Convallaria (Lily-of-the-valley)


Convallaria majalis is a mono genus (single species). Grown for its large lance-shaped leaves and arching sprays of small, fragrant, bell-shaped flowers.

Not recommended for domestic gardens due to its high toxicity.

Family: Asparagaceae (Asparagus family)
Botanical Name: Convallaria
Common Names: Lily of the valley, May lily

Foliage: Deciduous, broad lance-shaped, mid green leaves.

Flowers: Delicate, small white, bell-shaped flowers, arranged in loose sprays. Strongly scented. Followed by red berries in autumn.

Flowering Period: April-May.

Soil: Moist, humus rich, fertile soil. Clay or loam. Any pH.

Conditions: Partial to full shade. Plant in a north, east or west facing aspect, in a sheltered position.

Habit: Low growing, mat forming.

Type: Rhizomatous perennial.

Origin: Europe, North America and Asia.

Hardiness: Fully hardy in all of the UK.

Toxicity: Poisonous. Highly toxic if ingested. Can cause severe dermatitis if touched. Wear gloves when handling.

Planting and Growing Convallaria

Thrives in a partially-shaded positions. Requires a humus-rich, moderately fertile, moist soil (but not waterlogged). Plant crowns in the autumn at least 6in (15cm) apart. Water well until established.

Prefers light shade but can adjust to full sun if the soil is kept moist.

Ideal as ground cover in a moist shady spot. Spreads rapidly if the conditions are ideal and can become invasive once established.

Popular as cut flowers.

Taking Care of Convallaria

Do not allow the soil to totally dry out. Dislikes disturbance, so do not lift the roots except for propagation.

Mulch with leaf-mould, spent compost or bark chippings, after the leaves yellow and die down in the autumn.

Pruning Convallaria

No pruning necessary.

Pests and Diseases

Generally pest and disease free. Although a grey mould fungus can develop in very wet sites.

Propagating Convallaria

Lift and divide established clumps when dormant, between autumn and early spring.

Sow seed thinly as soon as it is ripe.

Popular Varieties of Convallaria

Convallaria majalis is the only species. Average height 6-8in (15-20cm). Good cultivars include:

  • 'Fortin's Giant' with large scented flowers.
  • 'Rosea' with lilac-pink flowers.
  • 'Variegata' with attravtive golden striped leaves.