Though their appearance varies depending on the type and species, lilies are known for their large, beautiful, star-like blooms and long, thin stems. They’re surprisingly hardy plants that can grow and survive in a wide range of climate zones and can thrive in flower pots and planters as well as in garden plots. They’re grown from bulbs rather than seeds or tubers, so investing in a good, healthy set of lily bulbs is the only way to produce your own.
Why buy lily bulbs?
Lilies make a beautiful addition to a garden. They’re hardy, easy to grow, eye-catching, fragrant, and available in a wide array of colors. While many lily species are known for their large blooms, they come in many different shapes and sizes to fit different-sized gardens. Even though many have large blooms, they tend to have long, tall stems so that they don’t take up too much room in your plot. They also tend to do well in pots and planters and make great cut flowers to display in your home. And many lilies are perennial rather than annual, which means that they bloom again year after year; you don’t have to replant new bulbs each growing season. These bulbs are hardy enough to survive snow in all but the coldest regions and bloom anew in the spring.
What should you look for in lily bulbs?
- Type: As with most flowers, there are multiple varieties of lilies you can buy as bulbs and plant in your garden. There are easter lilies, peace lilies, stargazer lilies, lilies of the valley, spider lilies, calla lilies, tiger lilies; the list goes on. You can even find some wild varieties of lilies to grow in your garden or yard. Consider if you want classic, star-like lilies or something a little more unusual. Also keep in mind that different species of lilies will have different soil, hardiness, growing and planting seasons, pest resistance, and sunlight requirements. And while many types of lilies are naturally perennial unless cut, there are some annual varieties that only bloom once instead of year after year.
- Color: While white is often thought of as the standard shade for lilies, this is far from your only color option. There are plenty of bulbs that grow into bright, bold, and colorful lilies. Various shades of orange, yellow, cream, red, pink, and peach are all common, natural options. There are also multicolored and spotted varieties.
- Quantity: Consider how many lilies you want to plant in your garden, how much room they’ll take up, and how much space you have available. Also keep in mind that some varieties will produce more than one bloom per bulb, so even if you receive, say, five bulbs, you might end up with 15 blossoms. Compared to flowers like daffodils or tulips, it’s tricky to find larger bulk quantities of lily bulbs. Anything larger than 10 to 12 bulbs per set is going to be a challenge to track down; you may have to buy several packs of bulbs if you want a larger volume of lilies in your garden.
What planting environment is best for lily bulbs?
This will vary somewhat depending on the type of lily in question. Always be sure to read a bulb’s listing to get a better idea of their requirements. That said, most lily bulbs grow best when planted in soil that is both fertile and well-drained; too much water may cause the bulbs to rot. Bulbs should be planted roughly 6 inches below the surface and spaced 6 to 8 inches apart (further for bulbs on the larger side). Unless the listing says otherwise, it’s also generally a good idea to plant your lily bulb in an area that gets plenty of sunlight. Most lilies, especially types that are native to warm environments, thrive best when they get direct sunlight. They are capable of growing in partial shade, but more sunlight will lead to healthier flowers.
In terms of the proper climate, the USDA generated a “plant hardiness zone map,” which ranks different parts of the United States by “hardiness zones.” This takes into account average annual temperature, latitude, proximity to the coasts and mountains, and other factors into consideration and gives them a zone number between 3 and 10. Zone 3 is further north for the hardiest plants, while Zone 10 is for heat-tolerant plants. Any lily bulb you look to buy should list the hardiness zone or zones it can survive in, so be sure to look up your home region’s hardiness zone to make sure your climate is suitable for your bulbs. Most lily bulbs can grow in zones 4 through 9, so this shouldn’t be a huge issue, but some are pickier, so it’s worth looking into.
Also bear in mind that, if planted in a suitable environment and left to their own devices, perennial lilies will often multiply and rebloom the following year. So don’t be surprised if you plant three lily bulbs one year and wind up with extras during the next growing season.
Willard & May Stargazer Lilies Flower Bulbs
Whether you want stargazer lilies in your garden or to cut for your home, these 12 bulbs will bloom into large, beautiful ones.
Pros: Whether you want to grow stargazer lilies specifically or are looking for large, beautiful blooms for your garden, these bulbs will be the perfect addition to your home garden. Stargazer lily plants can grow up to 4 feet tall with a 1-foot spread, these bulbs included. (They can be grown in containers, but keep in mind that they likely won’t grow as tall or have as big of blooms compared to being planted in a garden.) They are perennial flowers, so you’ll get stargazer lilies for years to come, even if you grow them in partial shade; full sun is best, but this variety can tolerate some shade. They also make great cut flowers for a beautiful home-cut bouquet if having perennial lilies isn’t your goal. And with 12 bulbs per pack, you get a higher quantity than most, increasing your chances of having more bulbs spout, grow, and blossom.
Cons: If deer are a big problem where you live, you’ll have to be very careful about where you plant these bulbs and ensure they’re well-protected against pests. They’re not deer-resistant, and many deer consider stargazer lilies to be a tasty snack. Stargazer lilies also don’t always do well in hotter climates; these bulbs are considered for USDA hardy zones 3 to 8, but they likely won’t grow in any area warmer than zone 8– and even consumers in zone 8 may have a harder time growing these bulbs properly. You’ll also want to avoid cutting these lilies into a bouquet and displaying them in your home if you have a pet cat, as they’re toxic to cats who decide to chew on them.
Bottom Line: Stargazer lilies are one of the most popular and recognizable subspecies of lilies due to their large, show-stopping blossoms and eye-catching fuschia and white coloring. Whether you want these lilies in your garden year after year or to grow your own fresh-cut stargazer lily bouquet, these are the perfect bulbs for you.
Freshly Dug Perennial Lily Flower Bulbs
If deer are a problem in your area, you can grow these bulbs without worrying about them becoming a snack.
Pros: If you want as vibrant and colorful a garden as possible, you’ll love this pack of assorted Asiatic lilies. You get 10 bulbs that grow into lilies of various colors from rich orange to cream, pastel pink to sunny yellow, fiery red to bi-toned; you could get any mix of these colors and more. Even though the colors are mixed, the type of lily is not. Each bulb grows into an Asiatic lily, which boasts flowers that can grow from 4.5 to 5 inches wide each and are another perennial species to boot. Even better, unlike many other species of lilies, these ones are more deer-resistant than average, so you should have one less pest to worry about destroying your flowers.
Cons: While the mixed colors of these bulbs offer a fun surprise for the consumer, they aren’t a great choice for people who want a certain color or theme for their gardens.
Bottom Line: Asiatic lilies are a hybrid that is among the hardiest and most accessible types of lilies to grow, an ideal choice for novice gardeners who want to enjoy some big, beautiful flowers in their garden. But even experienced gardeners will benefit from the giant, lovely lilies and the bright, assorted colors they bring to a planter, bouquet, or garden.
SB Heirloom Red Spider Lily Bulbs
If you want something a little different from the usual large-blooming lilies, these spider lily bulbs will be right up your alley.
Pros: If you’re looking to fill your garden with more unique plants and flowers or don’t have the space for flowers as tall as more traditional lilies, these distinctive, bright red spiders lilies will be right up your alley. Besides their shorter, slender, intricate appearance, these spider lily bulbs have the rare distinction of being able to be planted at any time of year. They’re also, once bloomed, more resistant to drought and hotter temperatures than many other lilies. Yet they’re still perennial, so you’ll be able to enjoy their vibrant red color for years to come.
Cons: The heat resistance these spider lily bulbs offer does come with a flip side—they grow in more limited hardiness zones than most other lilies, only zones 7 through 10. Also keep in mind that these bulbs may not bear any fruit (so to speak) at first. It’s not unusual for gardeners who plant these bulbs to not see any flowers during their first blooming season, so you may have to wait a year or more before you get to enjoy your unique lilies.
Bottom Line: Spider lilies are unique and striking plants that will liven and brighten up a garden. If you want some vibrant flowers for your plot but don’t want the larger blooms of classic lilies, you’ll love the explosion of red that appears every year after planting these spider lilies.
Holland Bulb Farms Millennium Gold Calla Lily
Calla lilies aren't only available in florist shops, as these bulbs allow you to grow them right in your own garden.
Pros: If you’d prefer shorter, more compact lilies to make a border or bed for your garden rather than an eye-catching centerpiece, the bright gold, perennial calla lilies that grow from these bulbs are perfect for either or both. Yet they also thrive equally well as houseplants and don’t require a ton of attention to survive. Unlike some lilies, which grow smaller in containers, these calla lily bulbs are much more likely to grow to their full potential in a pot or planter. And unlike a lot of other lilies, they can thrive just fine on partial sun. As a bonus, you’ll get multiple blooms per bulb.
Cons: Even though these bulbs grow multiple blooms, you only get three bulbs per set with golden calla lilies as your only color option. They can only grow outdoors in zones 7 to 10.
Bottom Line: Most people have only seen calla lilies in florist shops or as part of bridal bouquets, but you can actually grow your own at home! This handful of bulbs will give you golden tube-shaped flowers that make great borders or beds in gardens.
serui Wild Day Lily Bulbs
These easy-to-grow wild lily bulbs are especially great for novice gardeners or people who don't have as much time to tend their flowers as they'd like.
Pros: Though lilies are generally quite hardy and easy to care for, these wild daylilies are perhaps the most low maintenance of them all. They can grow just about anywhere regardless of sunlight and soil, don’t require any special preparation for colder months (as they are another perennial variety), don’t have to be watered every day, grow quickly, and are resistant to both colder temperatures and drought. If your garden or yard has erosion problems, these lilies can even be helpful with these issues. And you get the bulbs for a lower price than most to boot.
Cons: The daylilies that grow from these bulbs will be nice and tall as most lilies are, but they also may provide smaller blooms than most; the bulbs can vary in size, and smaller bulbs mean smaller flowers. You also get fewer bulbs overall than many sets, only 5 instead of 10 or 12. And all the daylilies will be orange; there aren’t any alternate color options.
Bottom Line: Depending on where you live, you may have seen daylilies growing wild in your backyard, the park, or nearby woods. With these bulbs, you can bring them into your garden or home if you’re looking for a set of beautiful flowers that are extremely easy to care for, even for the most inexperienced gardeners.
Due to their hardiness, vibrance, and loveliness, lilies are a popular choice in countless home gardens and planters. Novice and expert gardeners alike can grow them with relative ease. Even planting just a few lily bulbs in your backyard plot can produce multiple large, beautiful flowers you’ll enjoy for years to come.