Easter Lily Care
The Easter Lily, the traditional time-honored flower of Easter, is highly regarded as a joyful symbol of beauty, hope and life. The large trumpet-shaped fragrant white flower makes a meaningful gift that embodies the very essence of the celebration of Easter. Whether you plan to give the potted plants as a gift or use them to decorate your own home, the following tips will help ensure that your Easter Lilies thrive.Two of the greatest charms of the Easter lily are form and fragrance, so look for high quality plants that are aesthetically pleasing from all angles. Select medium to compact plants that are well-balanced and proportional in size – not too tall and not too short. For the longest possible period of enjoyment in your home, look for plants with flowers in various stages of ripeness. For example, the best selection would be a plant with just one or two open or partially open blooms, and three or more puffy, unopened buds of different sizes. The ripe puffy buds will open up within a few days, while the tighter ones will bloom over the next several days.
As the flowers mature, remove the yellow anthers before the pollen starts to shed. This gives longer flower life and prevents the pollen from staining the white flowers. When a mature flower starts to wither after its prime, cut it off to make the plant more attractive while you still enjoy the fresher, newly-opened blooms. When selecting plants, be sure to also check out the foliage: an abundance of dark, rich green foliage is not only attractive, but a vital sign of good plant health. The foliage should appear dense and plentiful, all the way down to the soil line, a good indicator of an active, healthy root system. In the home, Easter Lilies prefer moderately cool temperatures. Recommended daytime temperatures are 60 degrees to 65 degrees with slightly cooler night temperatures. Avoid placing plants near drafts, and avoid exposure to excess heat or dry air from appliances, fireplaces or heating ducts. The lily will thrive near a window in bright, indirect natural daylight, but avoid glaring, direct sunlight.
Easter Lilies prefer moderately moist, well-drained soil. Water the plant thoroughly when the soil surface feels dry to a light touch, but avoid over-watering. If the pot is wrapped in decorative foil, be careful not to let the plant sit in trapped, standing water. For best results, remove the plant from decorative pots or covers; take it over to the sink and water thoroughly until water seeps out of the pots drain holes to completely saturate the soil. Allow the plant to drain for a few minutes and discard the excess water before replacing it back into its decorative pot cover. The unopened blossoms may fail if there is insufficient moisture in the air, so it is a good idea to set the pot on top of a saucer filled with small stones and water, to provide extra humidity. Remove the faded flower heads promptly to prevent the plant from seeding, so that the plant’s energy can be devoted to feeding the bulb for next years flowers.
EASTER LILIES IN THE GARDEN
You can continue to grow your Easter lily after it has finished blooming although it is usually very difficult to force Easter lilies into bloom a second time indoors. Once your lily has finished blooming, place the pot in a sunny location in the home until all danger of frost has passed at which time you can move the pot to a sunny location outdoors (usually, sometime after May 15). Prepare a sunny location in the garden using a well drained commercial planting mix, or a mix of one part soil, one part peat moss and one part perlite. (Good drainage is essential for lilies.) Set the entire pot and plant into the ground until the foliage has died back, and then gently remove it from the pot and plant directly into the ground. Spread the root ball by gently pulling upward and outward from the center to loosen the clumped and matted roots. Plant it a little deeper than what it was growing in the pot (with the bulb about three inches below the soil surface). Lilies should be planted at least 12 to 18 inches apart in a deep enough hole that the bulbs can be placed in it with the roots spread out and down, as they naturally grow. Spread the roots and work the prepared soil in around the bulbs making certain that there are no air pockets around the roots. Water thoroughly after planting. Cover it with soil, mulch, and cut the stems back to the ground. Feed monthly with an all-purpose 10-10-10 water soluble fertilizer. New shoots should begin to appear in a short time, and with any luck, your lily may bloom again in the late summer. If your plant doesn’t flower later in the summer, they will flower the next summer in June.
Easter lilies are considered hardy even in cold climates but many are killed off by exposure to winter winds and sun. Be sure to provide winter protection by mulching the ground with a thick, generous layer of straw, leaves, evergreen boughs, wood chips or pine needles. Carefully remove the mulch in the spring to allow new shoots to come up and apply a good commercial 5-10-5 fertilizer, following the manufacturer’s recommendations. Alternatively, you may also dig the bulbs in the fall and store them indoors for planting in the following spring, the same way we do other tender bulbs such as canna. Remember, your Easter lily will not bloom in the garden in time for Easter next year. Its natural blooming period is June or July!
PET SAFETY WARNING
EASTER LILIES ARE HIGHLY TOXIC TO PETS.