Why Do Your Lilies Grow So Tall?

Lilies are colorful flowers that add beauty and fragrance to any garden or yard, and you can grow them in containers and cut them for a stunning bouquet once the growing season is done. Growing lilies is a great experience, but many people don’t realize just how big these plants can get and why they grow so tall.

Your lilies are likely growing so tall because they are a species of oriental lily. Oriental lilies typically gain height yearly, growing up to 8 feet (2.44 m) tall when cared for properly. Other lily species don’t grow that tall.

In the rest of this article, I’ll explain in greater detail why lilies grow so tall and how to care for them properly. I’ll also describe the process and importance of pruning lilies. If you have tall lilies in your garden or want to have some, keep reading! 

The Various Types of Lilies and How Tall they Grow

There are two main types of lilies: Asiatic and oriental. These blooms of these lilies look similar, so it’s easy to think they’re the same. But there are some key differences between the two types, the most noticeable being the size.

Asiatic lilies typically grow to be 2 to 3 feet (0.61 to 0.91 m) tall on average, although they can reach 6 feet (1.83 m). If your lilies are taller than this, they are most likely part of the oriental lily family. 

Oriental lilies gain height every year as long as they are healthy, reaching up to 8 feet (2.44 m) tall. Because they can reach such great heights, they’re also known as tree lilies in the gardening community. 

If you’re not convinced that your tall lilies are oriental lilies, use the comparison table below to figure out which lily type you have in your garden. 

Trait Asiatic Lilies Oriental Lilies 
Origin Several regions in Asia Japan 
Fragrance Little to no fragrance Strong clove-like scent 
Flowering TimeEarly spring Summer and mid-fall 
Flower ColorPastels White, yellow, and pink 
Leaf Shape Long, skinny Heart-shaped

Other main types of lilies include Easter lilies and trumpet lilies. Easter lilies are usually grown indoors around Easter because they bloom in March and April. This lily grows only up to 3 feet (0.91 m). So if your lilies are extremely tall, they’re likely not this type.  

Trumpet lilies look similar to oriental lilies, but their flowers are more closed than oriental blooms. They usually reach a maximum of 5 feet (1.52 m). 

Now that you know that your tall lilies are probably oriental lilies, let’s discuss how to care for these extremely tall plants.

How To Care for Tall Lilies

Tall lilies may require a bit more work than shorter lilies to keep them healthy and growing properly. Here are some suggestions for how to care for these towering plants:

Stake Your Tall Lilies

When lilies start getting tall, the structure of their stem may begin to fail under the weight of the bloom. Once your plant gets too top-heavy, you may want to prop it up to help relieve the stem from some of the burden. Bamboo stakes or a tomato cage work well for staking especially tall lilies.

Pro tips: When staking a lily, tie the stem using twine. Don’t use wire because it can damage the stem and the plant’s health. Also, tie the stem to the stake in multiple places for the best support, and always have a tie just underneath the flower bloom. 

Mulch the Plants When You First Plant Them

Lilies grow taller and are healthier when their roots are protected with mulch. Mulch your lilies with straw, pine needles, leaves, or other mulch when you first plant them to protect the new roots from weather or wind damage. You should also mulch your lilies if you anticipate a frost coming. 

I would layer 8 to 12 inches (20.32 to 30.48 cm) of shredded leaves around the roots because leaves allow for more air movement, which reduces the risk of holding in too much moisture in the soil. The roots may rot if the soil gets too wet for too long. 

Plant Your Lilies in a Place With Enough Space and Sunlight

Lilies don’t thrive when crowded, so you should make sure that you’re giving them enough room to grow when planting. This is especially important when planting oriental lilies because they grow exceptionally tall. 

Lilies also need at least a half-day of sun, although they also like some shade in hotter temperatures. The stems and leaves of lilies should always be able to get sunlight without competition from other plants 一 yet another reason to avoid overcrowding.

How To Prune Lilies

Pruning is one of the best ways to care for your lilies and encourage future growth. Pruning also helps prevent pests and disease, adds to the beauty of the plant, and helps control overgrown plants. The best time to prune lilies is in the fall.

My favorite pruning shears are the Gonicc Titanium Bypass Pruning Shears, which you can get at Amazon. The blade is made with high-quality titanium steel that will make a clean cut every time without too much struggle, helping prevent tearing or crushing the stems and possibly triggering a fungal infection. I also like the non-slip handles, which are comfortable to hold for hours at a time.  

Here’s how to prune your lilies: 

  1. Cut off any dead blooms. If you have dead flowers on your plant, the blooms will produce seeds and divert energy from future growth. Cutting off the flower means that energy can go towards new bulbs. It also helps your plant look neater in your garden. 
  2. Cut brown and dead leaves back. Yellowing leaves aren’t as pretty as green ones. However, they are still producing energy for next year, so wait until they are completely dead before you cut them away. Read more about yellowing lily leaves in this article: Why Are Your Oriental Lily Leaves Turning Yellow?
  3. Check for pests and symptoms of diseases as you trim your lilies. A couple of disfigured leaves are no cause for concern. You can simply remove those leaves and remain with a healthy plant. However, if you notice mosaic virus symptoms (namely, spotted and mottled leaves), you should dig up the entire plant and remove it. 
  4. Cut the stalks once they are completely yellow. Lily stems usually turn completely yellow by late fall. At this point, they can be cut back to the ground.

Typically, you can prune your lilies after the first frost of the year, which is in late fall.  But if you live in a warm area or a USDA zone above nine, you may need to force your lily plant into dormancy to give them the necessary resting period. To do this, cut the foliage down to 1 or 2 inches (2.54 to 5.1 cm) in late October or early November. 


If your lilies are taller than 6 feet (1.83 m), it is probably because they are healthy oriental lilies. Oriental lilies, otherwise known as tree lilies, can grow up to 8 feet (2.44 cm) tall as long as they are healthy and well-cared for. The height of these lilies may be overwhelming, but there are steps you can take to care for them properly.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of TheGrowingLeaf.com, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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