Can I Plant A Potted Lily Outside? ( In 6 Easy Steps )

Spread the love

Lilies tend to grow relatively well in pots and in the garden as well, however, there are certain types of lilies that will definitely need to be potted. Lilies that are outside the preferred hardiness zone should be grown either in pots or simply dug up in autumn if you grow them in your garden. Most lilies tend to be relatively hardy and they also need a period of cold in order to flower the next year.

If you don’t have access to a greenhouse or cold frame, you can utilize a cool garden shed, garage, or basement for overwintering your potted lily plants. When the weather allows, you can place them outside in a sunny to partially sunny spot. In case of frost, it’s advisable to temporarily bring the potted lilies indoors until the threat has passed.

Once you have transplanted your potted lilies outside then you have to fertilize them, my personal recommendation is to use a foliar fertilizer, this way you are only fertilizing the lilies and not the surrounding plants which might outcompete the lilies Click here to check it out on

Far too often when people plant potted lilies outside they notice that the plant dies back a bit, and in the worst-case scenario it never comes back. There are numerous reasons why this can happen, especially if the potted lily has been grown indoors. Planting indoor potted lilies outside is possible, but the transplant shock for the plant will be massive, and not all lilies will be able to survive it.

There are a couple of things that you can do to mitigate this transplant shock, and with some careful preparations, your potted lilies will thrive outside as well. If you want to transplant your lilies in the spring then check out my recent article Can I Transplant Lilies In The Spring? ( Top 7 Tips ).

Can I Plant A Potted Lily Outside?

Yes, you can plant a potted lily outside. Potted lilies are often sold as container plants, but they can be successfully transplanted into the ground to grow and bloom in your garden. When planting a potted lily outside, choose a location that receives ample sunlight and has well-draining soil. Prepare the planting hole by loosening the soil and adding compost or organic matter to improve its fertility. Carefully remove the lily from its pot, taking care not to damage the roots.

Place the lily in the prepared hole, making sure it is positioned at the same depth as it was in the pot. Backfill the hole with soil, firming it gently around the plant. Water the newly planted lily thoroughly to settle the soil and provide initial moisture. Continue to water the lily regularly, especially during dry periods, and provide support if needed as the plant grows.

Planting A Potted Lily Outside Might Not Result In Flowers The Current Year

We all grow our lilies for their flowers, but you will have to wait until the potted lilies planted outside will flower again. Even if your potted lilies have already flowered in the previous years, it is extremely unlikely that they will flower in the year when you have transplanted them from the pot to the garden. It will take anywhere between 1-2 years until the lilies will flower again in the garden.

Some people try to trick the lilies and they plant them outside while they are flowering, however, this does more harm than good. Once lilies have started to flower and are transplanted they will try to focus on keeping the flowers rather than growing roots or absorbing nutrients for the bulbs, and in the long run, this might severely weaken the plant.

Potted Lilies Transplanted Outside Will Struggle For A Couple Of Months

In every garden it is the survival of the fittest, there is a lot of competition for sunlight, nutrients, and space. Lilies are not that fast-growing and they can easily be outcompeted by common weeds. No matter how well you do the transplant, how often you water them, or how well you fertilize, the lilies will simply struggle for the first couple of months. The indoor, potted environment is completely different from the environment outdoors. If you want to know what to do with your lilies after they have flowered then check out my recent article What To Do When Lilies Have Finished Flowering? ( Top 6 Chores ).

Transplant Potted Lilies Outdoors In The Autumn Or Spring

When you actually transplant the potted lilies will make a big difference in the long run. Generally speaking, the best time to transplant lilies outside is in the autumn, given that the lilies are hardy in your area. If the lilies are not hardy in your area and you have to dig them up in the autumn, then the best time to transplant them outside is in the spring. Hardy lilies benefit greatly from being transplanted in the autumn as they do need a period of cold exposure.

On the other hand, you can also transplant the potted lilies outside during the summer, but this comes with its challenges, for more information check out my recent article Can I Transplant Lilies In Summer? ( Top 8 Precautions To Take ).

Water The Potted Lily The Day Before The Transplant

It is extremely important to water the lilies the day before you actually transplant them outside, watering them the same day will simply not cut it. By doing this you allow the lily bulbs to absorb as much water as they can, and this will probably be the last time you can really saturate the lily bulbs with water. Once you have made the transplant outdoors you should water the bulbs once more, although you can skip this part if you have heavy clay soil.

The area where you plant the potted lilies should have well-draining soil as lilies are prone to bulb rot. If you do not have well-draining soil then amend the soil with some well-draining potting mix. Luckily lilies are relatively shallow-rooted plants so you won’t have to dig too deep.

Protect The Lilies From Pests Once Transplanted Outside

You probably never noticed any pest problem on your lilies if you have grown them indoors, but once you transplant them outside you will definitely notice. Lilies can be decimated by a lot of pests, from aphids, red lily beetles, leatherjackets, slugs, snails to deer and rabbits. If you have deer in your area you will be inviting them over once the lilies are in full bloom, so either fence them in or use a deer repellant.

Generally speaking, the most common pests that you will have to fight off will be slugs, snails, and red lily beetles. Red lily beetles can suck the life out of the lilies and slugs and snails will munch on the lilies if they are weak or too stressed out. Just keep an eye out on your lilies for the first couple of weeks and if you notice any damage from pests then address the issue as fast as possible.

Fertilize The Lilies After The Transplant

If you have been growing your lilies in pots and you have also used fertilizers then once you transplant them outside you will need to fertilize again. Using fertilizers in a pot and in the garden are two different things, in the pot, the lilies are the only ones absorbing the fertilizer. In the garden, every single plant that accesses the fertilizer will use it, and oftentimes weeds and established plants will consume most of the fertilizer even before the newly transplanted lily has a chance to absorb them.

Most people will recommend in this case a slow release fertilizer, however as I have mentioned before odds are that the lilies will not be able to access them before they are absorbed by other plants. In this case, you should really focus on fertilizing the lilies, and not all of the plants in the area. For this, I highly recommend a foliar fertilizer as you can simply spray it on the lilies which means that the nutrients will be used by the lilies and not some random plant nearby.

Key Takeaways

  • Yes, you can plant a potted lily outside, preferably in the spring or autumn, just keep in mind that it might not flower in the first year.
  • You might find that the potted lilies once transplanted outside will struggle for a couple of weeks.
  • You can plant potted lilies outside, but you are not guaranteed that they will flower in the current year. The ideal period for transplanting potted lilies outside is in the autumn, if the lilies are not hardy in your zone and you need to dig them up in the winter then you should transplant them in the spring. Planting potted lilies outside exposes them to different diseases, competition from other plants, and pests like slugs, snails, and red lily beetles.