a moment to plan out your lily display. Consider color combinations, bloom times, and heights to create a visually stunning garden that will be the envy of your neighbors.

With a well-thought-out design in mind, you’re ready to get those bulbs in the ground.

Dig a hole that’s about three times the height of the bulb and place it in the hole with the pointed end facing up. It ensures the bulb has enough soil coverage to protect it and promote strong root development.

Next, cover the bulb with soil and water it thoroughly.

As a general guideline, lilies should be planted about 8-12 inches apart to give them enough space to grow and showcase their individual beauty. If in doubt, refer to our table above.

Remember to water your lilies regularly, but take care not to overwater. Soggy soil can lead to rotting bulbs, which is definitely not what you want for your prized blooms. To strike the right balance, make sure your soil drains well and water deeply once or twice a week, depending on your climate.

a yellow watering can on a wooden post

Adding a layer of mulch around the base of the plants will help retain moisture and prevent weeds from competing for nutrients. Mulch also helps regulate soil temperature and can provide an aesthetically pleasing finishing touch to your garden beds.

As your lilies grow and bloom, they’ll inevitably produce some spent flowers. Remove these faded blooms regularly to encourage further blooming and prevent the plant from focusing energy on producing seeds.

This process, known as deadheading, will keep your lilies looking fresh and vibrant throughout their blooming season.

Propagating Your Lilies

After several years, you may find your lily clumps becoming crowded, resulting in fewer or smaller blooms. This is a sign that it’s time to divide your bulbs.

Typically, this task is ideal for late fall or early spring. The plants are dormant during these periods, meaning there’s less risk of causing stress or damage when handling them.

Dividing your lily bulbs promotes healthier growth and offers a fantastic opportunity to share these delightful flowers with friends, family, or neighbors.

Alternatively, you can extend your own garden’s color palette by planting the divided bulbs in different areas or creating new combinations with other plants.

Begin by gently digging up the entire clump and separating the smaller bulblets from the main bulb. Brush off any excess soil and examine the bulbs closely, removing any that appear damaged or diseased.

Now that you have your healthy bulblets separated, it’s time to replant them.

Choose a prepared area in your garden or potting containers, following the same planting guidelines as before — depth, spacing, and orientation are crucial for successful growth. Provide adequate water and care as your newly divided lilies settle into their new homes.

As your divided lilies grow and mature over time, you’ll be rewarded with rejuvenated plants that produce an abundance of stunning blooms.

Protecting Your Lilies from Pests and Diseases

Lilies are generally hardy plants, but they can be susceptible to certain pests and diseases. Among the most common culprits are red lily beetles and aphids, which have the potential to cause significant damage or even kill your precious blooms.

macro shot photo of a red bug on green leaf

There are several ways to address these pest issues, including removing the insects manually or applying insecticidal soap. Manual removal can be effective for smaller infestations, while insecticidal soap works best for more widespread problems.

Maintaining a watchful eye on your plants for any signs of infestation is crucial, as catching these pests as early as possible can make all the difference in preserving the health of your lilies.

To prevent diseases like lily mosaic virus or botrytis blight, keep your garden clean and free of debris. Fallen leaves and decaying plant matter can create a breeding ground for fungi and other pathogens, so regularly clearing away this material will help maintain a healthy environment for your lilies.

Another crucial step in disease prevention is avoiding overhead watering. When water sits on the leaves and petals of your plants, it creates a damp environment that encourages fungal growth. Instead, water your lilies at the base to ensure the soil receives adequate moisture without creating conditions that promote disease.

Properly caring for your lilies will go a long way in ensuring their health and longevity. With dedication and attention to detail, you’ll cultivate a beautiful display of lilies that will not only captivate the senses but also stand the test of time.

To Sum Up

So, now you know — with some tender loving care, lilies will indeed come back every year to grace your garden with their enchanting presence.

By following the tips we’ve shared on soil preparation, planting techniques, and propagation methods, you’re sure to be well on your way to cultivating a breathtaking display of lilies that will captivate the senses and warm the heart.

Remember that investing time and effort into creating a nutrient-rich, well-draining environment for your bulbs and staying vigilant about pest control is critical to provide your lilies with the foundation they need to thrive.

All that remains is to roll up your sleeves, grab your gardening gloves, and let the magic begin. Happy gardening!


When Do Lily Flowers Bloom?

Blooming in a myriad of colors, these beauties grace our gardens from early spring to late fall. While the exact bloom time varies depending on the species, most lilies typically blossom between May and September, with some extending into October.

Do Lilies Come Back Every Year?

Yes, indeed! These perennial charmers will return annually to bring joy to your garden. With proper care and optimal conditions, many lilies can live for several years, making a lasting impression in your landscape.

Do Calla Lilies Come Back Every Year?

Elegant calla lilies are perennials, too, but they may need a bit of coaxing in colder climates. If you reside in a region with freezing winters, consider digging up the rhizomes and storing them indoors until the warmer months return.

Do Asiatic Lilies Come Back Every Year?

Asiatic lilies, with their vibrant hues and upward-facing blooms, are also perennials eager to steal the show year after year. They’re hardy little performers that can withstand frosty conditions, making them perfect for cooler climates.

Do Tiger Lilies Come Back Every Year?

The exotic tiger lily is yet another perennial delight that returns annually to grace your garden with its striking appearance. Known for their dramatic look and robust nature, tiger lilies can thrive in various environments.

When Should I Plant Lilies?

Timing is key. To ensure a successful performance, plant lily bulbs in the fall or early spring. This way, you’ll give them ample opportunity to establish roots before their grand entrance during the growing season.

Are Lilies High Maintenance?

Lilies are relatively low-maintenance plants that won’t demand constant attention. Provide them with well-draining soil, adequate sunlight, and occasional watering, and you’ll be rewarded with a stunning floral display.

Do You Have To Dig Up Lilies Every Year?

Lilies are rather self-sufficient, so there’s no need to dig them up annually. However, if you live in a colder climate or want to protect specific varieties like calla lilies, consider digging up the bulbs or rhizomes for winter storage.

Why Are My Lilies Not Growing Every Year?

A lack of growth could be attributed to various factors, including insufficient sunlight, poor soil conditions, overcrowding, or disease. Evaluate your garden settings and address any possible issues to help your lilies flourish once more.

Can Lilies Be Left in the Ground Over Winter?

For the most part, lilies can withstand winter’s chill when left in the ground. Hardy varieties like Asiatic and tiger lilies can brave the cold without issue. Still, more delicate types, such as calla lilies, may require removal and indoor storage during frigid months.

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