Oriental Tree Lily Care: Information On Growing Tree Lily Bulbs

Oriental Tree Lily Bulbs
Tree lily
(Image credit: Laura Sturms via Nikki Tilley)

Oriental tree lilies are a hybrid cross between Asiatic and Oriental lilies. These hardy perennials share the best traits of both species—big, beautiful blooms, vibrant color, and rich, sweet fragrance. Keep reading to learn more tree lily info.

What is a Tree Lily?

Growing tree lilies are tall and the stalks are large but, in spite of the name, they are not trees; they are herbaceous (non-woody) plants that die down at the end of each growing season. Average height of a tree lily is 4 feet (1 m.), although some varieties may reach heights of 5 to 6 feet (1.5 to 2 m.) and sometimes more. The plant is available in bold colors such as red, gold, and burgundy, as well as pastel shades of peach, pink, pale yellow, and white.

Growing Tree Lilies

Tree lilies require similar growing conditions as most other lilies in the garden -- well-drained soil and full or partial sunlight. The plant grows in USDA plant hardiness zones 4 through 8, and may tolerate warmer climates in zones 9 and 10. Plant tree lily bulbs in autumn for blooms the following summer. Plant the bulbs 10 to 12 inches (25-31 cm.) deep and allow 8 to 12 inches (20-31 cm.) between each bulb. Water the bulbs deeply after planting.

Oriental Tree Lily Care

Water your tree lilies regularly throughout the growing season. The soil should not be soggy, but it should never be completely dry. Tree lilies generally require no fertilizer, however, if the soil is poor, you can feed the plant a balanced garden fertilizer when shoots emerge in spring, and again about a month later. If you prefer, you can use a slow-release fertilizer early in the growing season. Withhold water when the blooms die but leave the foliage in place until they turn yellow and are easy to pull. Never pull the leaves if they are still attached to the bulb because the foliage absorbs energy from the sun that nourishes the bulbs for the next year's blooms. Tree lilies are cold hardy, but if you live in a chilly climate, a thin layer of mulch will protect the new shoots from spring frost. Limit mulch to 3 inches (8 cm.) or less; a thicker layer attracts hungry slugs.

Tree lily vs. Orienpets

While often referred to as Orienpets, there are slight differences in the these lily plant varieties. Oriental tree lily plants, as previously stated, are an Asiatic and Oriental lily hybrid. Orienpet lilies, also known as OT lilies, are a cross between oriental and trumpet lily types. Then there is the Asiapet lily, which is a cross between an Asiatic and trumpet lily.

Mary H. Dyer

A Credentialed Garden Writer, Mary H. Dyer was with Gardening Know How in the very beginning, publishing articles as early as 2007.