Easter Lilies, and the Number One Gardening Question Right Now

Everybody asks about Easter lilies! Can they go outside; can I plant them in my garden? And to this I reply, "Why not?" Like other bulbs, there are two options if you plant your leftover Easter lily bulbs - either they will live and flower for many years (it is perfectly hardy into zone 4) or they will immediately die. If you don't plant the bulb, it will definitely die. So you have nothing to lose by planting.

Once the Easter lily bloom has faded in the house, cut the stem back as far as you can. Grow the plant in a sunny windowsill, keeping it moist (not sopping) and feed weekly with houseplant food. After all danger of frost has passed wherever you live, you can plant it outdoors. Planting outdoors is as easy as digging a hole and planting so that the top of the bulb will be three inches below the surface.

Add a shovel of compost and a shovel of peat moss to the planting hole and ensure the soil is well loosened. Remember it is necessary to dig a large enough hole to spread the lily roots out and to ensure it is at least eighteen inches from another plant. Place the bulb in the bottom of the planting hole and backfill the soil up to the neck of the bulb - do not cover the green leaves. Covering the green leaves at this time could rot them.

Wait until the leaves have turned yellow and faded before totally filling in the hole. After you've planted the bulb, water it thoroughly. Carefully water and turn the area into a mudhole so no air spaces are left around the bulb. The original foliage may die back immediately after planting. If this happens, cut the foliage right back to the bulb and then backfill the hole. Do not be surprised to see a new set of leaves emerge from the hole. Water thoroughly after backfilling.

The key to success with growing Easter lilies is to give the tops full sun but to shade the roots. Hot tops and cold feet would describe this growing condition. Also, excellent drainage is essential for bulb success. Poor drainage or clay soils will rot the bulb over winter because of excessive moisture.

Remember the normal time for the lily to bloom is mid-summer. The first planting year you may see a bloom in mid-summer but the likelihood is that the bulb will wait for next year to bloom again. Your job is to grow the bulb. Do not cut off leaves until they are well faded and quite yellow. Do not pin them up so other plants can grow next to the lily. You want those leaves to stretch out and absorb as much sunlight as possible because they are feeding the bulb and making next year's flower bud.

And next year's Easter lily bulb is what you're looking for, and the one after that, and the one after that too. If you're looking for other bulb information, check out this website. To contact the author, use the email form at http://www.flower-garden-bulbs.com/gardeningtips.html

copright Doug Green 2005

Doug Green Award winning garden author

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