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How to Grow and Care for Lily of the Valley Flowers

Your Complete Guide to Lily of the Valley Care and Propagation – Lily of the valley, scientifically known as Convallaria majalis, is a beloved addition to spring gardens due to its fragrant, bell-shaped flowers. Thriving in the northern temperate zones, it is often used as a ground cover, spreading quickly to form lush carpets of greenery and petite blooms.

Quick Facts about Lily of the Valley

  • Botanical Name: Convallaria majalis
  • Height: 6-12 inches (15-30 cm)
  • Spread: 6-12 inches (15-30 cm)
  • Sun Exposure: Part Shade, Full Shade
  • Soil Requirements: Highly Adaptable
  • Hardiness Zones: USDA Zones 3-8
  • When to Plant: Fall

Characteristics of Lily of the Valley

Lily of the valley features stems adorned with tiny white, nodding bell-shaped flowers that emit a sweet fragrance. The medium-bright green leaves are lance-shaped, measuring 4 to 8 inches (10 to 20 cm) in height and 3 to 5 inches (7.5 to 12.5 cm) in width. This plant thrives in moist environments, forming a spreading mass that produces red seed pods after flowering, adding to its visual appeal even post-bloom.

Planting Lily of the Valley

When to Plant

For optimal growth, lily of the valley should be planted in the fall. The cool weather during this time supports the development of a strong root system, while the winter dormancy period prepares the plants for a vigorous start in spring.

Where to Plant

Although lily of the valley is adaptable, it can become invasive. To control its spread, consider planting it in containers. Before planting, consult your local agricultural extension office to ensure there are no restrictions on growing this plant in your area.

Care Requirements

Water and Light

Lily of the valley thrives in consistently moist soil. In dry conditions, supplemental watering may be necessary. Mulching helps retain moisture and keep roots cool during hot weather. The plant prefers shaded areas with dappled light, making it ideal for planting under trees or along structures.

Propagation and Division

To maintain healthy growth and bloom production, lily of the valley needs periodic division. The plant spreads via underground rhizomes known as “pips,” which can be separated and replanted. The best time for division is in late fall, around November or December.

Problems, Pests, and Diseases

Lily of the valley is generally pest-resistant, though aphids and spider mites may occasionally appear. Most infestations are manageable with standard treatments. Leaf spot or blotch can affect the plant’s foliage, but these issues are usually minor.


All parts of lily of the valley are highly toxic. Exercise caution when planting in areas accessible to children and pets, as ingestion can be extremely harmful or even fatal.

Varieties of Lily of the Valley

While the common white-flowered lily of the valley is widely available, there are several other varieties worth exploring:

  • Convallaria majalis ‘Albostriata’: Features dark leaves with white to cream stripes.
  • ‘Aureomarginata’: Has leaves edged with cream to yellow.
  • ‘Rosea’: A pink variety that is less vigorous but equally beautiful.
  • Convallaria majuscule ‘Greene’: A North American native ideal for naturalistic ground covers.


Lily of the valley is a low-maintenance plant that prefers partial shade and moist soil but can adapt to various conditions. With proper care and attention, it will reward you with a beautiful and fragrant spring display. Just remember its toxicity and plant it in safe locations away from children and pets.

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