Orange and white lily flowers.

How to Plant Pots of Perfume in Your Garden

The epitome of high summer, sweetly scented lilies set by a front or back door will greet you with their perfume as you come and go, but keep your distance because their pollen stains clothing. The most cost-effective way to grow them is to plant fresh bulbs in early spring.

When to start: Spring.

At their best: Summer.

Time to complete: 30 minutes.

You will need: Lily bulbs, deep container, broken clay pot pieces, multipurpose potting mix, horticultural grit.

Prepare the pot

In spring, buy fresh lily bulbs and choose a deep container; most lilies are planted at a depth of 6 to 8 in (15–20 cm). Cover the drainage hole with broken pot pieces and then add a layer of multipurpose potting mix.

Plant the bulbs

Add a 1. in (3 cm) thick layer of horticultural grit over the potting mix and lay the bulbs on their sides on top. Positioning the bulbs like this allows water to drain out of the bulb scales, rather than collecting and rotting the bulbs.

Top up the container

Cover the bulbs and top up the container to about 2 in (5 cm) below the rim with a 50:50 mix of soil and horticultural grit. Place your pots on “feet” in a sheltered spot and move them into the sun as soon as the shoots appear.


Water every couple of days, and apply a tomato feed to your lily pots every fortnight during the summer. Keep in a sheltered position over winter, and in spring, renew the top 2 in (5 cm) of compost. Lily beetle is their main pest. Look out for these bright red beetles and pick them off as soon as you see them.


Choose the following species for scent: L. auratum, L. candidum, L. hansonii, L. regale, white, L. speciosum var. rubrum, Oriental hybrids – such as ‘Star Gazer’, ‘Tiger Woods’, and ‘Arabian Red’.