Madonna lily

Family: Liliaceae
Botanical name: Lilium candidum

Flower color: pure white

Flowering period: July – August

Average plant height: 40 inches

Spacing between bulbs: 8 inches

Type of bulb: corm

Light requirements: full sun

Landscape uses: borders, beds with perennial plants, and as cut flowers


This lily has been cultivated for centuries. Its original habitat, which might be Asia Minor, is still unknown. It is even claimed that this lily which was cultivated in cloister gardens of the Middle Ages, was the very first flower to be used for cutting purposes. Obviously, it was used as a decoration in churches. This lily must be planted in September, being very careful to avoid damaging its roots. Other lilies, such as the familiar Asiatic and Oriental hybrids can be planted either in the fall or in the spring, although spring is usually preferred.

Special planting instructions

As opposed to the planting directions for other lilies, these bulbs must be planted so that a little more than 1 inch of soil covers the nose of the bulb. This lily requires a rich, rapidly draining, calcium-rich soil (pH 7). The planting location must receive plenty of light, but too much direct sun should be avoided. A good suggestion here may be to plant ground cover plants along with the bulbs. The bulbs can remain in the same location year after year and thus act as perennial plants. The dazzling white flowers stand at right angles to the flower stem and smell absolutely wonderful. Each flower stem can provide 10 to 20 flowers. The flowers have actually been used to produce perfumes, and this lily has long been regarded as a medicinal plant. It makes an excellent cut flower.