Growing Lilium candidum (Madonna Lily)

Latin Name Pronunciation: lil'-ee-um kan'-dih-dum

Madonna Lilies (Lilium candidum) are among the oldest ornamental plants, having been in cultivation for an astonishing 3,000 years. The plant's needs are simple, but a bit different from most other Lilies.

Plant bulbs in full sun or partial shade (Madonna Lily seems to grow best where it receives protection from the midday sun) and rich, well-drained soil with a pH close to neutral. Bulbs thrive in alkaline soil; add lime at planting time if your soil is extremely acid. (Even better, if you expect to plant bulbs in the fall, add lime to their site ahead of time to allow it to leach into the soil.)

Plant bulbs as soon as they arrive, covering the tops with just 1 in. of soil. This is much more shallow than you'd plant other types of Lilies. Space bulbs 10-12 in. apart. Water thoroughly after planting and keep the soil evenly moist but not soggy. The bulbs will soon send up a tuft of leaves as they set roots for winter. In the Deep South, L. candidum generally blooms in spring and goes dormant in the heat of summer, producing new foliage again in fall.