Description & Overview

Lily of the Valley is an adaptable, shade-tolerant, spreading perennial that has historically been used as a groundcover in the difficult shade garden.

We have discontinued producing and selling this plant due to its aggressive behavior in the landscape and invasive potential. All parts of the plant are poisonous, and care should be taken when handling any plant part. Also known as May Bells and Mary’s Tears.

This plant is no longer in production. The product info remains for informational purposes.

Core Characteristics

Category: Perennial

Wisconsin Native: No - Introduced

USDA Hardiness Zone: to zone 3

Mature Height: 12 inches

Mature Spread: 12 inches

Growth Rate: Perennial

Growth Form: Clumping, spreading

Light Requirements: Partial Shade to Full Shade

Site Requirements: Tolerant of many site conditions

Flower: White, nodding, bell-shaped, fragrant

Bloom Period: April

Foliage: Green

Fall Color: Insignificant

Urban Approved: No

Fruit Notes: Orange-red berry, poisonous

Suggested Uses

Lily of the Valley has been discontinued at Johnson’s Nursery due to its aggressive behavior and invasive potential. Historically the plant has been used for the dappled shade garden and has filled a role similar to Bishop’s Weed. It tolerates a wide range of soil conditions and will naturalize in many sites. All parts of the plant are poisonous, and it should not be sited near children’s play areas or where pet traffic is high.

Lily of the Valley is an adaptable, shade-tolerant, spreading perennial that has historically been used as a groundcover in the difficult shade garden…

Wildlife Value

Lily of the Valley has no wildlife value in Wisconsin. The flowers may serve as an opportunistic source of nectar and pollen, but rarely have we experienced anything visit them in large numbers in spring.

Maintenance Tips

Lily of the Valley requires little care but can be aggressive in the shade garden. It does not play well with others. Flowering may decline with age. If desired, you can divide the existing plants to encourage more blooms.

To remove the plant, we recommend using a glyphosate-based herbicide.

Lily of the Valley is an adaptable, shade-tolerant, spreading perennial that has historically been used as a groundcover in the difficult shade garden…

Pests/Problems

Aphids and spider mites may be problematic on Lily of the Valley during bad pest years. Treatment is not needed, however, as the plant is able to endure insect browsing.

Leaf Lore

All parts of the plant are poisonous and should not be consumed.

Lily of the Valley is native to Europe and is planted for its fragrant flowers and adaptability in the shaded garden. However, it is also an aggressive spreader than can make new plantings difficult.

Like Bishop’s Weed, Lily of the Valley is useful for beds where you don’t want to perform maintenance. But as we’ve found, even with a full mat of the plant, you may still have to constantly battle Buckthorn seedlings and volunteers from local street trees. In the end, you may have an easier time keeping your beds organized without aggressive perennials.

Companion Plants

Geranium, Hosta, Ferns, Pachysandra, and more are all excellent substitutes for Lily of the Valley. If you know how much moisture and light your site receives, we can recommend a number of beautiful, hardy replacements for your neglected shade beds.

Lily of the Valley is an adaptable, shade-tolerant, spreading perennial that has historically been used as a groundcover in the difficult shade garden…
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Written by Johnson's Nursery