With their orange petals dotted with purplish-brown spots, it might seem as if colorful tiger lilies should instead be called leopard lilies. The website Flora of North America notes many lilies are nicknamed tiger lilies, but only the Lilium lancifolium is a true tiger lily. This summer-bloomer does well in USDA zones 3 through 9. Tiger lilies are among the hardiest lilies, and if given the proper conditions, they will reward you with beautiful flowers every summer.
Tiger lilies will adapt to a wide range of light conditions. Choose an area that receives full sun to partial shade to plant your tiger lilies. A notable feature of tiger lilies is their resistance to the viruses that affect other lilies. While tiger lilies carry many of these viruses, the viruses do not cause damage to the tiger lilies. These same viruses, however, can spread to other lilies, so always plant tiger lilies well away from other lily varieties.
Like most lilies, tiger lilies need well-draining soil. Unlike many lilies, however, tiger lilies will grow in all but the poorest of soils. The addition of compost, worked into the soil before planting, will help poor soils.
Tiger lilies are not grown from bulbs, but are instead grown from the small bulbils that develop on leaf joints. Remove the bulbils from the tiger lily within a month after the flower petals have dropped. Plant the bulbils in the fall, burying them 2 inches deep and covering them with a 2-inch layer of mulch for the winter. The bulbils will show growth the following spring. Alternatively, you can get a head start on your tiger lilies by planting the bulbils indoors under artificial light, keeping them indoors through the winter. Plant the young tiger lilies outdoors the following spring.
Unless the weather is particularly dry, tiger lilies will survive on normal rainfall. If additional watering is needed, water tiger lilies only during their growing season, saturating the ground so the water reaches the plant’s deep roots. An application of mulch will help keep the soil moist and the ground cool, conditions tiger lilies prefer. Let the ground dry and the plant die back after flowering is complete.
The hardy tiger lily rarely needs fertilizing. If growing tiger lilies in poor soil, feed them with an organic fertilizer when new shoots appear in the spring.