Grow Lily of the Valley: Easy Tips for a Beautiful Bloom

If you’re looking for a fragrant and beautiful perennial to add to your garden, look no further than the lily of the valley. Not only does this plant produce delicate and sweet-smelling white flowers, but it’s also incredibly easy to grow.

In this article, we’ll share our top tips for growing lily of the valley, including best practices for planting, watering, fertilizing, and pruning. We’ll also address common issues you may encounter when growing lily of the valley, and offer troubleshooting advice so that you can enjoy a bountiful and fragrant bloom.

Whether you’re a seasoned gardener or a beginner, our guide will provide you with everything you need to know to grow and care for this stunning plant. So let’s get started and learn how to grow lily of the valley.

Understanding Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley is a delicate and fragrant flowering plant that is native to Europe and Asia. It is a popular choice for gardeners due to its beautiful white flowers and sweet scent. However, lily of the valley can be a tricky plant to grow, and it requires specific growing conditions to thrive.

Ideal Soil Conditions

Lily of the valley prefers moist soil that is rich in organic matter. It does not do well in dry or sandy soil. The ideal soil pH is between 6 and 7. If your soil is not in this range, you can add lime to raise the pH or sulfur to lower it.

Light and Temperature Requirements

Lily of the valley can grow in partial shade to full shade. It prefers cooler temperatures, making it an excellent choice for gardens in temperate climates. If your area experiences hot summers, you may need to provide shade for your plants.

Caring for Lily of the Valley

Once established, lily of the valley plants require minimal maintenance. Water regularly, and avoid overwatering, as this can lead to root rot. Fertilize with a balanced fertilizer once a year in the spring.

It is essential to monitor your lily of the valley plants for pests and diseases. Common issues include aphids, slugs, and powdery mildew. Remove any infected leaves or flowers immediately to prevent the spread of disease.

Now that you understand the best growing conditions for lily of the valley, it’s time to prepare for planting. In the next section, we’ll explore how to get your garden bed or containers ready for this beautiful flowering plant.

Preparing for Planting

Before you start planting your lily of the valley, it’s important to prepare your garden bed or container properly. Follow these steps to ensure your plants have the best chance of thriving:

Step Details
1 Select a planting location: Choose a location that receives dappled sunlight or partial shade. While the plant can tolerate full shade, it often results in weaker growth and fewer blooms.
2 Prepare the soil: Lily of the valley grows best in a well-draining, rich soil, with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Amend the soil with compost or well-rotted manure to ensure it has the necessary nutrients to support plant growth.
3 Clear the area: Remove any debris, weeds, or grass from the area where you plan to plant your lily of the valley. This will prevent competition for nutrients and help your plants establish themselves more easily.
4 Prepare the planting hole: Dig a hole that is slightly wider and deeper than the root ball of your plant. This will provide enough space for the roots to spread and establish themselves.

Once you have completed these steps, you will be ready to plant your lily of the valley. Check out the next section for detailed instructions on how to do so.

Planting Lily of the Valley

Now that you’ve prepared your planting location and soil, it’s time to start planting your lily of the valley. Here are the steps:

Step 1: Choose Your Planting Method

You can choose to plant lily of the valley through seeds or rhizomes. However, it’s best to opt for the latter since growing from seeds can be more challenging and time-consuming. Lily of the valley rhizomes can be transplanted from an established plant or purchased from a reputable dealer.

Step 2: Prepare the Soil

Before planting, ensure the soil is moist and workable. Use a garden cultivator or a rake to loosen the soil to a depth of around 6-8 inches. Remove any rocks, weeds, or debris and add organic matter (such as compost) to enrich the soil.

Step 3: Planting

Plant the rhizomes about 1-2 inches deep, and space each plant about 6-8 inches apart. Ensure that the roots are facing downwards and the shoots are pointing upwards. Cover the rhizomes with soil, and gently tamp the soil around each plant. Water the plants thoroughly.

Tip: If you’re creating a border, plant in a zig-zag pattern to create a natural look.

Step 4: Mulching

Apply a 1-2 inch layer of mulch around the plants to help retain moisture and prevent weed growth. Suitable mulch materials include wood chips, pine needles, and shredded leaves.

Planting Method Planting Time Bloom Time
Rhizomes Spring or Fall Spring
Seeds Winter or early Spring Second year Spring

It’s important to note that lily of the valley can be aggressive and invasive, so it’s best to plant them in a contained area or a spot where they won’t spread too much.

Watering and Fertilizing

Proper watering and fertilizing are crucial to the health and beauty of your lily of the valley plants. Here are some tips:


Lily of the valley plants prefer consistently moist soil, but they do not tolerate wet feet. Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues.

Water your plants deeply once a week, or more often during hot, dry weather. Be sure the soil is well-draining, and avoid getting water on the leaves, as this can contribute to fungal diseases.


Lily of the valley plants do not require excessive fertilization. In fact, too much fertilizer can lead to weak, floppy growth and reduced flower production.

Apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in early spring, before the plant begins to bloom. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dosage and application method. Avoid fertilizing after the blooms have faded, as this can interfere with the plant’s natural cycle.

Expert Tip: If you prefer to use organic fertilizer, consider adding a layer of compost to the soil around your lily of the valley plants in the fall. This will provide nutrient-rich organic matter to the roots over the winter, and reduce the need for chemical fertilizers in the spring.

Pruning and Dividing

Pruning and dividing lily of the valley plants is essential to ensure their health and longevity. By removing old or damaged leaves and dividing the plants, you can encourage new growth and prevent overcrowding. Here are some tips to help you prune and divide lily of the valley.

When to Prune

The best time to prune lily of the valley is in late summer or early fall, after the blooming season has ended. Use sharp scissors or shears to trim back any damaged or diseased leaves. Be sure to remove only one-third of the foliage, as cutting back too much can weaken the plant.

When to Divide

Lily of the valley plants should be divided every three to four years to prevent overcrowding and encourage new growth. The best time to divide them is in the fall, after the blooming season has ended. Dig up the clumps and separate them into smaller sections, making sure each section has a healthy rhizome and several leaves. Replant them in well-draining soil and water thoroughly.

Tools You’ll Need

To prune and divide lily of the valley plants, you’ll need a few basic tools. These include:

  • Sharp scissors or shears
  • Garden gloves
  • Garden fork or spade

Be sure to wear gloves to protect your hands from the plant’s toxic sap.

Preventing Problems

To prevent problems with your lily of the valley plants, be sure to keep them healthy and well-maintained. Avoid over-watering, and make sure they are planted in well-draining soil. Watch out for pests and diseases, and treat them promptly if you notice any signs of trouble.

“Pruning and dividing lily of the valley is essential to ensure their health and longevity.”

By following these tips and keeping a close eye on your plants, you can enjoy the beauty and fragrance of lily of the valley for many years to come.

Common Pests and Diseases

Lily of the valley plants are generally hardy and resistant to pests and diseases. However, even the healthiest plants can be susceptible to certain problems. Here are some common pests and diseases to watch out for:

Slugs and Snails

These pests love to feast on lily of the valley leaves, leaving behind unsightly holes and damage. To prevent slugs and snails from munching on your plants, try the following:

  • Set up beer traps near your plants to attract and drown slugs and snails.
  • Apply a slug and snail repellent around the base of your plants.
  • Handpick any slugs or snails you see and dispose of them.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are tiny pests that can cause a lot of damage to lily of the valley leaves. They are difficult to spot, but you may notice tiny webs on your plants or yellowed, stippled leaves. To get rid of spider mites:

  • Spray your plants with a neem oil solution.
  • Introduce natural predators like ladybugs to your garden.

Fungal Diseases

Lily of the valley plants are prone to fungal diseases like powdery mildew and leaf spot. To prevent and treat these diseases:

  • Water your plants at the base and avoid getting the leaves wet.
  • Remove any infected leaves and dispose of them.
  • Apply a fungal spray to your plants according to the instructions on the label.


Unfortunately, lily of the valley plants are also susceptible to viral infections, which can cause stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and distorted flowers. Once a plant is infected with a virus, it cannot be cured, and the plant should be removed to prevent the spread of the virus to other plants.

Note: Always practice good garden hygiene by cleaning your tools and equipment between uses. This can help prevent the spread of pests and diseases.

Harvesting and Using Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley is a beautiful, fragrant flower that can be enjoyed both indoors and outdoors. Here are some tips on how to harvest and use this lovely flower:

When to Harvest Lily of the Valley

The best time to harvest lily of the valley is in the morning, after the dew has dried but before the heat of the day has set in. Choose flowers that are fully open and have a strong fragrance.

How to Harvest Lily of the Valley

To harvest lily of the valley, simply cut the stem at the base of the plant with sharp, clean scissors or pruning shears. Be sure to leave enough stem so that you can arrange the flowers in a vase or bouquet. Avoid cutting too many flowers from one plant, as this can weaken it and reduce blooms in the future.

Using Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley is commonly used in bouquets and floral arrangements, where it adds a delicate beauty and sweet fragrance. It can also be used to scent potpourri or sachets.

Some people believe that lily of the valley has medicinal properties and can be used to treat a variety of ailments, such as heart conditions, insomnia, and anxiety. However, it is important to note that lily of the valley is toxic if ingested, so it should only be used externally or under the guidance of a qualified healthcare professional.

“Lily of the valley is one of my favorite flowers to use in arrangements. Its delicate beauty and sweet fragrance always add a touch of elegance.”

-Jennifer, florist

Troubleshooting Common Problems

Even with the best care, lily of the valley can sometimes encounter problems. Here are some common issues and solutions to help you troubleshoot.

Problem: No Blooms

If your lily of the valley isn’t producing blooms, it may be due to too much shade or lack of nutrients. Try adding a balanced fertilizer and exposing the plant to more sunlight.

Problem: Yellowing Leaves

Yellowing leaves may be a sign of overwatering or disease. Make sure you aren’t watering your lily of the valley too frequently and check for signs of disease, such as spots or discoloration.

Problem: Tangled Roots

Lily of the valley is known for its spreading, invasive roots. If your plant’s roots have become tangled or overcrowded, it’s time to divide them. Dig up the plant and separate the roots, replanting them in a new location.

Problem: Pests

Common pests that can affect lily of the valley include aphids and spider mites. Use insecticidal soap to control infestations and keep an eye out for signs of other pests, such as chewed leaves or webbing.

Problem: Wilting Flowers

Wilting flowers may be due to lack of water or poor drainage. Make sure your lily of the valley is getting enough water without becoming waterlogged.

By following these tips and troubleshooting common problems, you can ensure your lily of the valley plants thrive and produce beautiful, fragrant blooms.


Here are some of the most commonly asked questions about growing and caring for lily of the valley:

Q: Is lily of the valley a shade-loving plant?

A: Yes, lily of the valley prefers to grow in partial to full shade. However, it can also tolerate some morning sunlight.

Q: How often should I water my lily of the valley plants?

A: During the growing season, water your lily of the valley plants regularly, keeping the soil evenly moist. However, be careful not to overwater, as too much water can cause the roots to rot.

Q: Can I plant lily of the valley in containers?

A: Yes, lily of the valley can be grown successfully in containers. Just make sure the pots have good drainage and the soil is kept moist.

Q: How do I prevent my lily of the valley from spreading too much?

A: If you want to limit the spread of your lily of the valley, consider planting them in a container or use a barrier to prevent the rhizomes from growing beyond a certain point. You can also divide the rhizomes every few years to control their growth.

Q: Can I grow lily of the valley from seed?

A: Yes, but it can be challenging. Lily of the valley seeds require a period of cold stratification before they will germinate. It’s often easier to propagate the plant by dividing the rhizomes.

Q: Are there any companion plants that go well with lily of the valley?

A: Yes, lily of the valley pairs well with other shade-loving plants such as ferns, hostas, and coral bells. You can also plant them with spring-blooming bulbs like daffodils and tulips for a burst of color.