Lily of the Vally Planting Guide

Lily of the valley, or convallaria, is native to moist woodland areas in Europe. It grows well in cooler parts of the U.S. This low growing, spreading plant establishes readily in shady sites under trees and shrubs. Convallaria’s ability to form a neat, flowering mat that covers bare ground and perfumes the air in spring has earn it a place in many hearts, and gardens.

Choosing a Growing Site

Lily of the valley plants prefer at least partial shade and are happy with a range of light from dabbled sunlight to moderately shady to the shade that’s found on the north side of buildings. These hardy perennials gently spread with underground runners to fill in and crowd out weeds. Maturing to just 8” tall, they always look neat and trim, without having to be, well, trimmed.

Soil Preparation

Light to moderate feeders, lily of the valley grow well in average, well-drained soil and doesn’t require rich, perfect loam. Compost, dug in when planting or added as a top dressing later, provides a welcome supply of nutrients. Keep in mind that composts' NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) ratio vary greatly product to product. Don't assume that adding more is better.

When to Plant Lily of the Valley

Plant your lily of the valley pips - that's what the new plants are called - outdoors when frost danger has past. Lily of the valley pips are super winter hardy perennials that can take severe freezes without ill effects once they are established.  During their first spring however, plant after frosts are past, the ground has warmed a bit and the night temperatures are no longer freezing. 

How to Plant Bareroot Lily of the Valley

Your lily of the valley ships bareroot, in a dormant state. Dormancy simply means the plant is not in actively growing. In this case, the roots are been held in a cool, dark setting similar to winter garden conditions. This makes the plnats think it's winter and they just sleep through. For bareroot plants the soil has been washed from the roots eliminating any risk of introducing any soil-borne diseases into your landscape. Bare root plants are also lighter weight and cleaner to ship. When you plant your lily of the valley, adding light and moisture, they’ll wake up. Roots start growing in a few days and top growth is usually visible in 1-3 weeks.

Before planting, trim 1" of roots off the bottom of your plants. This encourages new growth by removing any dried or damaged root tips. 

Dig up your planting area to a depth of about 6”. Add a few shovels full of compost and mix it in. Smooth the soil. Tease your lily of the valley pips apart and scoop a handful of soil aside. Place the pip, the slender rooted plant, in the shallow hole and fan out the roots so they’ll be able to absorb moisture and nutrients from as wide an area as possible. Settle the soil around the pip so the roots are covered and the pointed tip is above the soil. Refill around plant with soil, tap down to eliminate any big air pockets and water well.

While you are planting, keep the rest of the pips from drying out. Roll them in a moist dishtowel or place in a bucket of water for an hour or two.

Space your pips about 6” apart. The roots will spread underground and new shoots will grow, filling in the area between the plants added this spring.

During the Season

Keep the soil fairly moist w for the first few weeks, while your pips are settling in and developing a strong root network. After that, lily of the valley require about 1“of water a week, from rain or irrigation or a blend of the two.

At Season's End

Lily of the valley don’t need any special trimming or fertilizing in the autumn. Water if there’s a dry spell. Other than that, they’re easy.

Insider Tips

  1. Feel free to snip flower stems for indoor enjoyment. The sweet, pure fragrance is outstanding; used by perfumers for centuries.
  2. Where happy, lily of the valley spread and naturalize. If they begin to move into an area where you don’t want them, just dig and transplant. Or share with friends and neighbors.
  3. If hungry deer are a problem in your area, plant lily of the valley. These perennials aren’t favorite deer food.
  4. All parts of this plant are poisonous. Breathe deeply, but don't ingest.
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Success Snapshot

Light: Partial to moderate shade

Soil: Fertile and well drained

Depth: Plant pips at ground level

Water: Average moisture

Uses: Along foundations, groundcover and woodland gardens

Tip: Freshest, sweetest fragrance anywhere

GUIDE: Lily of the Vally Planting Guide

They Start Out Looking Like This: