How to Transplant a Surprise Lily


Surprise lilies are also known as resurrection or magic lilies. They received their name because they bloom four or five days after their leaves wither. The leaves of a surprise lily appear in the spring, while its pink or white flowers emerge in mid- to late summer. Surprise lilies are easy to grow and their bulbs are easy to transplant.

Things You'll Need

  • Spade
  • Clippers
  • Mulch
  • Water


  • The best time to transplant surprise lilies is the fall, ideally four weeks before the first frost. Surprise lily bulbs may also be stored in a cool, dry place during the winter and transplanted in early spring, approximately three weeks prior to the last frost. Select a site that has good drainage and will receive sunshine at least six hours a day. Prepare the site by digging a hole a few inches deep, or at least twice the diameter of the bulb. If transplanting more than one lily, plant them in a cluster 8 to 10 inches apart.

  • Trim the foliage that has withered on the bulb you are transplanting, then dig the bulb out of the ground. Place organic matter such as garden compost at the bottom of the hole. Place the bulb in the hole and add soil around the bulb until it is covered and stands on its own. If you are transplanting more than one bulb, make sure each hole is the same depth. Transplant the bulbs as quickly as possible to keep them from drying out.

  • Water the area around the surprise lily. Cut off any plant stems that are killed by frost. Add a layer of mulch shortly before the ground freezes; leaves or hay make good winter mulch. Remove mulch in the spring when shoots emerge from ground.

Tips & Warnings

  • Water surprise lilies during dry periods. Lilies are more pleasant to the eye in a cluster, so do not plant them too far apart or in a row.
  • Surprise lilies may not bloom in the first year after transplanting.

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