Easter lilies delight with an abundance of large trumpet-shaped white flowers that exude a sweet and beautiful fragrance, and un uncanny ability to bloom at precisely Easter each year. White lilies symbolize purity, hope and peace, and enjoy a long association with the Christianity, dating back to the bible. What we refer to as the Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum) is however originally native to Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands of Japan, where they were traditionally grown and then imported into the US until the 1940’s. Today American growers exclusively supply our market. Easter lilies would naturally only bloom in summer and are therefore forced by growers to bloom at Easter.
Easter lilies can either be kept indoors and treated as a houseplant, or alternatively they can be planted outdoors as a hardy perennial bulb. Indoors plants perform best when kept in bright light, ideally near a window, under even temperatures and away from any cold drafts. Cooler temperatures will always prolong the lifespan of your flowers. When watering always err on the dry side if you are unsure, otherwise simply allow plants to dry between waterings. These lilies are highly poisonous to cats.
Fortunately for us gardeners lilies can be planted outdoors and enjoyed from year to year. Be aware that plants are not initially hardened, so wait until temperatures are pleasant before moving them outdoors to avoid cold damage. Plant bulbs roughly twice the depth of the bulb, or 3” deep. Once outdoors plants thrive in full to part sun, and a well-drained garden soil. Fertilize annually with a bulb fertilizer in autumn and cover with mulch for the winter.
Note that plants will most likely become taller in a garden setting in following years, up to 3ft, so plan accordingly when selecting a location. Lilies benefit from being interplanted with other plants as they enjoy having their ‘feet’ shaded. Surrounding plants will also help stabilize plants which might otherwise require staking when mature. Remember that plants will flower in summer, so do not plan on having them for Easter.
Latin Name: Lilium longiflorum
Light: Part to full sun
Bloom Color: White
Bloom Period: Summer
Height: 2-3 ft
Spread: 1 ft