Home > Great Big Greenhouse Blog > April 2015 > LILIUM LONGIFLORUM


How did this lily come to be the “Easter Lily”?  It is a native of Japan, most certainly was not the “lily of the field” from the Sermon on the Mount, and its natural bloom time is early summer.
White lilies have long been associated with purity and resurrection.  Other species of white lily can be found in religious paintings from the Middle Ages to the present, and there are many references to white lilies in the Bible and in legends of the saints.  Once the beautiful large white flowers of Lilium longiflorum became accessible, it was naturally designated as the “Easter Lily”. 

The Easter Lily now ranks fourth in potted flowering plant crops in the United States, behind poinsettias, mum, and azaleas.  That’s pretty impressive for a plant that needs to sell during a two-week period for a holiday that is celebrated at a different time each year, the date being set by celestial forces sometime between late March and late April (the first Sunday after the first full moon following the vernal equinox*.)  Growers pot the bulbs in the fall, and must contend with varying temperatures and day length to get the lily to the perfect stage for the Easter celebration.

Place a flowering lily in a bright indirect light location away from a heat duct.  Keep the soil evenly moist but not saturated.  Removing the yellow anthers before the pollen is ripe will prolong the life of the flower.  Be aware that lily bulbs are very toxic for cats.

Once the beautiful flowers have shriveled or fallen off, keep the Easter Lily in a bright location and do not remove the leafy flower stalk.  These leaves will continue to make energy for next year’s flowers and will die back on their own.  Water when the surface soil is dry to the touch and do not allow the roots to stand in water—bulbs need very good drainage.  After frost, plant the lily in a sunny, well-drained location in the garden with the bulb about 3” below the surface.  As the leafy stem begins to die back, cut it off just above the soil line.  A healthy bulb will soon put up new growth, but will likely not flower again until the next summer.  Mulch lightly around the base of the stems to retain moisture and shade the roots.

*By the way, if you do not remember the equinoxes from your science classes, an equinox is the moment when the sun is directly overhead on the equator and night and day are almost equal—12 hours each (equinox means equal night.)  This happens twice each year, in the spring around March 20, and in the fall around September 22.  What we call the spring equinox is called the autumnal equinox in Australia, as they are heading into winter as we head into spring.
Posted: 4/14/2015 by Margot | with 0 comment(s)
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