Did you know that there are more than 300 different varieties of lily? That’s a staggering number and what’s great for green-fingered enthusiasts is that there is a type of lily that appeals to everyone. But the key to successful lily growing is planting at the right time of year. Fortunately, lilies can be planted at any time during the autumn, winter and even in the early spring so they’re pretty versatile. But if you aren’t quite ready to plant yet then you will need to make sure that you have somewhere to store the lilies where they will remain in the best condition. If the area that you live in doesn’t freeze over the winter, then it’s perfectly acceptable to leave the bulbs in the ground as no harm will come to them. However, if there’s a chance that frost will damage the bulbs, then it’s essential to find somewhere appropriate to store them. In this guide, we will be looking at how to store lily bulbs to protect them until you’re ready to plant.

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What Are Lilies?

Lilies are large, fragrant flowers that are highly prized by both horticulturists and hobbyists alike. There are generally two types of lilies, these are the Asiatic and Oriental lilies, and both can be grown by gardeners at home. The blooms have large trumpet-shaped flowers and come in a variety of beautiful colours including white, pink, yellow, orange and red. What’s interesting about lilies is that the various colours are said to symbolise different things, so they’re often given as gifts to show emotions and feelings or on special occasions.

Can Lily Bulbs Stay in Pots UK?

Yes, lily bulbs can be left in pots in the UK but it is good practice to bring the pots inside for winter. Lily bulbs will not cope with freezing temperatures so if you have lilies in pots, bring them inside around the middle of October and then get them back outside after the last frost.

Lily Bulbs
Lily Bulbs

How To Store Lily Bulbs

If there’s any danger of frost over the winter, you will need to remove any bulbs from the ground before allowing them to dry. You will then store them in a moss-filled cardboard box. Follow our easy step-by-step guide to ensure correct lily bulb storage.

What You Need

  • Hand Trowel
  • Water
  • Fungicide (optional)
  • Peat moss
  • Cardboard box or paper bag

1. Lift

You will need to ensure that you remove the lily bulbs from the soil before the first frost sets in. It’s important to allow the foliage to die back before you take them out. You can remove the bulbs by gently removing the soil using a hand shovel and carefully taking them from the ground.

2. Clean

Once the bulbs are out of the ground, you will need to rinse any excess soil from them using fresh, clean water. This is also a good time to check the bulbs over for signs of mould or damage. If you notice any that are unusable, discard these.

3. Dry

When you have a selection of clean, healthy bulbs, it’s important to let them dry off for a few days. Place them somewhere cool and dark during this time.

4. Apply Light Fungicide (Optional)

If you want to, when the bulbs are completely dried out, you can spray them with a little fungicide, but this isn’t an essential step.

If you have salvaged bulbs that have minor signs of rot or mould, then we would advise taking this step to prevent further deterioration.

5. Store

Now you will need to place your lily bulbs into a cardboard box or paper bag. There should be a good amount of peat moss inside the container as well. It is possible to store the bulbs in containers made from other materials, but cardboard and paper offer the best breathability which will prevent moisture from building up and causing problems with mould.

6. Plant

When the winter is over and you are ready to plant the bulbs, we would suggest waiting until spring has well and truly set in. If you wish to plant before this then it’s a good idea to plant them in containers and ensure that the soil is very well-drained.


Lilies are stunning plants with huge, trumpet-shaped flowers that are popular in almost every culture. They’re also one of the favourites to grow as a hobby gardener and being perennials, they will reliably bloom year after year. However, if you live in a cool climate, the winter frost could damage the bulbs so we would suggest storing them for protection and replanting in the spring. If you’ve been wondering how to store lily bulbs then the good news is that it’s as simple as removing them from the ground and storing them in breathable, moss-filled containers. That’s really all there is to it!

How to store lily bulbs infographic

Garden Doctor Tips

“Wait until spring once the ground has thawed before planting again!”

“A light application of fungicide can prevent any mould from appearing whilst in storage – this is entirely up to you!”

“Ensure that you leave the plant in the ground until the foliage dies back on its own. The bulb needs its leaves for photosynthesis!”

“When storing bulbs for winter, check on them every 4-6 weeks to make sure none of them have rotted, if any have, throw them away immediately!”

Frequently Asked Questions

What month do you plant lily bulbs?

Plant Lily bulbs in the Spring, after the last frost. They like a lot of sun, so find a spot where they will get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight each day.

Can you leave lily bulbs in the ground over winter?

The bulbs can be left in the ground, but it’s important to remember that they will not survive a heavy frost. So, if you get heavy frost in your area, you’ll need to dig them up and store them indoors until the weather warms up again.

Do all lily bulbs multiply?

Yes, over time lilies will multiply. Lily bulbs will produce new bulbs on top of the old bulb and eventually, you’ll have a clump of lilies. To propagate them, you can divide the bulbs up in the spring before they start to grow.


Trevor Wright is not just a seasoned horticulturist; he’s the esteemed Garden Doctor. With a BSc in Horticulture and years of hands-on experience in the soil, Trevor has become a trusted mentor for all things gardening. As the founder of Garden Doctor, he’s committed to clarifying the intricacies of gardening, offering straightforward advice that’s rooted in years of practice. His writing is a garden of how-tos, savvy insights, and comprehensive guides that enable individuals to nurture and grow their garden dreams. When he’s not knee-deep in garden beds, Trevor is at his keyboard passing on his green-thumbed wisdom to budding gardeners, ensuring that the legacy of sustainable and joyful gardening blossoms far and wide.

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