Reasons Why Your Lilies Are Not Flowering

Last Updated on December 1, 2022 by Stephanie

Lilies dont bloom when the bulbs are small or are not yet mature, too crowded or planted in a shallow area, or if they are located in a shaded area. Certain lilies dont bloom when they are in a place where the Winter temperatures are too warm because they need a period of cold weather in order to flower.

Lilies need lots of sunshine and a consistent moisture in the soil and less fertilizer in order for proper flowering.

Continue reading to find an explanation of the reason your lilies havent been blooming and the most effective methods to make sure your lilies bloom well in the next season…

1. Size and Quality of Bulbs Can Affect Lily Flowering

If your lilies arent blooming for a year or more after the planting, it could be due to the size and age that the plant has.

It requires a lot of energy to get bulbs to bloom and even small bulbs dont have the power and resources needed to allow the lily to develop and show flowers within the first year.

Instead, they shift their focus away from flower displays, and instead focus on developing and establishing themselves in the new conditions of the soil. As the bulb develops and matures, its more likely to bloom the next year.

The larger, older bulbs have a greater chance of producing flowering lily since they are more energy-rich so that the plants can bloom in the spring.

When selecting bulbs for lilies, or any flowers in the gardens, it is crucial to be selective regarding the choice of bulbs, making sure you purchase the most healthiest and attractive bulbs to guarantee healthy blooms and a beautiful displays of flowers following the planting.

2. Over Crowded Bulbs Causes Fewer Flowers

The most common reason for the lilys inability to bloom is because the bulbs are too close to each other.

When the bulb is crowded and theyre competing against each with each other for water, nutrients, space and sunlight as the green leaves appear in the spring.

The best solution is to remove the bulbs and then plant them at a distance that is more suitable to ensure that each flowering lily is able to access all the necessary resources to flower.

Lilies in a vase

To maximize the chances of a blooming lily, plant every bulb should be at minimum 8 inches from each other. This will ensure that the lilies are in close proximity to display a nice display of flowers , and also have enough room to flourish.

If you lilies are not flowering and you know they are spaced too close together, dig them up (preferably in the Fall) and space them appropriately so they have enough time to adjust to their surroundings before growing and flowering in the Spring.

3. Shallow Planting of Lily Bulbs Reduces Flowering

The the depth to the point at which your lily bulbs are planted may affect the flowering. Bulbs planted too shallow may suffer damage from frost (which hinders lilies from flowering) while bulbs that are that are planted too deep may bloom later or not bloom in the first place.

The most effective method for planting bulbs for lily is to plant the bulbs at the depth of four times larger than the size of the bulb. This will protect the bulb in winter and lets the bulb develop strong and healthy in the spring.

4. Lilies Prefer Full Sun for Blooms

For the majority of lily types, six or more hours of sunshine each day is ideal to display flowers.

With an average of six hours of sunshine, the lily will have the energy required to flower, whereas lilies that are planted in shade, or even full shade tend to grow, but dont flower.

If your lily is located in an area that is shaded in your garden, you may want to cut off any limbs of trees that hang overhanging or other foliage around your lilies in order to let more sunlight.

If its not possible to increase the light level by cutting down other plants and trees, the best choice would be to hold off until fall when the lily foliage has died and then remove the bulbs to move them into an area with more sun in the garden.

Dont try transplanting the lilies during the spring or summer when they are they are growing, as this can cause shock to the transplant.

If you live in a sunny area, the lilies will be more energetic and should produce an impressive display of flowers.

Consider that in the full sun, there is a higher risk of drought, so its an ideal idea to cover the area around the lilies using compost in order to conserve water.

5. Lilies Require a Cold Winter to Display Flowers

One of the most popular kinds of lily is called the Asiatic one, which requires an extended period of cold in the winter to bloom in the spring (a process referred to by the term vernalization)

The reason for this is that the bulb has adjusted to a seasonal cycle of temperature changes, so it knows when it is time to start growing and bloom at the right time in the spring.

Asiatic Lilies are adapted to the pattern of temperature in temperate climates. If youre growing Asiatic Lilies in a warm climate instead of one that is temperate, then the winter may not get cold enough for them to undergo the vernalization process and the plant might not be able to grow properly and may will not bloom.

Theres not much that you could do (if you reside in an area with a high temperature) to encourage flowers from Asiatic bulb lily species if Winter isnt too cold, but rather cold. Therefore, it is recommended to choose the lily species that is suitable for your climate.

If you reside in a climate that is hot, the Easter lily species is the most reliable lily to blooming because it doesnt need vernalization. procedure that is known as vernalization.

6. Too Much Nitrogen causes Foliage, which results in Less Flowers

Lilies thrive in soil that is rich and full of nutrients. They also dont require fertilizer in order to bloom.

A lot of fertilizer (especially when it is rich in Nitrogen) will often result in plenty of greenery but it can also produce a lack of flowers, especially when it is applied prior to flowers begin to bloom in the springtime of early.

After youve applied fertilizer to your growing lily, there isnt anything that you could do in order to encourage flowering other than scaling back your use of any fertilizer and wait until the next year.

For lilies in poor soil or in potting soils where they have probably exhausted their nutrients, fertilizer that is applied following the flowering stage can prove beneficial.

After flowering, the green foliage of the lily stores nutrients and absorbing sunlight energy to store the bulb for next years flowers. Therefore, a balanced and all-purpose 10:10:10 NPK may be a good choice or an organic tomato feed that is rich in potassium that will help in blooms and the development of roots.

7. Drought Can Affect Lilies Blooming

Lilies require a balance of moisture that is wet, but not spongy or boggy.

When the soil not draining (because clay soil or boggy zones) it could cause bulb of your plants to decay in the soil, particularly during winter.

If the soil is too dry, then bulbs dont have enough moisture to flourish and bloom properly.

The soil may become too dry to lilies due to:

  • Of well-draining sandy soil that drains quickly and doesnt hold any moisture.
  • Sunlight that is direct on the soil can dry the soil out.
  • Tree roots are competing with bulbs for water.

To get the best level of moisture to successfully blooming lilies, you must place them into soil which has been amended by mulch or leaves mould.

The compost and the leaf mould possess the ability to store moisture , but they also have a porous structure which lets excess water be able to drain away from the bulbs , so they dont sit in a saturated soil, which is the perfect conditions for growing the lilies.

A compost mulch that is applied in the spring around the Lilies can help retain the moisture and enhance the soils structure and nutrient profile to ensure that the lilies do not suffer from drought.

It is recommended to give the ground a thorough soak in the event of an absence of rain. examine the soil at a fingers depth to determine if there is the presence of moisture. In the event that your soil appears to be beginning to dry, sprinkle water on it, but If its still moist as the soil is retaining water effectively, then you do not need to add irrigation.

If the soil is moist and consistent (yet well-drained to prevent the bulbs of the lilies from becoming rotten) the lilies will bloom in the next year.

8. Removing Leaves From Lilies Too Early Reduces Next Years Flowers

In tidy and neat formal gardens, some gardeners might remove the leaves of the lily once it has flowered, rather than just wait for the leaves to change to brown and yellow in the fall.

If you remove the leaves of lilies following blooming, they will not store energy in the bulb to be used in the next Spring, so they wont be able to display flowers.

Lily leaves are alive after the flowering process has ended and they make use of the remainder of summer and fall to soak in nutrients and get sunlight energy that will be used to power the next seasons development and the display of flowers.

It is recommended waiting until leaves turn brown or yellow at the end of Autumn before trimming the foliage in order to encourage blooming of the lilies.

Key Takeaways:

  • The reason why lilies arent blooming is usually due to bulbs being too small, crowded or in a shallow position. Lack of sunshine, drought, too many fertilizers and mild winter temperatures can also hinder flowering.
  • The removal of leaves following blooming could prevent the lilies from blooming again the next year. The leaves should be placed located in a sunny area to store energy in the bulb for the next years flowering.
  • Lilies can be planted in full sun and with a good compost (to aid in avoiding drought) and place the bulbs in a suitable space. Asiatic Lilies like a cold winter to bloom, whereas Easter flowers are best to grow and bloom in areas with mild Winter temperatures.
  • Lilies dont always bloom in the first year , especially when the bulbs arent mature or have transplant shock. They usually bloom better next year.


Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)