How to Care for Tiger Lilies


In mid to late summer, perennial tiger lilies produce large, orange, speckled flowers with a sweet, strong fragrance. Because tiger lilies spread rapidly, propagating in several ways, they grow wild on ditch banks and in meadows. Their dark, vivid color makes them showstoppers, especially when planted as a backdrop to other flowers.

Moderately Easy


things you’ll need:
  • Spade or hoe
  • Bulbs or plant starts
  • Water
  • Mulch or compost
  • Stakes
  • Plant-staking rings, wire ties or twine
  • Grapefruit rinds or slug control
    1. Provide a spot in the flower bed that receives complete sun. Tiger lilies can tolerate some shade but thrive in an area of full sun.
    2. Prepare the soil using a spade or hoe to loosen the soil to at least 10 inches. Although the tiger lily will not need to be planted this deeply, loosening the soil beneath the plant allows for good root establishment. Remove any rocks, and mix in peat moss or compost to enhance the soil.
    3. Purchase bulbs or starts of tiger lilies to plant in mid-autumn when the weather is cool. This allows the plants some time to establish themselves before winter. If you are propagating your own tiger lilies, remove the small bulbils that grow at the juncture of the leaf to the stem; these can be planted directly into garden soil or grown in peat moss or potting soil over the winter for planting the following year.
    4. Place the bulb in the loosened soil and cover with approximately 4 inches of soil. Alternatively, place the plant start in the loosened soil, and gently cover the roots, taking care to position the tiger lily start upright. Pat soil in place around the base. If planting more than one tiger lily, place bulbs or plants approximately 12 inches apart; the plants need space to grow, as they spread quickly.
    5. Soak the ground thoroughly with water. Tiger lilies prefer a moist environment. When watering, do not splash the plant; rather, apply a gentle flow of water at the base of the lily.
    6. Place mulch or compost around tiger lilies twice a year — in the spring and again in the fall. This layer of insulation retains the moisture that the plants need between waterings and protects the roots from any temperature extremes.
    7. Stake lilies to give the tall stalks support as the flowers bloom. Using a long piece of thin wood, a tomato stake or a stick, gently push the stake into the ground next to the tiger lily, being careful not to pierce the bulb beneath the soil. Attach the plant to the stake with plastic staking rings, wire ties or twine.
    8. Remove lily beetles by hand, if found; they often attack tiger lilies. If slugs attack your tiger lilies, trap them with grapefruit rinds or use other biological controls.
    9. Cut back tiger lily stalks in the fall, after the blooms have faded and the stalks have turned yellow. Remove any bulbils growing on the leaves first for planting. Cut the stalks nearly level with the ground. Do not pull the original bulb out of the ground when holding the stalk for cutting.

Tips & Warnings

  • Tiger lilies do not require any fertilizer unless the soil is poor.

  • Tiger lily bulbs will rot underground if grown in standing water.

  • Tiger lilies are toxic to cats. Ingestion of any part of the plant causes kidney failure and death in cats.

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