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Connecticut Garden Journal: Easter Lily

Apr 6, 2017

There are symbolic flowers for many holidays we celebrate: Poinsettias for Christmas, shamrocks for St. Patrick's Day, and lilies for Easter. 

While the Easter lily is a bulb lily that originated in southern Japan, the U.S. center of production is the Northern California and Oregon coast. 

This time of year, we buy Easter lilies in pots that have been forced in greenhouses to bloom right before Easter.

When selecting Easter lilies, look for plants that have green leaves all the way to the bottom of the stem. Also look for six to eight buds with some buds just opening and others still closed.

Keep them in a brightly-lit, cool, 60-degree room. Raise the temperatures to speed up the blooming cycle.

After all the flowers fade, don't just toss the Easter lily in the compost.

Easter lilies are hardy to Zone 7. They can be planted outdoors in a protected spot, especially along the coast. I even got an Easter lily to come back the next year and bloom again in my Zone 5 garden by planting it close to the house and mulching the area in fall.

Since you can't keep them as house plants, it's best to plant in spring after all danger of frost has passed in a sunny, well-drained soil location.

Plant so the bulbs are three inches deep, then mulch the planting to keep the soil moist. Cut back the foliage after it yellows in summer.

If they survive, don't expect them to bloom at Easter next year. They're more likely to bloom in early summer along with the other lilies in your garden.

Next week on the Connecticut Garden Journal, I'll be talking about beets. Until then, I'll be seeing you in the garden.