Lilies, once considered too difficult for the average gardener to grow, have become a popular choice–with many options from the hybrids that have been developed. These beautiful, delicate flowers don’t require much in the way of pruning. The key is timing. Prune too soon, and you have hungry bulbs beneath the surface. Remove the flowers as soon as they wither, but wait on the stems so the bulbs get the full benefits of the nutrients they provide.
Prune spent flowers before the seed pods develop. Once the flowers are beginning to wilt and turn brown, remove them by clipping either directly behind the flower or about 1/4 to 1/3 of the way down the lily stem. Never remove more than 1/3 of the stem, however, as the leaves and stem are needed to provide nutrients to the bulb below, according to MikesBackYardGarden.org.
Allow the stems and leaves to dry completely. Let the stems and leaves do their job of feeding the bulb. If you find them unsightly as they begin to wither and turn brown, you can tuck them under the dirt, braid them so they aren’t so messy, or tuck them behind other plants or foliage.
Prune the dried-out stems by pulling them off the bulb. Grasp the stem and leaves and give a good, quick pull. Thoroughly dried stems and leaves will simply come off the bulb, and you can add them to your compost pile.
Prune the remaining stems by clipping a few inches above the ground. For stems that don’t disconnect with a quick pull, use pruning clippers to cut them off a few inches above the ground.