Lilies for Easter Day
April 05, 2015
By Jean Wofford/Victoria County Master Gardener
Edited by Charla Borchers Leon/Victoria County Master Gardener
PHOTOS CONTRIBUTED BY CHARLA BORCHERS LEON/VICTORIA COUNTY MASTER GARDENER
Look for an Easter lily plant that has plenty of buds because they will bloom and bring enjoyment longer with each bud opening into a beautiful flower.
The white Easter lily plant Lilium longiflorum introduces the Easter season and the beginning of spring. When selecting, choose one with buds and healthy dark green leaves that embrace the stem and accent the blooms as they appear.
We know Easter and spring are very near when we start to see the lovely, pure white Easter lilies in stores. At this time, these beauties are often purchased as decorations to be used on Easter day in our homes, as gifts, in churches and also to be placed in cemeteries.
The botanical name of the pristine white Easter lily is Lilium longiflorum. But we commonly call them Easter lilies because that is when they appear for sale. They are native to the Ryukyu Islands in southern Japan and are commonly grown in the United States.
American success story
Easter lilies are a true American success story. Before 1941, a majority of Easter lily bulbs came to America from Japan. The second World War ended that association and then production moved to the United States.
According to my research, an American soldier returned home after World War I with a suitcase filled with bulbs of the beautiful, pristine white Easter lily. Then he distributed them along the West Coast of the United States, and to this day, a large percentage of Easter lilies are grown in California and Oregon.
Easter lilies have a small marketing window of about two weeks when they are sold, and I read they had a wholesale value of $37.4 million 10 years ago in 1995.
A bit of tradition
Easter lilies are often used as a funeral flower in celebration and mourning. They are also widely used during the Easter season in churches and are often placed around the altar in memory or honor of a loved one.
I love the biblical references that are made to this beautiful flower. These include "consider the lilies of the field and how they grow" in the book of Matthew (New Testament). Also, lilies were found in the Garden of Gethsemane after Christ's sweat dropped to the ground during his final hours.
In churches, they are used during Easter to remember the resurrection of Jesus Christ and hope of life everlasting. Churches often have stained glass with Easter lilies on them as well.
The Easter lily is a popular Easter gift and seems to embody the season. It is a mark of hope, innocence and grace that serves as a beautiful reminder that Easter is a time for celebrating life.
If you have a gardener on your list, Easter lilies are very welcomed gifts. They are enjoyed for a couple of weeks, then can be planted in the garden or flower bed.
Choosing an Easter lily
When selecting an Easter lily, consider the following tips:
Try to get one that has buds so it lasts longer. Even during the budding stage, it is a lovely plant. The buds imitate the leaves in that the leaves are long and slender as are the buds. Be sure the leaves are strong and dark green. Try to find one that is full of leaves and has a strong stem.
Check the soil to make sure it isn't pulling away from the stem of the plant. If It is, the soil has been allowed to dry out and may compromise the health of the plant.
Always remove the foil or decorative pot before watering. Remember, it is always too easy to overwater.
After you purchase or have received your Easter lily, enjoy it for a few weeks. When the blooms start to wilt, plant it outside.
Planting my Easter lilies
I plant my Easter lilies in sun, shade or dappled shade. All the ones I have in my flower beds seem to be happy where they are. I feed them when I feed the other plants, and they grow, multiply and reward me with blooms year after year.
If you received an Easter lily this year, plant it in another couple of weeks. It very well will grace your garden this time next year.
The Gardeners' Dirt is written by members of the Victoria County Master Gardener Association, an educational outreach of Texas AgriLife Extension - Victoria County. Mail your questions in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77901; or firstname.lastname@example.org, or comment on this column at VictoriaAdvocate.com.
Happy Easter, happy spring from the Victoria County Master Gardeners
• Can be grown in gardens or containers.
• Is very salt tolerant; can be planted in seaside gardens.
• Plant with other pink, yellow or red lilies for color.
• Remember where planted; mark location of dormant bulbs.
• Forced into bloom for Easter; easy to grow outside.
• Blooms mid-spring in garden/landscape.
• Makes great focal point in flower beds.
• Without blooms, is still a very striking plant.
• Bulb resembles the garlic bulb with individual cloves.
• Has few to no pests.
• Can tolerate poor soils.
• Dies down and goes dormant when hot summer settles in.
• Will reward you in future years when planted after Easter.