What To Do When Lilies Have Finished Flowering? ( Top 6 Chores )

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There is a lot of confusion about what to do after lilies flower, some outright chop the plant to the ground while others simply leave it to decay naturally. Once the flowers of the lilies have shriveled and dried up they will produce seed heads, some people like how they look while others remove them. The big question you have to answer for yourself is if you want an aesthetically pleasing garden or a healthy one, as oftentimes an aesthetically pleasing garden is not always good for the plants.

After your lilies have flowered, cut off the faded flower heads and let the foliage die back naturally. Avoid cutting the stem until it turns hollow and brown. This helps nourish the bulb for next year’s blooming.

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Lilies tend to flower for 2-3 weeks every year, some do in summer while others do in the late summer. If you are doing regular maintenance in your garden then it is extremely important to know what kind of lilies you actually have, as a lot of beginner gardeners tend to cut off lily plants that have not even had the chance to flower yet. Ideally, you should wait and see when your lilies flower, as the flowering period is not set in stone, and oftentimes this flowering period can be delayed due to numerous reasons.

Most types of lilies will have a dormancy period during the winter, and if the plant doesn’t have enough stored nutrients and energy then odds are that the plant might not survive the winter, and even if it does then its growth and flowering will be significantly stunted. One of the reasons why lilies do not flower is due to improper care after they have flowered, for more information check out my recent article Why Are My Lilies Not Flowering? ( Top 14 Reasons ).

What To Do When Lilies Have Finished Flowering?

When lilies have finished flowering, it is essential to provide them with proper care to ensure their health and encourage future blooms. Start by removing the spent flowers and any developing seed pods, as this will prevent the plant from directing energy towards seed production. Leave the foliage intact as it continues to gather sunlight and nourish the bulb. Water the lilies regularly, especially during dry spells, but avoid overwatering, as lilies prefer well-drained soil.

Apply a balanced fertilizer or compost around the plants to provide them with necessary nutrients. As the growing season comes to an end, allow the foliage to naturally die back. This process enables the bulbs to store energy for next year’s growth. If desired, you can carefully dig up and divide the lily bulbs every few years to maintain their vigor. Store the bulbs in a cool, dry place until it’s time for replanting.

Deadhead The Spent Lily Flowers

One of the best things that you can do is to simply remove the spent lily flowers, and simply throw them on your compost pile. Once the lily flowers are spent and start to dry up, the plant will start focusing on producing seed heads. These seed heads need a lot of energy to be produced, so by removing the spent flowers and the seed heads the plant will have only two options, either use its excess energy for new flowers or simply store it for next year.

In addition to this, if your lilies are in full bloom but some of the flowers are damaged then you should remove these as well. With some luck, new flowers will start appearing in a couple of days and this will actually extend the flowering period of your lilies. If your lilies are flopping over then check out my recent article Why Do Plants Flop Over? ( Top 9 Reasons ).

Do Not Cut The Lilies Down To The Ground

A lot of people make the big mistake of simply cutting down their lilies right to the ground after they have flowered. In most cases, this will stunt the growth of the plant, and instead of having dozens of new lily flowers next year, you might only get a few of them. After the lily plant has flowered it will start focusing on producing seed heads and harvesting as much nutrients and energy as it can which will be stored for the next year.

If you have cut down the spent flowers and removed the seed heads then the plant will focus on gathering as many nutrients as it can which will be stored in the bulb. This not only ensures the survival of the plant until next year but will allow the bulb to produce smaller bulbs as well.

Leave The Lily Plant To Die Back Naturally

If you want a more hands-off approach then you can simply let the lily plants die back naturally, although you should still remove the spent flowers and seed heads. As the lily plant is preparing for winter it will absorb a lot of nutrients all made possible with the help of its leaves. Once the bulb has enough stored energy and nutrients the plant will slowly absorb the nutrients out of its leaves and of the stem.

At this point, the leaves and the stem of the plant will start to brown and when the process is complete they will simply dry out completely. The leaves and the stem of the lily plants contain a lot of nutrients and allowing the plant to reabsorb these nutrients is usually a good idea. Once the stem of the plant is dried out, you can simply cut it back to the ground. If you want to know everything about Oriental Lilies then check out my recent article Oriental Lily ( Oriental Hybrid Lilies ).

Mulch The Lilies

Lilies as most plants do benefit greatly from a thick layer of mulch, the mulch should be organic mulch, that decays relatively fast. Hay, straw, and compost will usually break down in a matter of months and will keep the lily bulbs covered during the winter. I would not recommend using wood chips as mulch, as it takes years for them to break down, but they do protect the lily bulb from the cold during the winter.

Ideally, you should wait for the lily plant to decay naturally, then cut it back to the ground and only then cover it with a thick layer of mulch.

Fertilize The Lilies

The best times to fertilize lilies are before and after they have flowered. The main reason why you should fertilize your lilies after they have flowered is that once the plant has stopped flowering it will focus its energy on gathering nutrients for the next year and producing seed heads. As you have already removed the seed head, the plant will focus only on gathering and storing nutrients for the next year.

The next year the plant will be even stronger, and it will have a lot easier time creating small bulbs around the main bulb. These smaller bulbs can be easily divided and either replanted in another location or you can leave it to fill in the gaps in your garden.

Dig Up And Store The Lily Bulbs

Some people tend to dig up their lily bulbs as not all lilies will survive the winter, this is why you should know the specific hardiness zone of your lilies. However, when you actually dig up and store the lily bulbs is extremely important, do it too soon and you are doing more harm than good. Ideally, you should wait until the stem of the plant starts decaying or has completely turned brown, but make sure that the outside temperatures are not below freezing.

If the outside temperatures start to drop below freezing and the stem of the plant is still green then you have to dig up the bulbs in order to protect them from the frost. Just keep in mind that you only have to dig up and store your lilies if they are not hardy in your zone.

Key Takeaways

  • Once your lilies have finished flowering you should remove the spent flowers and the seed heads. Only cut down the plant to the ground once the stem and the leaves of the lily plant have started to turn brown. Once you have cut it to the ground you should place a thick layer of mulch on it in order to protect it from the cold winter and once the mulch starts to decay it will feed the lily bulb with nutrients providing beautiful flowers the next year.
  • Allow the lily plant to gather nutrients and minerals after it has flowered, this is extremely important for the survival of the lily bulb during the winter.
  • Only cut the lily plant back to the ground once the stem and the leaves of the plant have turned brown.