Madonna Lily

“Madonna Lily”, a copyrighted post, was written for my WordPress blog called Always Growing by Jan in Covington, Louisiana

One of my oldest plants is this Madonna Lily.  It is one of the first purchases I made when I was just starting out trying to do some landscaping around our home.  It was a mail ordered, with a few other fall bulbs, from Parks Seed.  Lured by the photographs and the description that it would do well in our area, I succumbed to this lily.  When planted, it grew well but never did flower.  I think it was the lack of sun.

When I made the circle garden about six or seven years ago, I transplanted this little lily to front and center.  Now, I knew it would get sun.  The next spring, sure enough, there was a stalk and one small flower.  It was much smaller than I thought it would be, but I have learned since then that it has a small flower.  Every year after that, the plant has slowly grown bigger, and this is the best year for its flowers.  There are three stalks this year, so there are many flowers opening now.


Other interesting facts about this Madonna Lily (Lilium candidum) is that the flowers are used for an essential oil in perfume.  It is from the eastern Mediterranean area and is called the Madonna lily because it was so often used in paintings of the Blessed Mother.


This lily grows during the winter, blooms in the spring, and then dies back in the summer.  They also do not root stem as other lilies do, and because of this should only be planted with about two inches of soil on top of the bulb.  It is an easy to care for lily because I didn’t know very much about gardening and nothing about lilies when I planted it, and it has done well.

Even though this is a small sized lily, it is certainly a star in my garden.  Madonna lilies have stood for purity for over 3,000 years and when it blooms you can see why.  The color of its white flower is like no other.  It is such a pure white, it is hard to describe the difference this white color is.  “Candidum” is Latin for “dazzling white” and a better name couldn’t be found.



  1. Garden Mary said,

    May 5, 2009 at 5:02 am

    Lovely lily. I am not familiar with this one. Glad it has done so well for you.

    • isisfive said,

      July 6, 2009 at 12:12 am

      do you make white lily into essential oil – please let me know by return


      • Jan said,

        July 7, 2009 at 5:43 am

        No, isisfive, I do not make any essential oil. I don’t think I would ever have enough lilies to do that. Maybe if you checked online, you might find a source.

  2. Jan said,

    May 5, 2009 at 5:03 am

    Good morning, Garden Mary, you are certainly up early. I am hoping that I will soon be able to divide the Madonna Lily to have a few more in the garden. It is a lovely, little lily.

  3. nancybond said,

    May 5, 2009 at 7:08 am

    This is a lovely flower and I’m sure it had a lovely scent, too?

  4. cindee said,

    May 5, 2009 at 8:09 am

    Hi Jan,
    Thanks for stopping by my blog!
    I have an Easter Lily that seems to grow well in my garden but I don’t have a Madonna Lily. Yours is beautiful!(-:

  5. Phillip said,

    May 5, 2009 at 1:04 pm

    I love lilies but have never grown this one.

  6. May 5, 2009 at 2:22 pm

    It is stunning Jan, is it very fragrant too?


  7. Jan said,

    May 5, 2009 at 4:20 pm

    Yes, Nancy it does have a very lovely scent.

    Cindee, I have Easter lilies, too. This will be the third year they are in the garden. The Madonna lily looks like a small version of the Easter lily, but the white color is exceptional.

    Phillip, this one is perfect for a small area since it does not get as big as the other lilies. I like it because it is such an old plant. There are examples of this lily in ancient Minoan art.

    Tyra, yes, it is very fragrant, but not overpowering as some lilies are. It is a lovely lily that I am so glad I planted years ago.

  8. May 5, 2009 at 9:57 pm

    I love lilies and have quite a few in my yard (Asiatic species). Unfortunatley the area in which I live is infested by the lily beetle and makes it almost impossible to grow them without lots of toxic spraying. I’m trying to grow Day Lilies to replace them… but I don’t think the Day Lily is a true lily (not sure…).

  9. Jan said,

    May 6, 2009 at 2:34 am

    No, Jackie, Daylilies are not true lilies, but they would make a good substitute for them in your circumstances. What a shame you cannot grow something you love.

  10. oram Gorski said,

    May 21, 2009 at 7:50 am

    Dear Sir/Madam

    Do you know perhaps where it is possible to buy the Essential Oil of this

    amazing flower.

    Thank you for your kind attention


    • Jan said,

      May 22, 2009 at 4:42 am

      Sorry, Oram, I do not know where to purchase this. Have you tried Google? Information might be there.

  11. Dan said,

    June 29, 2009 at 3:34 pm

    Is the madonna lily the one that smells like orange peels.
    Last year the house was painted and they died of being trampled. They where there 8 years. Every picture and description leads me to believe they were Madonna lilies. I just don’t want to buy the wrong type. Can’t some one comment.

    • Jan said,

      June 29, 2009 at 5:10 pm

      Dan, I found that my Madonna lilies did not smell like orange peels. They had more of a sweet smell like baby powder, maybe. Madonna lilies are not very big, if that helps you decided if yours were Madonna lilies or not.

  12. Sue said,

    December 7, 2009 at 5:46 pm

    Does anyone know where I can buy Madonna Lily bulbs in New Zealand

  13. Shon said,

    May 7, 2010 at 4:20 am

    Beautiful plant I’ve been after madonna lilies for years but never knew where to get them,can you help

    • Jan said,

      May 7, 2010 at 4:34 am

      Mine is just getting ready to bloom, in fact, the flowers should open today or tomorrow. I bought mine years ago from Park Seed Co. for autumn planting. Here is the website if you want to check. These lilies may not be available until the late summer because I do remember buying them with daffodils.

  14. Shon Yde said,

    October 4, 2010 at 4:50 am

    You lucky thing I used to look after a garden at a Convent of St.Mary,and Madonna lily had pride of place there.I’ve tired to find out where I could Buy it but everyone I have asked has no idea or even know of it.Enjoy your Madonna lily,you seem so happy that’s really good, you deserve it ,to me it ranks as the most beautiful of all the lilies.

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