Planting and Dividing Tips for Lily Bulbs

Planting lily bulbs is a great way to add showy, vibrant color to your garden. With an incredible native range that extends across most of the northern hemisphere, lilies are a versatile garden plant that comes in a wide range of colors.

Planting Lily Bulbs
Although lilies are hardy plants, you'll get healthier, more prolific plants if you provide them with a favorable growing environment. Get ready to plant lily bulbs with these tips:

  • Look for a sunny spot. Lilies prefer full sun locations, but they like to grow in cool soil. Place your lily bulbs in a location that gets at least six hours of sun per day. After planting, a good layer of mulch will help your lilies beat the heat.
  • Create a good foundation. Lilies grow best in light, well-drained soil. They prefer a slightly acidic pH-amending your soil with peat moss will improve drainage and help to lower the soil's pH. In clay or heavy soil, consider planting in raised beds to provide proper drainage.
  • Feed well. As you prepare your soil, add a quarter ounce of bone meal or bulb fertilizer per square foot. Mix the plant food into the soil well to avoid burning the roots.

Multiply By Dividing
One of the great things about lilies is that they create new plants each year by offsetting bulbs. You can harvest these new bulbs for replanting or to give to friends and neighbors. You'll want to harvest new lily bulbs about every three years. If you notice your plants are producing fewer blooms, it's probably time to harvest. The process of collecting new bulbs is called division. Here's how it works:

  • Remember the fall. Lily bulbs go dormant in the fall, and this is the best time to divide them. They are hardy plants, so you might get away with an early spring division, but the new plants will need extra care.
  • Lift and separate. To divide lily bulbs, dig up the entire clump with a pitchfork or shovel. When the clump is loose, lift it and shake some of the dirt loose from around the sides. Set the clump down, and, using a sharp shovel, cut the clump into three or four wedge-shaped sections.
  • Be quick about it. Once you've divided your lily bulbs, be sure to get them back in the ground before they dry out. Plant them in a new location or pot them with some extra potting soil. Either way, your lily plants will happily keep multiplying-by division.
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