Propagating Asiatic Lilies From Leaves

I tried an experiment recently with some Asiatic lily leaves. I read in one of my favorite plant propagation manual that forming new plants from the leaves of lilies was possible. As always I’m open to trying anything with propagation so I gave it a shot.

How I Propagated Asiatic Lilies from Leaves

I took six leaves from an Asiatic lily by gently pulling them off in a downward motion to purposely retain a small amount of stem tissue at the base of each leaf. This didn’t hurt the mother plants at all.

Then I treated the leaves with rooting hormone and put them in cups with about 2 inches of sand.

Then I filled an additional inch of sand over the treated ends of the leaves. This helped them to stand upright and covered the area for the bulb to form. I fit three cuttings in each cup so you really don’t need much space to do this. Be sure to water your cuttings. Moisten the sand so that it is damp but not over saturated. Once watered you may want to cover with a plastic bag to help retain an even level of moisture.

About one month later I checked the cuttings by adding enough water to loosen the sand and here is what I found:

The newly formed bulb is ready to be transplanted into 4″ pots to grow onward and upward and become a new lily. It will be at least a year and maybe two before it will flower but when you consider how many lilies can be made with this propagation process it is well worth it!

A quick cost analysis:
We recently bought a lily this weekend for around $6. If that is the going rate for most Asiatic lilies then these 6 lily plants I made through propagation just saved us $36. If you consider that you can take many more than six lily leaves per plant throughout the season you could exponentially increase that number. Isn’t plant propagation great?

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About Dave

Dave has written since 2007. He gardens on an acre and a half where he raises his 4 children. He enjoys growing vegetables, herbs, and propagating plants. Dave has a side business growing and selling heirloom vegetables and herb plants through Blue Shed Gardens and works as a real estate agent in Spring Hill, TN.


  1. I have that book. I’ve propagated lilies by division, scaling and by the little bulblets that form along the stem, pulling them off and potting up in the fall, but never tried leaves.

    I’ve only bought bulbs, never a potted lily. Often a few scales will come off in the package of bulbs. Each one will form a new lily if the peat in which they were packed is moistened and the bag put in a warm place. Isn’t it wonderful, the determination of lilies to thrive?

  2. Pretty neat! I never knew you could do this. What a bargain!

  3. I wish I had brought my rooting hormone to work- I’m definitely going to try this!

  4. That is so awesome, Dave! But a month is sure a long time to wait!

  5. Oh my goodness, Dave, I didn’t know you could do that! Terrific! I have grown them from the little bulblets that sometimes form on the leaf axils, is that the right word? and saved seeds from the Chinese trumpets, they germinated easily and are doing well with no decrease in flower production either. Black Beauty did not germinate however. I like your way the best!

  6. I’ve never heard of this. It sure is a money saver. It also provides you with all the lilies that a person might want. Way to go, Dave.

  7. Thanks for the tip. I have some red dwarf lilies that I wanted more of but I couldn’t remember where I had bought them. Now I’ll just start my own.

  8. Professor Dave, Thank you for this lesson! I love that we could do this…some of the lilies are very expensive! gail

  9. Basically this jump starts the formation of bulblets at the end of the leaves. It almost skips that step and goes right to forming the bulb. You can see tiny roots forming on the bulb itself. Of the six leaves I took all of them rooted. I took four more recently and started them so hopefully I’ll have a few more going soon.

  10. I just found your blog, and I think I’m in love! Thank you so much for sharing this propogating method. Now, excuse me while I go add you to my bloglist.

  11. Dave, what a great post! I don’t have any more room for more lilies :-( but I want to try this technique. I’m always trading plants, and who wouldn’t want lilies?

  12. Teresa,

    I’m glad you enjoyed the post! Go give it a try!


    I’m sure lilies would be great plants for trades. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t like them!

  13. Total newbie question I’m guessing… are you watering them at all? leaving them in the sun? Doing anything to them over the month?

  14. Jen,

    No harm in asking any question! I kept them moist but not completely soaked. As long as the sand medium stays damp to the touch they will be fine. I had them in a semi-sunny window where the sunlight was filtered by a set of mini-blinds. So if you give them more sun than I did I think they would be fine as long as the sand was kept moist. In fact more sun might help increase the rooting speed. I may have to try that!

  15. You are a master propogator Dave! I never knew you could root lily leaves either, but I’ve done this with African Violets so it makes sense. Great tip!

  16. This is great. Thank you so much for posting it. I can’t wait to try it.

  17. Thanks for this. I bought as many bulbs as I could afford of Asiatics but this way hopefully I will be able to have many more.

  18. Hi Dave,
    Very nice post…. I happen to see this few days ago and have planted few leaves in plastic cups and Seed Trays in the manner you suggested. I am hopeful to have many more lilies now. Just wanted to check if you had tried this experiment with Oriental Lilies as well. Will Oriental Lily also produce bulbs from leaves???

  19. Rahul,

    I think it should work fine for Oriental lilies since both Asiatic and Oriental lilies belong to the genus Lilium. Good luck with your propagation, free plants are great aren't they!

  20. Dave……When you planted the leaves in the 4 inch pots, did you just use regular potting soil? I recently purchased and planted my first asiatic lily. It was a showpiece until the nicest part was accidentally broken off at ground level. I was hoping for a way to save some of it???

  21. Hi Holly!

    For the leaves I initially used sand to get the bulbs started and transplanted them into regular potting soil later. Your plant should still be fine beneath the soil. Just transplant the bulbs into the ground and you may see a return of foliage this year but go ahead and see if you can root the leaves. It's fun to try!

  22. Dave-
    What did you do with the new lily bulbs during the winter?

    How did they fare this summer?

    I'm really excited to try this!

    ~holly h

  23. that's was great idea thanks for sharing

  24. Dear Dave

    I read your post a year ago but i started to try this way of propagation today, i have the same book you have but i have difficulity of understanding the book completely as i a native chinese who live in France. I can understand French and purchase English book from Uk seems more make sense for me.

    I noticed you use rooting hormone, but as i am totoally newbie for garden , so i followed the book which said using the fungicdal solution, i couldnt get the vermiculite in local garden center, so i use sand as you did, first i filled the tray with one level of bigger sand and then sand mixed which i mixed a little potting soil, and then one more level of fine sand.

    I place them in a place with indirect light and cool.

    I love lilies, i just hope this work.

    I hope i could see you have more porpagation posts for bulb flower in the future as i love bulbs and they easy to grow.

    Thanks for this wonderful post and the photos.

  25. Bill B. Savage MN

    My efforts with this procedure began in December 2011 when a link to this article was posted in the Yahoo Group Lilium.
    I found that leaves can be started in bags as you would use for DH seeds or in a 12 ounce plastic cup. The medium must be fine in texture. It can be Vermiculite or a seed starting mix. Coarse grades of Vermiculite and Perlite did not work for me. Sand was not tried as it was not available at the time. It was necessary for the plastic cup to be bagged otherwise the moisture content could not held stable enough.
    Bulblets grew large (.25") from leaves taken before bloom from an Asiatic variety that grew bulbils. After bloom, another set of leaves produced very tiny bulblets after a month. Leaves from a variety that did not grow bulbils did not produce bulblets either before or after bloom.


  26. I came across this site looking for container gardening This is awesome site Already Im ready t o try some of this
    Thanks so much

  27. Want to try this . What time of year did you do it? I live in southern hemisphere.

    • Hi Linda,

      I did these in April which would be mid Spring here. I'm not exactly sure how that translates to the southern hemisphere but temperatures in April in Tennessee can range from chilly to fairly warm. Our last frost is usually mid April around the 15th. Hopefully that will help you find the right time where you are!

  28. I love lilies, and have few due to the cost. I can afford to grow them now. Thank you so much!
    ~ Lynda

  29. Thank you for sharing this piece of information.
    I also read another post in Chinese regarding to lily propagation from leaf and stem cuttings. This Taiwanese gardener used stem cuttings of an Easter lily 'Triumphantor', which successfully gave out a few bulbils that were larger in size and bloomed the year after.
    I am currently experimenting on Oriental lilies myself. However, it has been suggested which lily varieties with prolific bulbil growth (such as Easter lilies and Asiatic lilies) are more likely to produce bulbils via leaf and stem cuttings, though I really hope this could work!!

  30. Hey I'm just wondering if you have ever rooted an asiatic lily in just water? I had a rabbit chew the top off one of my lily sprouts about a month ago and I put it into a cup of water and when I checked it a few days ago I noticed a little root has formed. I'm not sure what to do at this point… Should I leave it in the water or should I plant it and hope for the best? Also could I plant it in african violet soil? Thanks for your time

    • Amber,

      I haven't tried it in just water but if you already have roots then it must work! I would go ahead and pot it in a small pot of potting soil and nurture it along. Your African violet mix should be OK for a little while but you'll want to transplant it into a mixture with more compost later.

  31. This sounds amazing.

    What type of sand do you use?

    Do you water them during the initial month?

    When ready to transplant from bulb do you break the bulb off or just plant the whole thing?

    Im new to gardening and any advice on this is much appreciated

    • I just used sandbox sand. You could use a variety of other media like vermiculite, perlite, or combinations of peat and sand. Definitely water them. Don't over saturate but moisten the media. I would leave the bulb attached after it is formed.

  32. Yes, I am curious if you moistened the sand as well. I noticed that it did not say to do so in the post. I have plenty more leafs to choose from if I was not supposed to wet the sand.

  33. Great tip for propagating Asiatic lilies. I start plants on a heated mat under a plastic cover. I have to spritz them morning and night. Do I have to keep the sand and leaves moist? Thank you for taking the time to help promote eco gardening. Regards, jeff

  34. Hello Dave, I just came across this blog via Pinterest. I was wondering if this technique would work with regular potting soil rather than sand. I'm kind of new at all of this and just learning the tricks!

  35. Hello Dave! I am fairly new at this whole gardening thing and am trying to learn some of the tricks. I was wondering if this technique would work in regular potting soil, or if it needs to be sand?

  36. Did you poke drainage holes in the containers? Would these be okay outdoors (z8) after they've rooted? Thanks!

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