Walking into church Easter morning, the air is rich with the powerful scent of Easter lilies. But not just any lily, the prolific white lily, popularly known as the Easter lily. Its symbolic association with Christianity stems from Biblical references, but its association with Easter is evident in the shelves of blooming white lilies in grocery stores, nurseries, and even general stores.
Easter lilies are a sure sign of spring, for both Christians and non-Christians alike. Or, at least, it’s a sign that bears the hope of warmer temperatures to come. The Easter lily’s popularity is due to its prolific flower – the long, tubular, pristine white flower that opens like a trumpet, facing forward instead of upward.
Every single plant has a significant number of flowers, and each blossom omits a very fragrant aroma. The flowers appear at the top of a tall (some as tall as 3 feet), cylindrical stem adorned with multiple long, oval, draping leaves. The plant, like all lilies, grows from a bulb.
Lilium longiflorum is native to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan, although a very closely related Lilium formosana is found in Taiwan and has been associated with the Easter lily.
Tips For Choosing A Quality Easter Lily
Whilst northern climates enjoy Easter lilies in pots, the natural habitat is warmer with slightly cool soil. Easter lilies purchased for the season are forced plants. In order to get the most out of your plant, choose your potted plant wisely.
- Don’t choose one in full bloom, as its immediate glory will be short-lived.
- Choose a plant with buds ready to burst, from a tight bulb to a partially opened flower.
- Choose one with dense foliage and leaves that look evenly green and healthy right down to the soil.
- Look for insects (eggs, webbing, bugs, chewed leaves).
- Check for disease (dark spots on the leaves, crinkled leaves, wilted leaves).
- Choose a plant that is twice as tall as the plot but not outgrowing the pot.
Caring For Easter Lilies
Taking care of the potted Easter lily at home is just as important as caring for the plants outdoors. Remember, too, if you’re a pet lover, all lilies are extremely toxic to cats and can cause kidney failure. Here are some good points for a healthy, prolific Easter lily:
- Easter lilies need a bright, indirect sunny location.
- No drafts, neither from cold or hot sources.
- A preferred temperature for lilies is 60 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and only slightly cooler at night.
- Don’t overwater. Only water lilies when the soil becomes dry to the touch. That being said, don’t leave it dry for too long.
- Remove the yellow centers, the antlers, to prolong the blossoms and prevent the pollen from staining everything in its vicinity. It also helps allergy sufferers endure the presence of Easter lilies in their domain.
- Remove the decorative foil around the pot as this allows for too much water accumulation in the pot.
- Easter lilies suffer from both too much and too little water.
- Remove flowers once they fade and wither.
Let Them Bloom Again!
Easter lilies are not dead when the last flower falls. The bulb root is still very much alive, and with proper care, the plant may very well bloom again. Once the flowers have all died and fallen from the plant, clip the stem close to the base. Place in a cool, dark space and allow to dry out completely.
After several months, return the pot to a lighted space and start watering. Though it may take some time, the plant will sprout again and new flowers will appear. Alternately, try planting the now expired plant outdoors to enjoy the next season with a healthy bloom of white lilies.
There’s nothing stopping you from planting the lily outdoors once the risk of frost is past and the ground is warming up. Squirrels and chipmunks love to eat the bulb root. Consequently, a row of up-ended plastic forks surrounding the plant will protect it while it takes root. The plants don’t always survive the harshness of winter, but I’ve had Easter lilies bloom outdoors for several years in a row. Some other tips:
Tips For Another Season Of Easter Lilies
- Remove all the dead flowers and cut the stem at the soil line.
- Keep watering the plant until it’s safe to plant outdoors – after the risk of frost has passed.
- Choose a spot in the garden with full sun and soil that’s well-drained.
- Soil pH should be neutral. To maintain neutral soil, consider adding organic matter.
- Plant the Easter lily bulb to the same depth as you would if it was in a pot.
- Add organic mulch around the roots but not against the stem as this will cause rot.
- Add more mulch just before winter to protect the plant, but remove the mulch as the weather warms in the spring.
- Add more mulch or blood meal as soon as growth appears.
Be patient. Don’t expect much the first year outdoors. Sometimes it takes several years before the Easter lily blooms again. However, the rewards are worth the patience.
I sometimes use lilies in my work – they are beautiful and not so moody. It is a pity that now because of the situation in the world they can not be so easy find. It’s okay – let’s be optimistic!
Emily-Jane Hills Orford says
Thank you for your comment. I was disappointed this year as the stores here weren’t stocking Easter Lilies. Fortunately, I still have mine from previous years. You’re right, we must continued to be optimistic.