European Lily of the Valley, May Bells, Our Lady's Tears

Convallaria majalis

Family: Asparagaceae
Genus: Convallaria (kon-vuh-LAIR-ee-uh) (Info)
Species: majalis (maj-AY-liss) (Info)
Synonym:Convallaria latifolia
Synonym:Convallaria linnaei
Synonym:Convallaria mappii
Synonym:Convallaria transcaucasica
Synonym:Polygonatum majale
View this plant in a garden



Foliage Color:

Unknown - Tell us

Bloom Characteristics:

This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds

Flowers are fragrant

Water Requirements:

Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater

Where to Grow:

Unknown - Tell us


6-12 in. (15-30 cm)


9-12 in. (22-30 cm)


USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 C (-30 F)

USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 C (-25 F)

USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 C (-20 F)

USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 C (-15 F)

USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 C (-10 F)

USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 C (-5 F)

USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 C (0 F)

USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 C (5 F)

USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 C (10 F)

USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 C (15 F)

Sun Exposure:

Light Shade


All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested

Bloom Color:


White/Near White

Bloom Time:

Mid Spring

Late Spring/Early Summer


Grown for foliage




Other details:

May be a noxious weed or invasive

Soil pH requirements:

5.6 to 6.0 (acidic)

6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic)

6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)

Patent Information:


Propagation Methods:

By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)

Seed Collecting:

Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds

Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible


This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:

Birmingham, Alabama

Anchorage, Alaska

Merced, California

San Bruno, California

Colorado Springs, Colorado

Denver, Colorado

Winterville, Georgia

Carol Stream, Illinois

Godfrey, Illinois

Hampton, Illinois

Peoria, Illinois

Tuscola, Illinois

Washington, Illinois

Newburgh, Indiana

Council Bluffs, Iowa

Decorah, Iowa

Johnston, Iowa

Ewing, Kentucky

Russell, Kentucky

Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Lisbon, Maine

Skowhegan, Maine

Cumberland, Maryland

Billerica, Massachusetts

Halifax, Massachusetts

Mashpee, Massachusetts

Waltham, Massachusetts

Winchester, Massachusetts

Bay City, Michigan

Lake Orion, Michigan

Owosso, Michigan

Pinconning, Michigan

South Lyon, Michigan

Utica, Michigan

Braham, Minnesota

Minneapolis, Minnesota

New Ulm, Minnesota

Saint Cloud, Minnesota

Saint Paul, Minnesota

Blue Springs, Missouri

Piedmont, Missouri

Lincoln, Nebraska

Auburn, New Hampshire

North Walpole, New Hampshire

Mount Laurel, New Jersey

Verona, New Jersey

Alden, New York

Baldwinsville, New York

Bolton Landing, New York

Buffalo, New York

Elba, New York

Fleischmanns, New York

Greene, New York

Himrod, New York

Schenectady, New York

Syracuse, New York

Troy, New York

West Babylon, New York

Brevard, North Carolina

Elizabeth City, North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Winston Salem, North Carolina

Belfield, North Dakota

Medora, North Dakota

Glouster, Ohio

Jamestown, Ohio

Niles, Ohio

Dallas, Oregon

Portland, Oregon (4 reports)

Salem, Oregon

Albrightsville, Pennsylvania

Greencastle, Pennsylvania

Greensburg, Pennsylvania

Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania

Lansdowne, Pennsylvania

Malvern, Pennsylvania

Telford, Pennsylvania

Watsontown, Pennsylvania

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

Conway, South Carolina

Greenville, South Carolina

Hendersonville, Tennessee

Viola, Tennessee

Austin, Texas

Houston, Texas

Farmington, Utah

Salt Lake City, Utah (2 reports)

Tremonton, Utah

Leesburg, Virginia

Oakton, Virginia

Palmyra, Virginia

Springfield, Virginia

Stafford, Virginia

Bellevue, Washington

Cheney, Washington

Kalama, Washington

Kirkland, Washington

Woodinville, Washington

Oconomowoc, Wisconsin

Spooner, Wisconsin

Stevens Point, Wisconsin

Watertown, Wisconsin

show all

Gardeners' Notes:


On Aug 21, 2015, Ted_B from Birmingham, AL (Zone 8a) wrote:

The invasive nature of this plant seems to be tempered in zones with prolonged, hot summers. Otherwise, even casually dug rhizomes transplant well with little effort, and survive with minimal care in dappled shade other than ensuring the soil isn't subjected to prolonged dryness in hot weather.


On Feb 27, 2014, coriaceous from ROSLINDALE, MA wrote:

This species thrives as far north as Z2.

It isn't an invasive threat to natural areas, but it can be quite aggressive in the garden. Because of its aggressive spreading, it does not make a good border perennial. It is much more aggressive in the northern part of its range (to Z6) than in the south.

This species makes an acceptable groundcover in shade, though the foliage generally looks ragged from July on. It's a reliable groundcover for difficult dry shade where few other plants will grow, though it grows much better with regular moisture.


On Oct 7, 2013, Noodlethecat from Portland, OR wrote:

I've had this in a bed since I bought the house in 2007 and it's never grown much beyond its boundaries. I just dug it up to move it to a difficult spot under some trees and hope it's just as reliable there.

I have heard of its invasiveness however it seems to be in cooler zones, I'm 8b and it seems to be reliable but restrained here. Mine has always flowered and berries in fall.


On Mar 25, 2011, RosemaryK from Lexington, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:

This is probably the easiest plant I know to start and to grow into a large colony for groundcover. The leaves do not particularly die out in summer around here as long as the plant is grown in the shade. The delicate fragrant flowers in spring are a bonus. It's always OK to let the kids pick them because they are so plentiful.


On Apr 16, 2010, bungalow1056 from Winston-Salem, NC (Zone 7b) wrote:

Nothing reminds a southern fellow of his grandmother more than the scent of lily of the valley in springtime.


On Jun 22, 2009, shadydame from North Walpole, NH (Zone 5a) wrote:

I'm not sure what to think of my lily of the valley plants. I originally planted them as bulbs, and for 2 years, they didn't really come up. Thinking them dead, my husband tilled the slope they were planted on this spring, & now, I have 17 of them and have had to move them closer together. Only a few of them actually flowered, and right now, they are being eaten to death (by slugs, I think.) I think I'll allow them to stay and see how they do next year.


On Oct 13, 2008, eliasastro from Athens
Greece (Zone 10a) wrote:

Very irregular blooming.
I believe they need really cold winters to flower well.
This winter i will add ice cubes on the ground and see if it works.


On May 15, 2008, atprocks from Piscataway, NJ wrote:

I live in NJ (Zone 6) and Im having trouble growing this plant. I have planted several pips early this spring in my backyard(quite shady) where I had a number of Hostas. So far I dont see a single pip shooting up.

I had planted one lily of valley plant in my front yard last spring(2007) and this year it came back but it didn't flower at all.

Does this plant takes few years to show up or to get establish ? . I thought this was a very easy growing plant.


On May 5, 2008, minnasnowtan from Braham, MN (Zone 3b) wrote:

I had a large cluster of these plants in the yard, under a large oak tree, where I used to live. They were there when I moved in. I found it easy enough to contain the plants by simply mowing them off where they grew out into the yard. I also dug out a few of these each spring and shared them with friends.
I love these flowers and got several plants from my sister 2 years ago to plant at my new house. They bloomed last year and are spreading some this year, much to my joy! I planted them with hastas and bleeding heart. The other plants fill out the space left when the lilies die back so there is no ugly blank space in the garden.
The garden they're in is a raised bed so I won't be able to simply mow them off if they get too invasive, but that is a problem I am looking forwa... read more


On Jan 31, 2008, DATURA12 from Fort Worth, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:

I adore this plant, it grew like crazy back home in Pa., this is my 4th try trying to get this to grow in Texas. I should be so lucky to have this one be invasive. These and violas or as we called them blue bells were one of the first signs of spring. I used to pick them and put them in a little vase, they smelled throughout the house.


On May 10, 2007, MsKatt from Mid-Michigan, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:

One of my all-time favorite flowers! I remember picking hundreds of them when I was a child...the sweet scent was always a harbinger of Spring.

I have a hill that is very deep shade and it's literally covered by hundreds if not thousands of these beauties. I've dug some and transplanted them in other shady spots and they are doing wonderfully. I have not had a problem with them being invasive. They DO like it moist, humus-rich and shady. I'm zone 5b/6a


On Jun 16, 2006, Pashta from Moncks Corner, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:

Very light scent. Beautiful white blooms. Needs alot of moisture I have found, at least for me they did. Bloomed nicely in pots, but I would prefer to put them in the ground. They should naturalize themselves nicely in a somewhat shady location.


On May 25, 2006, JoieM from Portland, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:

I planted about 4-5 pips 2 years ago. they doubled and I transplanted them to a new part of the yard early this spring. They have still NEVER bloomed. I am craving this amazing fragrance I keep reading about. Why am I not getting any blooms?


On May 25, 2006, chahn from anchorage, AK (Zone 4a) wrote:

I bought a start of this plant several years ago at a garden club sale. I placed it in my perenial garden and forgot about it because it was not noteworthy. I expected a larger bloom etc. It has come back every year and each year there are a few more. We are having a very late spring and they are just growing maybe 4-6 inches tall in the garden. My husband asked me what was on our southern exposure hill. It is COVERED with lily of the valley. I have never seen so many ever in this location. The location is shaded by many tall trees and so steep that I never even venture on the hill. The lily of the valley must have traveled from the flat garden in the back yard at least 15 feet to be so prolific on the steep hill. Now I am unsure if it will take water from the trees to continue ... read more


On Apr 14, 2006, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:

I have had this plant in my yard for over 40 years. It was planted by my great grandmother before she died. It dies off during the summer here. Maybe it's the hot summers that keep it from becoming invasive. I have no more trouble with it spreading than daylilies or cannas. It seems to come up here in the spring before anything else.


On Jan 16, 2006, Gabrielle from (Zone 5a) wrote:

This isn't the best looking plant most of the year and tends to take over, in some areas more than others, but when in bloom, its scent is heavenly. I have read that it is hardy in zones 2-10. Blooms in May in my garden.


On Jan 13, 2006, ZaksGarden from Winston Salem, NC wrote:

I grow Lily of the Valley in a small 12 foot corner of my garden. This area has a thick canopy of dogwood trees all summer so the plants grow in full shade. I have only been growing these plants for 2 years myself, and so far I have not found them invasive at all. I love their blooms, and although they are not the largest and most spectacular, they are still a great contrast to bleeding heart or hostas.


On Nov 20, 2004, pokerboy from Canberra
Australia (Zone 8b) wrote:

I really like the lily of the valley plant because of its fragrance and lush foliage. I have a compact clump in a pot which dries out quite regulary and every shoot produces a marvellous flower. I think the dryness is the problem in terms of it not spreading. Thats right, I want it to spread, I want it to become a weed in my garden. I hope it happens soon. A great plant to try. pokerboy.


On Oct 17, 2004, MsMaati from Newburgh, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:

I love the smell of the little bells. Reminds me of my Granny. They can be invasive but they are really nice in a deep shade area that has defined perameters. I have mine above the riprap of a creek that runs diagonally through my yard. They stay in that area and have not wandererd out. It took several years to get a real thick growth, but now they are beginning to do well. I would not plant them next to or in any of my flower beds, but this area that I have them in is difficult. Nothing but English Ivy and Lily of the Valley will grow there. Both are invasive but that is what I need there.


On May 31, 2004, kim1964hay from Carol Stream, IL wrote:

Extremely invasive, actually pushed through asphalt driveway. Impossible to kill, somehow a little survives and then spreads like wildfire. Digging helps to keep it from completely taking over. One positive comment though, it has a lovely fragrance.


On Mar 18, 2004, HarryNJ from Ocean Grove, NJ (Zone 7a) wrote:

Have to agree totally with Sue. It can spread over 6 feet in a single season in loose sandy soil. In mulched areas it is somewhat easier to remove as it seems to prefer to lay its runners right at the junction of the soil and the mulch, so you can just push back the mulch and rip it off the top of the soil. You have to be careful to get every bit of the runners however, as the tiniest piece with a node will quickly regrow. I tolerate it in a couple difficult places, but it really isn't worth giving any prominence in the garden. It can tolerate extremely deep shade (in fact the foliage looks better in shade) and bone-dry soil and still thrive, but it is in bloom less than a week (always seems to time it's blooming with the first heat wave), and turns an unattractive yellow-brown early in th... read more


On Mar 8, 2004, sue1952 from Utica, MI wrote:

In SE Michigan - this plant is very invasive. I am constantly digging it up to keep it under control - spreads rapidly thru underground system - you have to virtually dig up an entire area and sift out the plants.
Too much trouble.


On Mar 19, 2003, CanadaGoose from Oakville, ON (Zone 5b) wrote:

I have been growing Convallaria for several years and love them. The clumps expand fairly slowly but enough that I have been able to expand my original clump to about 8 in the back yard and another 4 in the front yard over an 8 year period. They divide easily. Back clumps are in dappled shade under fruit trees and flower at about the same time as the trees start to lose their own flowers and leaf out. Front clumps are in full sun part of the day. Scent is heavenly.


On Mar 18, 2003, Bug_Girl from San Francisco, CA wrote:

I finally got this plant to grow, after giving up entirely on it. I find it to be very difficult in my zone, so I am not sure if I should zipcode it to my area.


On Aug 30, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:

An individual plant consists of two or three boardly oval, pointed leaves up to 8" long; underground rhizomes for gradually expanding clumps that create a thick carpet of foliage. (From the Sunset Easy-Care Gardening book)


On Nov 17, 2000, jody from MD &, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:

Lily of the Valley are highly scented, low growing of 8" to 12" high and will spread as much as you let them by pips, or rhizomes. They have small bell shaped flowers in spring. There are several cultivars that consist of pink flowers, gold foliage, or varigated foliage. Best cultivated in part in part shade, well draining soil. May overcrowd if confined and will need to be thinned. Propagte by division or seed. Hardy zones 3-9.