How to Grow and Care for an Easter Lily, a Perennial Bulb That Symbolizes Spring's Arrival

Caring for the flower properly will ensure it lasts past the Easter holiday.

White Easter Lily Flowers with a Neutral Background
Photo: Crystal Bolin Photography / Getty Images

Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum) is a perennial bulb that has long symbolized the resurgence of spring—so it makes sense that it's popular in flower shops and grocery stores around Easter. The bulb thrives in gardening zones 4 through 8 and is recognized by its white trumpet-shaped flowers and sweet fragrance.

Though the Easter lily is native to the southern islands of Japan, the bulbs are grown on farms in the United States and make a beautiful addition to any home come spring. Despite its association with Easter, you can encourage your lily to flourish long after the holiday has passed with some basic maintenance.

How to Choose an Easter Lily

The perennial is typically purchased as a potted plant, rather than grown by seed. "Select a lily that is not fully in bloom, but displays a variety of buds and blooms to keep a succession of pretty flowers coming," says Warren Summers, the former president of the North American Lily Society.

To maximize the indoor shelf life of the flowers, look for healthy green foliage, a straight stem, and plenty of well-formed buds that are symmetrically arranged with only one or two flowers open. And, like with all other plants, make sure there are no bugs or signs of distress on the foliage.

Easter Lily Care

Once you bring your potted Easter lily home, don't just set it out as a holiday decoration and forget to maintain it. In order to extend its lifespan, care for the perennial as you would any other houseplant you keep in your home year round.


Your Easter lily will already have soil in its pot if you purchased it from your local nursery or grocery store, but if you need to re-pot it or if you want to plant it in the ground, you'll need to know what soil it likes. "Easter lilies grow best in well-draining soil that is slightly acidic to neutral and is rich in organic matter," says Bridget Langan of


Easter lilies require bright, indirect light to grow properly. "When outdoors, Easter lilies will thrive in a sunny spot that gets some protection from the hot afternoon sun," says Langan. "When indoors, they will thrive in a location that receives several hours of bright, filtered sunlight each day." Rotate the plant periodically to ensure even growth and sun exposure.


These plants are particular when it comes to water—the plant likes consistently moist, but not waterlogged soil. "As a general rule of thumb, Easter lilies should be watered when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch," says Langan. "It is important to not let the soil dry out completely." This can cause stress to the plant and may lead to reduced flower growth.

On the other hand, overwatering can cause root rot. To strike the perfect balance, it's best to water deeply and thoroughly at the base of the plant, avoiding wetting the leaves and flowers.


When finding a spot in your home for Easter lily, make sure the area isn't too cold. Easter lilies thrive in mild, not-too-hot, not-too-cold temperatures around 65 to 75 degrees during daytime and 55 to 65 degrees at night. Also avoid placing the perennial in front of a radiator or air conditioning vent as this can potentially dry out your plant.


The timing of fertilizer application for Easter lilies is crucial and should be done in the spring when they begin to produce new growth. "Fertilizing too early can encourage lush foliage growth at the expense of the flowers," says Langan. "Fertilizing too late may not provide enough nutrition to grow healthy blooms." Use a balanced, slow-release fertilizer specifically formulated for flowering plants. Apply it evenly around the base of the plant, avoiding getting it on the foliage or flowers.

Easter lily close up
itasun / Getty Images

How to Prune Easter Lily

In general, Easter lilies require minimal pruning. Use sharp pruning sheers to remove dry or dead flowers as they appear, and remove the yellow anthers from the center to keep the flower fresh longer. "Pruning lilies midseason consists of deadheading blooms and cutting back brown foliage," says Langan. "At the end of the growing season, you may cut back the whole stem to soil level."

How to Propagate Easter Lily

After the Easter lily has finished blooming and the leaves have yellowed and died, you can begin the propagating process. Plant your small bulbils (which are small, dark pods that grow around the base of the main bulb) outdoors to create a beautiful section of lilies in your garden. Keep in mind that they're not pet-friendly and should be kept away from curious cats and dogs.

  1. Dig up the bulb and remove any remaining soil.
  2. Look for small bulbils that have grown at the base of the main bulb.
  3. Separate the bulbils from the main bulb and be sure not to damage the roots.
  4. Plant the bulbils root side down in holes that are 6 inches apart and about 5 inches deep.
  5. Re-cover with soil after placing the bulbs in the holes.
  6. Water your bulbs after the last frost in the spring.

How to Re-Pot Easter Lily

Once your lilies have stopped blooming and the leaves have died back, you can re-pot the plant. "Choose a pot that is 1 to 2 inches larger in diameter than the current pot," says Langan.

  1. Dig up the bulb, being careful not to damage the roots.
  2. Fill the new pot with fresh, well-draining soil.
  3. Remove any damaged roots from the bulb and separate any bulbils that have formed.
  4. Place the bulb in the center of its new pot, ensuring the roots can spread out evenly.
  5. Water the soil thoroughly and place the pot in a bright location.

How to Get Your Easter Lily to Re-Bloom

The quality of your current bulb is key to getting an Easter lily to bloom. "You must begin with a healthy, high-quality bulb that has been properly stored and unexposed to extreme temperatures or moisture," says Langan. "Be sure to plant the bulb in well-draining soil, and place it in a sunny location that receives filtered sunlight." Water the lily deeply and apply fertilizer to the base of the plant every two to four weeks, providing support with a stake to prevent it from falling over.

Common Problems With Easter Lily

Despite being relatively easy to care for, there are a few common issues you may run into when caring for Easter lily. Knowing the signs will help you prevent and treat these problems.

Yellowing Leaves

If you've noticed the leaves of your Easter lily have started to yellow, it's likely because you are under watering it. "To avoid this, be sure to be cognizant of how much water you are giving your Easter lily, and only water it when the top inch of soil feels dry," says Langan.

Stunted Growth

Stunted growth is another common issue you may encounter when caring for an Easter lily. "This stems from poor soil quality, insufficient light, or disease," says Langan. "Fertilizing your lily every two to four weeks and providing it with enough sunlight can remedy this issue."

Updated by Audrey Cook
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