Easter Lilies

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easterlily2If you are lucky enough to have a potted Easter lily, you may wish to extend your enjoyment of its lovely blooms.

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.

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 the sink and water thoroughly until water seeps out of the pot’s drain holes to completely saturate the soil. Allow the plant to air for a few minutes and discard the excess water before replacing it in its decorative pot cover.

If you’d like to plant your Easter lilies outside, prepare a well-drained garden bed in a sunny location with rich, organic matter.

Plant Easter lily bulbs 3 inches below ground level, and mound up an additional 3 inches of topsoil over the bulb. This creates a slightly raised bed (with soil a few inches higher than the level around it) that will help with drainage and soil aeration. Plant at least 12 to 18 inches apart in a hole sufficiently wide so 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 and the roots, leaving no air pockets. Water in immediately and thoroughly after planting. Try not to allow the soil to heave or shift after planting.

As the original plants begin to die back, cut the stems back to the soil surface. New growth will soon emerge. Easter lilies, forced to bloom under controlled greenhouse conditions in March, bloom naturally in the summer. You may be rewarded with a second bloom later this summer, but most likely you will have to wait until next June or July to see them bloom again.

Another planting tip to consider is that lilies like their roots in shade and their heads in the sun. Mulching helps conserve moisture in between waterings, keeps the soil cool and loose, and provides a fluffy, nutritious medium for the stem roots. For a more attractive alternative, plant a “living mulch,” or a low ground cover of shallow-rooted, complementary annuals or perennials. The stately Easter lilies rising above lacy violas or primulas are not only aesthetically pleasing, but also sound gardening.

Easter lily bulbs are surprisingly hardy even in cold climates. Just be sure to provide winter protection by mulching the ground with a thick, generous layer of straw, pine needles, leaves, ground corncob, pieces of boxes or bags. Carefully remove the mulch in the spring to allow new shoots to come up, and your Easter lilies will keep on providing you beauty, grace, and fragrance in years to come.

 

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