Canada lilies (Lilium canadense), also known as meadow lilies and wild yellow lilies, are woodland plants that thrive in partial shade. Plants bloom in summer, bearing several golden-yellow to orange, downward-facing, trumpet-shaped flowers atop long stalks. Canada lilies grow 2 to 6 feet tall and grow in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 3 through 9. You can dig and transplant Canada lilies in fall; avoid transplanting in the spring.
Natural Habitat and Permissions
Canada lilies are native to meadow areas, wet woods and low thickets. They grow wild in Canada and in the eastern half of the United States, as far west as Indiana, north to New York, south to Georgia and east to the Atlantic shore. Before digging any wildflowers, including Canada lilies, ask permission from the land owner and never dig plants growing in parks or roadsides, as these are government-owned and obtaining plants from these areas is prohibited.
Canada lilies' foliage begins to turn yellow to brown during fall -- not in spring. Wait until the stalks die back to dig up the bulbs, usually in October. Canada lily bulbs differ from typical lily bulbs in that they are flattened, egg-shaped and scaly. After digging up bulbs, separate them into bulblets and plant them in their new location. Canada lilies require a location with full sun to partial shade; plants do not thrive in deep shade. Plants require well-drained sandy or loamy moist soil with a neutral pH.
Plant Canada lily bulblets immediately after digging. Dig a generous planting hole at least a foot deeper than the bulb height and add soil to the hole to bring it up to proper level for the bulb. Place bulbs 6 to 8 inches beneath the soil, or two and a half times deeper than the bulb's diameter. Spacing requirement is a foot between bulbs, or for a denser effect, plant bulbs at least 6 inches apart. Lilies may not bloom the first year after transplanting.
Collecting seeds is another method of obtaining wildflowers you want to grow on your property. You can propagate Canada lilies from seed; pods ripen six to eight weeks after flowers bloom. Seed pods are football-shaped and ripe when the surface is crispy and brown. Ripe seed pods split open easily, exposing a tightly-stacked chamber of thin, clear light-brown flakes. Collect seeds and plant them immediately in well-drained loose soil in a shady area 1/2 inch deep for spring germination. While Canada lilies can be short-lived, they do self-seed. However, it can take up to five years for Canada lilies to bloom when grown from seed.
- The New Illustrated Encyclopedia of Gardening Volume 11; T.H. Everett, Editor
- University of Vermont: Lilium Canadense
- United States Department of Agriculture Plants Profile: Lilium canadense
- Plant for a Future: Lilium Canadense
- Alpine Garden Society: Lilium Canadense