Tiger Lily: Complete Grow and Care Guide

This is the complete care-guide for the Tiger Lily (Lilium lancifolium). The tiger lily is an easy-to-grow perennial that can be grown in USDA zones 3 to 8. It grows best in well-draining, organic soils and does not need to be pruned. This article includes transplanting, propagating, and where to buy the tiger lily...
Tiger lily flowers bloom open with long stamen emerging from its center

This is the complete care guide for the Tiger Lily (Lilium lancifolium).

This article covers everything you may need to know about tiger lily including the following:

    • Growing conditions
    • Where to plant
    • How to grow
    • How to transplant
    • How to propagate
    • And where to buy them
The tiger lily has nodding flowers with petals that open and curl back toward its stem

Tiger Lily Background

Lilies are a family or group of plants that have over 100 species including the tiger lily. Lilies are one of the most popular perennial flowers in the US and are grown for their vibrant and dramatic blooms.

The orange tiger lily is an ancient species that has been cultivated for centuries. It is believed to have originally grown in the semi-mountainous regions of Asia. Since then, it has spread across the globe and is now a favorite in the US.

A tiger lily plant can grow up to five feet but has the potential to grow higher in optimum conditions. This plant has a narrow spread of eight inches. Due to its height, it may need staking for additional support.

Its architectural leaves have a whorled growth pattern. The tiger lily has bright orange flowers with dark, chocolate-colored spots. Its flowers grow are trumpet-shaped and nodding. The flowers grow at the top of the stem. Each flower has several long stamen with dark anthers at the tips.

Growing Conditions

Zones 3 to 8

Before you begin your garden, it is always a good idea to figure out which zone you live in. A zone is determined by the average high and low temperatures in a particular area. The lower the number, the cooler the climate, the higher the number, the warmer. 

To learn what zone you live in, go to the homepage, type in your zip code and we will tell you what zone you live in– no sign up is required.

The tiger lily is perennial in most zones. From zone 3 to 8, tiger lilies will return yearly in spring, even if their vegetation dies off. They can be grown as annuals in colder climates.

Soil Conditions

The best soil for the tiger lily is well-drained, rich, and organic. It can tolerate other types of soil. It is averse to soils to excessive moisture and cannot tolerate long periods of drought.

Heavy clay or sandy soils can be amended by adding an inch of compost. This will improve soil structure and allow the lillies to grow more.

Where to plant

Tiger lilies can fit into a range of spots in the garden. Here are some things to consider before you plant your lily:

    • Tiger lilies grow best in full sun and can tolerate occasional shade
    • Because they are tall growers, they may need staking
    • Can be grown in a variety of spots, as long as the soil is rich and free-draining

Here are some specific locations in which the tiger lily can be planted: 

Back of Borders

These tall perennial lilies can grow in spaces that need extra height. An ideal spot is in the back of the borders because the lilies flower at the top of their stems. They can be planted near buildings or trellises to provide them with additional support and to add interest.

Tropical Gardens

The tiger lily is prized for its unique markings. It has orange petals with chocolate-colored species, hence the name ‘tiger lily.’ Its exotic appearance makes it one of the best flowers to add to a tropical-style garden. Its spikey, lateral-growing foliage creates a sense of depth and adds plenty of greenery.


If you have a small space or don’t have a garden, you can always plant a tiger lily in a container. The benefit is that you will be able to move it to a different location if it needs more or less sun. Also, they add height and depth to a space providing a sense of enclosure.

How to Grow a Tiger Lily

Perhaps the most exciting part of gardening, aside from buying plants, is actually planting the plants. The tiger lily is a low-maintenance plant that is self-sufficient in ideal conditions.


    • Plant bulbs in fall or in early spring after the ground thaws
    • Dig soil so that the top of the bulb will be 2 to 4 inches from the soil level
    • Plant the bulb with the tip facing up and the root bottom facing down
    • Cover with soil and water it thoroughly
    • Label where you planted the bulb so you don’t accidentally dig them up later

Bare Root or Containerized

  • Plant in spring or mid-fall
  • Dig soil big enough for the rootball, but not so deep that you will bury the leaves
  • Plant and backfill with soil
  • Water thoroughly
  • Fertilize the following year after the plant is established


  • If you plan on cutting the flowers off to dry or using them in flower arrangements, cut as little of the stem as possible. The tiger lilies flowers grow on the previous years’ foliage
  • Fertilize with 5-10-5 fertilizer in mid-fall to encourage the following year's blooming
  • In lieu of fertilizing, you can add an inch of compost to the soil in the fall
  • Deadhead the flowers to improve the appearance

How to Transplant a Tiger Lily

Transplanting tiger lily plants is easy. It should be done in early spring or, ideally, late fall. It should never be done in summer unless absolutely necessary. If transplanting in summer, so so in the evening or on a cooler, cloudy day to reduce plant stress.

    • Dig up the plant blub and roots
    • Keep as many of the roots intact as possible
    • Move the plant to a new location
    • Plant at the same depth as before
    • Backfill with soil
    • Water the plant so the roots can begin to adjust to its new setting

How to Propagate a Tiger Lily

The best way to propagate is by planting their seeds. To harvest, remove the dark seeds at the base of the leaves. Then, plant seeds individually at a depth of one to two inches into the garden or a small container.

You can also dig up the bulbs every few years and divide the bulbs. To do so, tease apart their roots without tearing them. Then replant allowing for more space between the bulbs or plant in a new location.

Tiger Lilies for Sale (with pictures)

The tiger lily is an uncommon plant and may be difficult to come by. Here at Tennessee Nursery, we sell bare-root tiger lilies that ship directly to you. You will receive 2 healthy and robust plants that have already had a great start.

Once ordered, we will ship them to you in 5-7 days. Once received plant the tiger lilies as soon as possible or place them in water until you are able to plant them.

Here is what we have, while supplies last:  

Tiger Lily

The tiger lily has thin, rubbery petals with long stamen

The one-of-a-kind Tiger Lily has some of the rarest markings of any perennial flower. Its exotic look can turn your outdoor space from a garden to an oasis. This plant is easy to take care of and easy to propagate. 

Zones: 3 to 8
Sun exposure: Full sun
Mature height: 3 to 5 feet
Water: Average 
Best for tropical-style gardens, borders, water’s edge, and woodland’s edge

Buy the Tiger Lily here


From the ideal growing conditions of the tiger lily to its unique features, we hope this article answered your questions. If you have any questions about our tiger lily, or any of our other flowers, feel free to reach out! We love talking plants with anyone who is interested.