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How to Care for Tiger Lilies

Lockridge is an avid reader who enjoys learning about beautiful garden plants. Among other things, she has worked with a florist.


Tiger Lillies are Simple to Grow

Since tiger lilies thrive well untended in nature, it stands to reason that tiger lilies are fairly simple to grow in your home or garden as well. Above all, tiger lilies need a sunny location and moist-to-wet soil in order to bloom successfully. Plant bulbs in the late fall (or early spring for areas with harsh winters), and cover the soil with mulch to keep bulbs protected from the elements.

How to Plant Tiger Lilies

  1. Select a location that will receive full sun, about six to eight hours a day. Tiger lilies grow toward the sun, so if you plant the bulb in a partially shaded location, the bloom will lean toward the sun.
  2. Prepare soil for bulb planting by tilling it. Tilling will help with drainage, which is pivotal for proper tiger lily growth.
  3. Dig holes at least six inches down and about eight inches apart. Plant bulbs deeper down in the soil in cooler climates.
  4. Plant bulbs with the flat portion facing down (and the pointy portion facing up), and then cover with soil. Hold bulbs gently to avoid knocking off scales on the bulb.
  5. Pat the soil down over the newly planted bulb. Water the bulbs thoroughly.
  6. Cover the area with a few inches of mulch. (You may omit mulching if you plant the bulbs 12–15 inches deep.)
  7. Monitor moisture levels. Although tiger lilies are fairly drought tolerant, they thrive when watered deeply once a week. If the blooms look wilted or dry, give them a slow, deep watering more than once a week.
  8. Expect flowers to bloom in early summer to fall.
  9. Trim damaged or withered stalks and leaves as they occur in the normal growth cycle. This keeps the plant looking attractive and reserves energy for multiple blooming. Only use sterilized clippers, or you may risk infecting the plant.


Adequate aftercare of spent blooms not only keeps your garden looking tidy, but it ensures that the bulb reserves energy for next year’s growth.

  1. Once the bloom is spent, use sterilized clippers to reduce the stem size. Leave about 1/3 of the stem, and allow the stem to dry out.
  2. Remove the bulb from the soil when the stem is completely dry.
  3. Store bulb in a dark, cool, dry location until you intend to plant the bulbs next year.


  • Tiger lilies tend to look best when planted in odd-numbered groupings, such as multiples of three or five.
  • Plants require the most water while in the active growing stage. Monitor moisture levels in the soil, and ensure that the plant receives at least one inch of water per week during the active growth.
  • Only fertilize soil if conditions are sub-par. Tiger lilies tend to grow well out in the wild, so you likely won’t need to amend the soil much, if at all.
  • Keep soil covered with organic mulch. Not only does it add nutrients to the soil, mulch helps keep moisture levels high and aids with drainage.
  • Cut blooms from the plant as desired for cuttings in your home. Ensure that you only use sterilized clippers to keep the plant healthy. Tiger lily blooms tend to last a long time in water, but replace the water regularly to extend the life of your bloom.


Because tiger lilies are susceptible to slugs, consider growing the blooms in raised pots to keep slugs at a minimum.

Be on the look out for lily beetles, which are red on the top and black on the bottom. Although lily beetles most commonly feed on the leaves of lilies, they will also nosh on buds, blooms, and stems if left untreated. Remove beetles by hand, and consider adding a biological agent such as neem oil or spinosad at the first sign of infestation.

Look for aphids, tiny yellowish-brown insects on the underside of leaves and along the stems of your tiger lily. Treat your plant promptly with an insecticidal soap, as aphids are known for spreading disease.


Helpful Resources

Gardeners Supply Co: Controlling Lily Leaf Beetles

Plant Care Today: Tiger Lily Flower

Old Farmer’s Almanac: Growing Lilies

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

Questions & Answers

Question: Will tiger lily bulbs poorly planted in a drought survive and bloom again the following year?

Answer: It really all depends upon the overall weather and growing conditions, however dry soil conditions are much better than soggy conditions as you'd hate for the bulb to have rot.

Question: How much water does a tiger lily need?

Answer: Tiger lilies need the most water when initially planted (or transplanted) and during active growing season. Typically tiger lilies need little to moderate amounts of water, and are fairly drought tolerant. Water the plant deeply about once a week, or when the plant looks wilted.