The Easter Lily – what to do when the flowers are gone?

Receiving a potted Easter Lily is a holiday tradition for many families, and judging by the numbers sold in retail stores and greenhouses a great many homes have an Easter Lily this year. For many, the beautiful trumpet-like white flowers and heavenly scent symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life – the spiritual essence of Easter and the arrival of spring.

In the home, Easter Lilies prefer moderately cool temperatures, 60-65 degrees. Place your lily in a window with bright, indirect light. These plants prefer a moderately moist, well-drained soil. Remove any decorative foil to avoid over-watering, and allow the soil surface to dry to the touch between waterings.

After the flowers have faded, continue to water thoroughly as needed, and add one teaspoon of a slow-release fertilizer, such as Osmocote, every 6 weeks.

Plant your lily outside in a sunny, well-drained location, after all danger of frost has passed, typically around May 15 for central Iowa. Be sure to fluff and gently spread out the roots before planting and water well after planting. Adding a layer of mulch helps to maintain moisture and keeps the plant roots cool.

Though these plants do well in greenhouse, they are only marginally hardy to Iowa winters. In the late fall, mulch your lily well to provide winter protection. Carefully remove the mulch in the spring to allow new shoots to come up in the spring. With luck, you will enjoy your lily blooms again another season.

Did you know? The Latin name for the Easter Lily is Lilium longiflorum (pronounced LIL-ee-um lon-ji-FLOH-rum). Deciphering the name is easy Lilium is the lily’s family name, longiflorum refers to its elongated flower form.

For further information on growing Easter Lilies or other gardening questions, contact Yvonne McCormick at yvonne@iastate.edu