Lilies: A Gorgeous Container Plant

With some careful planning and preparation lilies can be beautiful container plants. They can be planted on their own or as a focal point in an arrangement. No matter how you use them, showy lilies can have a dramatic impact on your outdoor container arrangements.

Plan Ahead

Like many bulbs, lilies need a period of chilling to grow and bloom so they must be planted in the fall the year before you want to display them.

Depending on the variety of lily, they can grow very tall. For this reason they require large, heavy containers. The lilies can be very top heavy and easily topple in light containers when caught in the wind.

Avoid Rot

Lillium longiflorum x Asiatic 'Easter Bonnet'

Lillium longiflorum x Asiatic ‘Easter Bonnet’

Lily bulbs are also very susceptible to rot. Use a well draining soil mix that includes some coarse sand and perlite. Protect the pots from excessive rain if you are storing them outdoors for the winter. If you experience harsh winters, store your pots in a cool, but protected environment. Garages and potting sheds are perfect for housing dormant lilies.

The deeper you plant the lily bulbs the better. Depth in planting will encourage strong stems and healthy roots. However, you want to make sure you have several inches of space below the bulbs for root to grow. If you intend to add other plants alongside the lilies in the same container, you will want to keep the bulbs closer to the surface. About 4 inches deep will be sufficient. Most companion plants will require more water than the lilies. If the bulbs are too deep, the extra water will cause the bulbs to stay soggy and rot. Planting the bulbs closer to the surface will increase air circulation to the roots and encourage them to dry out faster.

Heavy Feeders

Lilies are heavy feeders. Include a generous amount of slow release fertilizer in the potting mix. Alternatively, you can feed the lilies with tomato fertilizer once a month during the growing months.  Lilies also prefer slightly acidic soils. Most lilies thrive in full sun, but will also perform well in partial sun.

 Types of Lilies

Asiatic lily

Asiatic lily

Asiatic lilies are the easiest to grow. They are very prolific and will multiply rapidly. These lilies bloom earliest in the summer season and some varieties can grow up to six feet tall. It is wise to use shorter varieties in containers so you don’t have to stake them or worry about tipping the containers.

There are several shorter varieties of Asiatic lilies that you can choose from.

  • ‘Purple Rain’ grows about 32 inches tall and produces white flowers with maroon centers.
  • ‘Enchantment’ is a bright orange lily that grows three feet tall. It would pair well with a border of marigolds.
  • ‘Dani Afrin’ offers pink flowers that bloom in early summer.


Lilies are repeat performers year after year. Their bulbs will multiply and can be stored in the same container if protected over the winter. You can also dig up the bulbs and plant them in new containers or store them in a chilled and dry environment.

Lilies are an attractive, colorful focal point for container arrangements. They add components of height and interest to large containers.

Have you used lilies in outdoor arrangements? What are your favorite varieties? What challenges did you run into? 



“Growing lilies in containers or pots” The Lily Flower Store
“Lilies” The Old Farmers Almanac. <>
“Lily” Better Homes and Gardens Plant Encyclopedia.>
Asiatic lily photo credit: Sarah (Rosenau) Korf via
Lillium longiflorum x Asiatic ‘Easter Bonnet’ photo credit: F.D. Richards via[email protected]/7433282730/

Melanie is a plant enthusiast and expert contributor at and Melanie's experience in internet marketing, business management, and horticulture allows her to bring a unique perspective to the community. Melanie received a Bachelor's degree in Organizational Leadership from Purdue University and is the Marketing Director at NewPro Containers.

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