How to Grow Lily of the Valley

02/11/2021 | Ken Davis How to Grow..

by Ken Lain, the mountain gardener

This gorgeous shrub loves growing in the summer shade of a Pinyon Pine. This bold winter evergreen delights with dramatic firey growth in spring, producing clusters of fragrant flowers. Exquisite wedding cake layers of white flowers hover on graceful, arching stems most of winter and spring. The easy-care rounded form stands out with shiny foliage all winter, opening to white bell-shaped blooms in spring. This knee-high shrub is utterly detestable to all deer and Javelina.

Botanical name                      Pieris japonica

Common name                      Lily of the Valley, Fetterbush, Japanese Pieris.

Size at Maturity                    Fast-growing reaching 3 ft. tall x wide

Bloom Time                           Spring

Deciduous/ Evergreen           Evergreen

Flower Attribute                   Showy Flowers

Flower Color             Pink to pure white

Foliage Color                         Green

Garden Styles                        Asian/Zen, Contemporary, Rustic, Woodland

Growth Habit                        Compact

USDA Zone                            5 to 7, USDA

Landscape Use                      Border, Containers, Firescaping/Fire Wise, Hedge, Mass Planting, Specimen, Woodland Garden

Light Needs                            Filtered sun, Partial shade, Partial sun

Special Feature                      Dramatic Foliage, Year-round Interest, Compact Form

Water Needs                          Moderate

Key Feature                           Sensational Flowering Shrub

Lily of the Valley Care

Lily of the valley grows vigorously in almost any spot with shade. Gardeners plant it under trees where many other plants won’t grow due to shade. A long-lived plant that doesn’t have any serious issues with pests or diseases. It’s helpful to grow it in containers or a raised garden bed to avoid unwanted spread.

This plant needs little attention to thrive once established. Plan to water during dry spells. If bloom time decreases on older plants, it benefits from digging them up in winter and divide the roots to refresh their growth. Replant them where they have more space.

Light Needs

Filtered sun, Partial shade, partial sun

Water Needs

Water regularly – weekly, or more often in extreme heat or containers. This plant prefers consistently moist but not soggy soil. Water whenever the soil begins to dry out due to a lack of rainfall and/or hot weather. Soil that is too dry will impede the plant’s growth and flowering.


Lily of the valley prefers organically rich soil with good drainage. But it can grow in a range of soil types, including clay soil. It likes neutral soil pH but can tolerate slightly alkaline soil.

Temperature and Humidity

Lily of the valley prefers mild conditions with average humidity. Temperatures between 60 and 80 degrees are ideal with cool mountain nights.


Keep this evergreen perennial happy by feeding 3x times per year with 7-4-4 All Purpose Food (March, July, and October).


Wild animals avoid the lily of the valley. The plant, including its orange-red fruits, often tempts children and pets, which is toxic. The toxins are most concentrated in the roots and do not translocate through touching the skin.

Fortunately, suppose you need to work with the lily of the valley in your garden. In that case, you don’t have to worry about experiencing symptoms via skin contact from handling the plant.

Better Together: Companion Plants for February


Your grandmother would fall in love with these larger varieties with so many colors to choose from. There’s nothing like the enormous flowers to add vibrant stunning pops of color. Endearing springtime blooms are more than fragrant with luscious double flowers. Perfect for cut flowers in a spring bouquet. These hard mountain varieties take the brutal sun, wind for decades of perennial enjoyment. Deer are Javelina will ignore these peony beauties.

Calgary Carpet Juniper

Rich green mounds of juniper beauty only grow ankle-high for the perfect mountain ground cover. An ideal choice for low water, low care erosion control on natural banks where monsoon run-off is a problem. The perfect green nestled between boulders or soften the top edge of a masonry retaining wall. Ideally used to add color and style next to a barren rock lawn through the winter months. Junipers are always naturally welcome in Japanese gardens or pruned into creative bonsai forms.

Pinyon Pine – Thick, evergreen needles provide year-round beauty with summer shade to dry mountain landscapes but blend in equally well a modern or Mediterranean garden style.