Growing Lily-of-the-Valley

Growing Lily-of-the-Valley
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Growing lily of the valleyLily-of-the-valley, Convallaria L., is a perfect plant for woodland gardens or out of the way places. They have a sweet fragrance, and charming clusters of tiny bells. In Germany they are known as "little Maybells", and they have been called "Mary's tears" as well. They were thought of as a symbol of the Virgin Mary's purity by monks in medieval times. Lily-of-the-valley has been a loved plant in many gardens throughout the centuries.

I actually recommend lily-of-the-valley for out of the way uses since every part of them are poisonous. IF you have young children and pets be sure to pick the location carefully. The flowers, berries and leaves are toxic. You can cut the berry stalks before they ripen and remove.

I know some of you may have seen lily-of-the-valley listed as an herb that has medicinal qualities BUT this is only under controlled circumstances by qualified professionals! It doesn't mean they can't be a nice addition to our gardens, just that we need to be aware and take caution around animals and small children, who are still experimenting by putting things in their mouths. I always believe it's better to be safe than sorry!

Plant the "pips", as the roots are called, in the spring or fall. You can also divide them at this time. There is the traditional white lily-of-the-valley variety as well as "rosea", that has pink blooms. I know from experience that they will adapt to almost any soil, but a fertile spot is better. Plant the divisions about 6-10 inches apart in partial or full shade. They will grow in sun, IF the ground is moist, otherwise shade is best.

Lily-of-the-valley need to be planted fairly deep, not close to the surface, and firm the soil around them well after planting. Many times the foliage becomes unsightly after blooming, and generally it will die back, but if it's in a moist location the foliage may stay green. For the most part, think of it as a spring bloomer that you plant where other flowers will take over after it finishes.

Growing lily of the valley

Combine lily of the valley with hostas or use them as a ground cover. As they fill in, and you notice the blooms becoming sparse, then it's time to divide the plants. That was how I received mine from a friend. They are very easy to divide and replant. They do best in Zones 3 to 7 and can be planted in containers as well.

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Bottom Image: Brenda Hyde


About The Author

Brenda Hyde is a freelance writer living on ten acres in rural Michigan with her husband and three kids. She is a mom, grandma, gardener, cook and writer. She blogs on all of these topics at


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