Complete Asiatic Lily Guide

11 Dec 2021

The Asiatic lily is a vibrant, brightly colored plant with stunning blooms. If you’re apprehensive about caring for a lily then this is the perfect one to grow. It is not a finicky houseplant and it is relatively easy to care for.

We’ll discuss its key characteristics, ultimate care requirements, and how to grow it. Finally, we will tell you how to revive your houseplant.

Main Features

Unlike the peace lily, this true lily belongs to the Liliaceae family and is part of the Lilium species. It’s also a herbaceous perennial and bulb that is native to Japan and China.

It blooms amazing flowers in an array of colors such as orange, golden yellow, red, white, and pink. Depending on its species it may even have intricate speckles and patterns on its petals. The blossoms, however, do not produce a strong fragrance.

This lily adds a touch of elegance to any room it’s in, and it has upward-facing, trumpet-shaped flowers. Its botanical name is Lilium asiatica, but it goes by plenty of other names depending on its variation.

Types of Asiatic Lilies

There are tons of different Asiatic lilies, each with its own unique look and colorful blooms.

  • ‘Tiny rocket’: This dwarf lily was developed in the Netherlands, and it blooms bright, two-toned red blossoms.
  • ‘Black out’: These dark red petals have a black heart and center. Typically, these Asiatic lilies blossom 4 – 5 flowers per stem.
  • ‘Black spider’: This variation blooms beautiful creamy-white flowers with burgundy speckles and a black center.
  • ‘Strawberry custard’: This type of Lilium asiatica is a dwarf lily with creamy white centers that transforms into a strawberry-pink color at the top of the petal.
  • ‘Tiny double you’: The interesting thing about this variation is that it has a strong fragrance, unlike other Asiatic lilies, and it has bright orange petals.
  • ‘Tiger babies’: The light orange petals have tiny specks of dark brown. This pattern resembles tiger stripes, hence its name ‘Tiger babies’.
  • ‘Brunello’: These vibrant orange bowl-shaped blossoms have lush, green foliage. They can flower an incredible 12 blooms per stem.
  • ‘Fire king’: Its petals are an orange-reddish color with stunning purple freckles.
  • ‘King Pete’: This type of Asiatic lily has noticeably wide-opening flowers. Each flower is a bold yellow color with an orange heart and brown freckles.
  • ‘Red twin’: The double Asiatic lily does not produce any pollen. You can recognize it as these orange petals have a dark red heart.

Fun fact: Did you know that there are over 90 unique species of lilies?

What Do They Look Like?

The most identifiable characteristic of Lilium asiatica is that it has upward-facing blossoms. These tubular, trumpet-shaped flowers come in a range of beautiful colors with spots and speckles.

They spread out relatively fast and each bloom is sprouted from waxy, green stems. It is also accompanied by long, mid-green foliage.

Fun fact: This lily symbolizes marriage and purity. In many Western cultures, you will see stunning white Asiatic lilies at weddings.

How Tall Do They Grow?

The lily can reach heights of up to 15 to 24 inches (38 – 61cm), and it can grow a spread of 12 to 18 inches (30 – 46cm). The size of your houseplant depends on the care it receives, as the better the care the larger the plant is likely to grow.

How Fast Do They Grow?

The Asiatic lily grows moderately fast and produces new bulbs each year. It can grow 2 to 4 inches (5 – 10cm) taller per year.

How Long Do They Live?

When the lily is optimally cared for, you can have a thriving houseplant for up to 10 years. If it receives inadequate care then it may not survive for as long as this, so it’s important to feed and water it well.

Are They Poisonous to Dogs, Cats, and Humans?

The Lilium asiatica is toxic to both people and pets. It affects cats, dogs, and humans slightly differently, so we’ll discuss the varying symptoms that the pets or person may face.

Cat’s Symptoms

This plant is so toxic to cats that even the water in the vase is poisonous. The sap is highly toxic when a cat ingests it, and we’ll list the symptoms below.

  • Liver failure
  • Nephrotoxicity
  • Irregular heartbeat
  • Vomiting
  • Diarrhea
  • Decreased urination

If your cat is left untreated then the sap can even cause your feline friend to die.

Dog’s Symptoms

The sap is mildly toxic to dogs and it may experience vomiting, diarrhea, and drooling. If your little friend comes into contact with the sap then it may develop a rash too.

If either your cat or dog comes into contact with the sap or ingests it, then make sure to contact your veterinarian immediately.

People’s Symptoms

The lily’s sap can cause blisters to form in your mouth or on your skin. When you ingest it, your throat may become swollen and you’ll experience nausea, diarrhea, and headaches.

If any of these symptoms persist then make sure to seek professional medical advice as soon as possible.

Asiatic lily - size, lifespan, toxicity, growth speed (infographics)

Asiatic Lily Care

It is vital that the Asiatic lily receives all of the care it needs. Although it isn’t a fussy houseplant, it still requires some good old-fashioned TLC.

We’ll discuss how to water, prune and repot it, along with the perfect environmental conditions for your houseplant.

How Often to Water It

It requires an average amount of water to maintain evenly moist soil, which is the same when it comes to the swiss cheese plant. Typically, you should water your lily 2 to 3 times a week depending on weather conditions.

Keep in mind that newly planted lilies will need to be watered 5 days a week until their roots have established themselves.

Once it is winter, you can water it 1 to 2 times a week in order to avoid overwatering the plant. You will need to make sure that the soil is not left to dry out for too long or that it isn’t too soggy.

Watering Methods

There are two watering methods that are optimal for this lily. You can water it with a typical watering can from the top of the plant, but make sure that you don’t directly water its leaves or flowers.

When watering from the bottom, place the pot in a container or sink with a few inches of water. Leave it for 20 minutes so that its roots can soak up all of the water needed.


It is important that the Asiatic lily is planted in well-draining soil. The container must also have 3 to 5 drainage holes in order for excess water to flow out.

A good drainage system is vital to avoid fungal infections and diseases because overly moist soil is detrimental to the plant’s health.

How to Prune It

You will need to trim back dead foliage or deadhead its blooms to promote healthy growth or maintain a pristine plant. When pruning its foliage you can simply snip off the leaves or stem with a clean pair of scissors.

It is important that you prune and deadhead a plant during the spring or summertime as new growth is too tender to survive the winter chill.

Follow the steps below to prune the foliage:

  1. Take out your pair of pruners and cut back brown leaves.
  2. If the entire stalk is brown or yellow, then simply snip the whole stalk off. When cutting off the stalk, you’ll need to cut it down to the soil line.
  3. Water the plant thoroughly until the water drains out.

How to Deadhead It

Once the flowers begin to look limp or wilt then you’ll need to remove the bloom to maintain a houseplant’s appearance and health.

Follow the step-by-step guide below:

  1. Identify the stem from which the bloom sprouted.
  2. Use a sharp blade to cut the stem. Make sure that you snip it off as close to the base as possible.
  3. Water the plant well and care for it as you normally would.


It is best to repot the houseplant in autumn as the plant has finished blooming. If you transplant it during the springtime, this may disrupt its growth and the lily won’t bloom during the summer.

It is best to repot it once a year and make sure that the pot is deep and wide enough to avoid the houseplant becoming root-bound.

Here’s a quick guide to transplanting your lily:

  1. Slide a blunt knife along the pot’s perimeter to loosen the soil. Carefully remove the plant from its container and dust off the excess soil attached to the roots of the bulbs.
  2. Prepare a new pot by filling one-third of it with a moist potting mixture.
  3. Plant the lily in the center of the pot and make sure that its roots are fully covered.
  4. Water the houseplant well and place it back in its original position.


Sunlight Requirements

The lily can withstand partial shade, however, it thrives in full sunshine. Ideally, it should be grown in full sunlight for 6 to 8 hours a day and it should sit in filtered sunshine for 2 to 6 hours a day.

If you want it to bloom then you will need to make sure that it soaks in bright sunlight throughout the day.

Best Soil

It is best to plant the Asiatic lily in loamy, loose, and well-draining soil, just like the Boston fern. The potting mixture needs to be fertile and humus-rich for the plant to flourish.

To make sure that the plant receives all of the nutrients it needs you can add in some compost. Additionally, you can throw in some extra coconut coir, vermiculite, peat moss, and sharp sand to enhance the soil’s drainage.


Asiatic lilies prosper when fed with a balanced liquid fertilizer with a ratio; 5-10-5. During the spring and summertime, it is ideal to fertilize it every 2 to 4 weeks.

You have plenty of options when it comes to fertilizing the lily. You can use a slow-releasing fertilizer during the spring or you can feed it with one that is high in phosphorus or potassium. One can also apply an organic fish fertilizer too.

Top tip: Apply a layer of mulch or compost to reduce the lily’s need to be fed.

Best Pot Size and Type

Typically, an Asiatic lily is planted in a container that is at least 15 to 18 inches (38 – 45.7cm) deep to allow the bulbs to grow. The pot should also be 6 inches (15.2cm) wide.

The pot needs to have a few drainage holes and it’s best that it is plastic. A clay container may cause the soil to dry out too quickly.

Temperature Tolerance

A flourishing lily can withstand extreme temperatures, it can even grow in hot or cold regions. This hardy houseplant can survive in temperatures ranging from -30 to 90°F (-34.4 – 32.2°C).

Humidity Level

Lilium asiatica thrives in average household humidity, however, it loves a humid home. It prefers to be grown in humidity levels between 40 to 60 percent.

You can improve your household humidity level by purchasing a small humidifier, spritzing the plant with tepid water, and placing it on a humidity tray.

Outdoors vs. Indoors

Lilium asiatica can grow outdoors in USDA hardiness zones of 4 through 8. It may sprout bigger and longer blooms when it is grown outside.

How to Grow It Outdoors

When you want to grow the lily outside you will need to plant it in soil with compost and a slow-releasing fertilizer. It is important that it still receives direct sunshine and is watered frequently. When watering it make sure to adjust your schedule according to the weather.

An important consideration to keep in mind is that the plants need to be grown 8 inches apart from one another.

Top tip: Make sure that you move the plant outdoors after it has bloomed as you don’t want to disrupt its growth.

Asiatic lily - care, water, light, pot, temperature, fertilizer (infographics)

When Do They Bloom?

Lilium asiatica blooms vibrant and brightly colored flowers during the summertime. When it blooms, the flowers are upward-facing and it sprouts six petals.

Fun fact: The Asiatic lily is one of the earliest blooming lilies.

How Long Do They Bloom?

Typically, it flowers for an entire month when cared for well. Some cultivators have even managed to make the flowers bloom all summer long.

Do They Grow Back Every Year?

If properly cared for and planted at the right time, the Asiatic lily can grow back after it has bloomed.

When the bulbs are planted during the fall and you have created an optimum environment then the chances of it growing back increase. Additionally, you will also have to feed and water it consistently to encourage growth.

How to Make Them Bloom

There are a few things that you can do to encourage better and brighter blooms. You should make sure that the plant is not overcrowded and it must be planted in a deep pot.

The houseplant needs to receive plenty of sunshine and be fertilized frequently. Make sure to plant the bulbs in early autumn, and trim off any unhealthy foliage.

Top tip: Avoid using a fertilizer high in nitrogen to encourage blooming.

How to Grow It

You can grow this houseplant by propagating its bulbs and leaves or you can grow it from a seed. We’ll explain how to complete each method below.


You can propagate the bulbs and leaves in well-draining soil during early autumn. Make sure to use moist, peaty soil for each method.

How to Plant the Bulbs

Just like the elephant ear plant, this houseplant is grown from bulbs too. The lily can be divided into separate bulbs that can be planted and grown as individual houseplants. This is the most reliable, easy, and successful method of propagation.

Below, we’ve provided a guide to dividing the lily:

  1. Slide the plant out of its container and brush off any excess soil surrounding the bulbs.
  2. Pull the bulbs apart and separate the roots.
  3. Find a new pot and fill two-thirds of the container with well-draining soil.
  4. Plant the bulb in the soil. Make sure that it is planted at the same depth as half the bulb’s length.
  5. Water the bulb thoroughly and find a sunny home for it.
  6. The bulbs will root in 3 to 4 weeks, and you can then care for it as you would a mature lily.

How to Propagate Its Leaves

Even the Asiatic lily’s leaves can be planted in potting mixture and grown into a stunning houseplant. You will need to pick a lush leaf after the plant has bloomed. Follow the simple steps below.

  1. Examine the leaves attached to the stalk and pick a few healthy, green ones to propagate.
  2. Gently pull the leaf down the stalk, and dip the end in some rooting hormone.
  3. Take out new containers and fill them with moist peat moss.
  4. Stick each leaf 2 inches (5cm) deep in the soil, and cover the pots with plastic bags.
  5. After 4 weeks, you can repot the plant in a new container.
  6. It will take about 2 to 3 years until the plant blooms.

How to Grow It from a Seed

Ideally, you should plant the lily’s seeds during the springtime. Unfortunately, this method is time-consuming and it may even take between 2 to 6 years before it blooms.

  1. Take out a tray or shallow container and place peat moss inside it.
  2. Plant each seed 1 inch (2.5cm) apart and sprinkle a thin layer of soil over it.
  3. Pat the soil down with your fingertips.
  4. Place a plastic bag over the tray and keep the soil moist. Additionally, you should ensure that the seeds receive around 10 hours of sunshine.
  5. You can remove the plastic bag after 4 to 6 weeks or once new growth has sprouted.
  6. Repot the seedlings when they’re big enough during autumn.

How to Revive It

Lilium asiatica can run into a few issues due to improper care or natural aging. We’ll let you know what signs to look out for and how to revive your houseplant.

Bulb Rot

Bulb rot is caused by a plant becoming waterlogged and being overwatered. You may notice that the bulbs begin to turn into a brown-black color and the stalks may become soft.

You will have to remove the houseplant, trim back the unhealthy tissue, and transplant it immediately.

Brown Leaves

The browning of leaves is due to improper watering. You may be either over- or underwatering your plant, and you can tell by feeling the soil. If the soil is soggy then cease watering the plant for a few days, whereas when the soil is dry, you will need to give it a deep watering.

To avoid this issue occurring again, make sure to adjust your watering schedule or improve the drainage.

Yellow Leaves

If the lower level leaves are yellow and shrivel then they are most likely old. This is completely normal as it’s part of the lily’s lifecycle. All you have to do is trim off this unhealthy growth.

If the foliage is yellow and droopy, then you have a problem on your hands. This is caused by overwatering and too much moisture. All you need to do is to wait a few days before watering it again.

Gray Foliage

Have you ever noticed a white fuzz that makes your leaf look gray? This is caused by the fungus known as Botrytis. It enters through damaged or cut foliage. To revive your plant you must cut off all of the unhealthy foliage.

Final Thoughts

These hardy lilies are vibrant and add a touch of elegance to your home. There are a few things to keep in mind when growing this houseplant; feed it well, water it thoroughly, and create the optimal environment. When given the right care you will see long-lasting and unique flowers every summer.

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