Gardening Gift plants Houseplants

Houseplant of the Month for March 2019: The Lily

Lilies (Lilium) can make wonderful if temporary houseplants, adding beautiful color and often exquisite perfume to the décor. 

Forced lilies start to come onto the market in March and remain available until fall. Potted lilies are characterized by an upright stem bearing dense lanceolate leaves and a cluster of long buds at the top that soon open into exotic flowers. 

The choice of colors in potted lilies is extensive: from red, yellow, orange and pink through to bicolors and pastel shades.


Slip the pot into a cachepot for instant charm! Photo:

The lily is a bulbous plant that gave its name to an entire plant family: lily family (Liliaceae). There are more than 100 known species of lily. 

It’s believed lilies first evolved in China, spreading first throughout Asia, then, via the Caucasus, the Balkans and the Alps, to Europe, and, from Siberia, to the New World. They remain largely plants of temperate climates, although a few Asiatic species are tropical. 

In the wild, lilies usually grow in a woodland setting or on grasslands with their bulb completely out of sight underground, but a few tropical species are epiphytes and grow on tree branches.

Potted Lily Range

The range of potted lilies is growing. The best-known varieties come from the Asiatic Group, often with brightly colored but scentless flowers, and from the Oriental Group, with large, highly perfumed flowers, while the Trumpet Group contributes the popular and highly scented Easter Lily (L. longiflorum). In addition, there are double-flowered lilies in pink and white, without pollen and with a light sweet fragrance. There are also compact varieties in pink or white with rounded leaves and a light fragrance. 

What to Look for When Buying Potted Lilies 

Use lilies extravagantly: you deserve them! Photo:
  • Look for a large number of swelling buds per stem. The buds should not be open at the time of purchase but can show some color.
  • The bulb must be well rooted so that the stems are firmly supported. 
  • The plant should not have any dried-out buds or yellow leaves. 
  • If there is botrytis (gray mold) present on the flower or the foliage, the plant has been kept in damp conditions or has been given too much water. Such plants should be avoided.

Care Tips 

  • While indoors, lilies like a lot of light, but not bright sunlight.
  • The cooler the plant’s position, the longer the flowers will last (up to 2 to 3 weeks).
  • Water regularly—it’s better if the soil doesn’t dry out.
  • Removed wilted flowers. 
  • After its lavish flowering, the plant won’t bloom again indoors and the bulb can be planted in the garden for flowers in future years.

Potted lilies: they’re more than a throwaway gift plant. Try them and see!

Text based on a press release by

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

2 comments on “Houseplant of the Month for March 2019: The Lily

  1. Emma Murphy

    Love lilies as well but they don’t come into my house. Why? Because I have cats. It would be great to let your readers know that they are extremely toxic to cats, especially the Easter lily. I am a passionate gardener, but I love my furry creatures as well.

    • Thank you for mentioning this. Of course, very many houseplants are toxic to cats. It’s very fortunate that they rarely eat them!

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