Madonna Lily

Lilium candidum
Liliaceae, Lily Family
Madonna Lily
Madonna Lily
The capitals on top were in the shape of lilies. And so the work on the pillars was completed.
1 Kings 7:22 NIV
Madonna Lily
My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to browse in the gardens and to gather lilies.
Song of Songs 6:2 NIV

Cultural Information

TypePerennial bulb, hardy to zone 5
Height3 to 4 feet
Soilrich, well-drained, with plenty of humus
Exposurefull sun to part shade
Leaveswarm, glossy green, linear, arranged up the flower's central stalk, 1 to 2 inches long, monocot
Flowersbright white, bold flowers in trumpet shape, 6 petals splay out from central tube, yellow stamens emphaisize the center of the flower, flowers clustered several to a stalk, attractive to pollinators

Planting Tips

  • soak bulbs before planting to 3 inch depth
  • spring planted bulbs will bloom in early summer
  • Madonna lilies grow in the woodlands of the Holy Land, plant yours in transition areas between low growing and taller shrubs
  • after blooming, trim extra or faded leaves and flowers, allowing remaining stems and leaves to linger in order to help nourish the bulb for next year's bloom
  • water and mulch before winter freezes

Garden to Table

  • plant enough bulbs to bring some flowers inside for arrangements, as most will decorate and illuminate the garden, and you won't want to cut them!!
  • where indoor vases are close to foot traffic, remove lily stamens as pollen easily stains clothing
  • shop for small vases or float short stems in bowls of water when you want to bring in just a few flowers and not the whole stalk
  • Madonna lilies bloom into summer, not at Easter time

Additional Resources

See Blog Posts on Madonna Lily
Lilium candidum, the Madonna or white lily, is a species native to the Levant, growing in the thick forage browsed or grazed by shepherds. While the Hebrew word shuwshan is not strictly a botanical term and many wildflowers could fit this translation, King Solomon, thought to be the “he” of this story, had lily blossoms carved to adorn the column capitals of his palace, likely the white lily (1 Kings 7:19,22). ...The white lily blooms in May or June with a sweet scent characteristic of many lily species, celebrated in many romantic verses of the Song of Songs...
-from the NIV God's Word for Gardeners Bible
Madonna Lily
My beloved has gone down to his garden, to the beds of spices, to browse in the gardens and to gather lilies.
Song of Songs 6:2 NIV

Photo Credits

©2013 Maja Dumat, Madonnenlilie (Lilium candidum) from Flickr Creative Commons
©2018 Shelley S. Cramm Madonna lily bulbs in woodland mulch ready for spring planting
©2015 Zachi Evenor Shoshan-Zachi-Evenor-6975 Lilium candidum, Wadi Kelach, Mount Carmel, Israel Flickr Creative Commons
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