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Lily of the valley

Lily of the valley in flower.

This vigorous, shade-loving ground cover has broad green leaves and stands 6 to 8 inches tall. In mid-spring, charming white bell-shaped flowers with a sweet scent dangle along short stems. Lily-of-the-valley spreads rapidly by sprouting from underground stems and may crowd out other plants.


Botanical name:

Convallaria majalis

All common names:

Lily-of-the-Valley, Lily of the Valley, Lady's tears

Family (English):


Family (Botanic):


Tree or Plant Type:

  • Ground cover,
  • Perennial


  • Deciduous (seasonally loses leaves)

Native Locale:

  • Non-native

Landscape Uses:

  • Foundation,
  • Massing,
  • Mixed border,
  • Patio/sidewalk

Size Range:

  • Small plant (6-12 inches),
  • Low-growing plant (under 6 inches)

Light Exposure:

  • Partial sun/shade (4-6 hrs light daily),
  • Full shade (4 hrs or less of light daily)

Hardiness Zones:

  • Zone 2,
  • Zone 3,
  • Zone 4,
  • Zone 5 (Chicago),
  • Zone 6,
  • Zone 7,
  • Zone 8

Soil Preference:

  • Moist, well-drained soil


  • Occasional drought,
  • Alkaline soil,
  • Road salt

Seasons of Interest:

  • early spring,
  • mid spring,
  • late spring

Flower Color & Fragrance:

  • Fragrant,
  • White

Shape or Form:

  • Creeping,
  • Upright

Growth Rate:

  • Fast

More Information:

Size and Form

6 to 8 inches tall; this is a colony-forming ground cover that will spread rapidly.  Colonizing ground covers produce underground stems that spread out horizontally and shallowly, produce roots and then send up new shoots.  These plants are strong growers and may have the potential to grow aggressively.

Tree & Plant Care

An old-fashioned aggressive ground cover. Tolerant of most soil types, but best in well-drained loamy soil. Tolerant of drought.
If flower productions decreases over time, divide clumps.
Can crowd out other plants.

Disease, pests and problems

Anthracnose (fungus) and slugs can be problematic.
This plant grows very aggressively.

Native geographic location and habitat

Native to Europe.

Leaf or needle arrangement, size, shape, and texture

Elongated leaves in groups of twos and threes; entire leaf edges.

Flower arrangement, shape, and size

Tiny white, bell-shaped waxy flowers  appear on erect green stalks in spring;  very fragrant.

Fruit, cone, nut, and seed descriptions

Flowers may be followed by orange berries later in season.  These berries are poisonous.



Location of Convallaria majalis (Lily of the valley) at the Arboretum