by Susan Harris
Behold the mighty Easter Lily, known for its huge trumpet-shaped flowers and awesome fragrance – its time is near!
Easter Lilies (Lilium longiflorum) are native to Japan and were first brought to the States by a World War I soldier, who packed his suitcase full of them when he went home to Oregon. They became a popular import until the supply from Japan was cut off after the attack on Pearl Harbor and their price skyrocketed, which prompted U.S. growers to get into the business of growing them more locally.
How to Make Sure they Bloom for Easter
Shown on the right is Homestead’s head grower Oliver Storm demonstrating an important step in timing Easter Lily blooms perfectly – for Easter. He’s using a chart+measuring device that tells him exactly what temperature a lily needs to be stored at in order for its blooms to open at a particular time. So if this one is too long, it’ll be moved to a cooler part of the greenhouse for a specified period of time. The take-away message for this gardener is: Don’t try this at home!
- Select a plant with flowers and buds in various stages of development, from buds to partially opened flowers.
- Look for dense foliage that goes all the way down the stem to the soil line and is uniformly a healthy, green color.
- Reject any plant showing signs of insects or disease (chewed leaves, dark spots, wilting), which you’re more likely to see on plants sold at grocery stories and other nongardening outlets.
Easter Lily Care in the House
Here’s how to keep your Easter Lilies blooming:
- Place the lilies in bright, but indirect sunlight.
- Protect them from drafts and heat sources, including appliances.
- Remove the yellow anthers from the flower centers – to prolong the life of the blossoms and prevent the pollen from staining your hands, clothing, tablecloths, etc.
- Best daytime temperature for lilies is 60 – 65 degree F.
- Water the your Easter Lily only when the soil becomes dry to the touch, but don’t leave it dry for an extended period of time.
- If the lily’s pot is in a decorative foil wrapper, be sure water is not accumulating there. Remember that more plants die from over-watering than under-watering.
- Remove flowers as they fade and wither.
Enjoy! And Happy Easter from Homestead Gardens and Growers.
Top photo by Creative Director, Melanie McCabe.