The Easter Lily

by CARLA BASS, City Editor

No other flower brings to mind Easter morning than the Easter Lily. The are usually banked around the altar at the church, placed as a memorial to a loved one who is not there to celebrate the Resurrection of Christ and symbolizing the hope for everlasting life,

Before 1941, most all of the Easter Lily bulbs were exported to the United States from Japan. World War II put an end the dependence on Japan for the bulbs and the commercial bulb production shifted to the United States, which began to produce a more superior bulb that what was previously imported. Over 95% of the bulbs produced now come from only ten farms along the coast from Northern California and Southern Oregon.

The bulbs are shipped nationwide, potted, planted, and forced under controlled conditions to bloom in time for the Easter holiday. The one most often used now is a variety known as “Nellie White” which produces large, white trumpet shaped flowers.

The bulbs are never dormant and require constant care and attention to assure superior quality and cleanliness

The “shelf life” of the stark white, fragrant lily is limited unless properly cared for, but one the best methods is to place them in the ground for future blooms.

According to Texas A&M sources, “Easter Lilies prefer moderately moist, well-drained soil. Water the plant thoroughly when the soil surface feels dry to a light touch but avoid over-watering. If the pot is wrapped in decorative foil, be careful not to let the plant sit in trapped, standing water. For best results, remove the plant from decorative pots or covers, take it over the sink and water thoroughly until water seeps out of the pot’s drain holes to completely saturate the soil. Allow the plant to air for a few minutes and discard the excess water before replacing it back into its decorative pot cover.”

“To plant your Easter Lilies outside, prepare a well-drained garden bed in a sunny location with rich, organic matter. Use a well- drained planting mix, or a mix of one part soil, one part peat moss and one part perlite. Good drainage is the key for success with lilies. To ensure adequate drainage, raise the garden bed by adding good soil to the top of the bed, thus obtaining a deeper topsoil and a rise to the planting area.”

”Plant the Easter Lily bulbs 3 inches below ground level, and mound up an additional 3 inches of topsoil over the bulb. Plant bulbs at least 12 to 18 inches apart in a hole sufficiently deep so that the bulbs can be placed in it with the roots spread out and down, as they naturally grow. Spread the roots and work the prepared soil in around the bulbs and the roots, leaving no air pockets. Water in immediately and thoroughly after planting. Try not to allow the soil to heave or shift after planting.”

”As the original plants begin to die back, cut the stems back to the soil surface. New growth will soon emerge. The Easter Lilies, which were forced to bloom under controlled greenhouse conditions in March, bloom naturally in the summer. You may be rewarded with a second bloom later this summer, but most likely you will have to wait until next June or July to see your Easter Lilies bloom again.”

“Another planting tip to consider is that lilies like their roots in shade and their heads in the sun. Mulching helps conserve moisture in between waterings, keeps the soil cool and loose, and provides a fluffy, nutritious medium for the stem roots. Or, a more attractive alternative would be to plant a “living mulch,” or a low ground cover of shallow-rooted, complementary annuals or perennials. The stately Easter Lilies rising above lacy violas or primulas is not only aesthetically pleasing, but also sound gardening.”

Unless you prefer a stark white bank of lilies, they can be mixed with Stargazer Lilies, which are very similar in shape and form, producing beautiful, fragrant, white and magenta blooms.  For more color, other Asiatic Lilies can be combined in the planting.

 eASTER                  Dolly Madison’ Asiatic Lily    Easter Lily            Stargazer Lily

        

 

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