Monday, May 2, 2011

Plant Your Easter Lily in the Garden

Thousands of lovely Easter lilies were part of the celebration and most will be relegated to the rubbish bin, discarded as useless. However since the flowering lily springs from a bulb your plant may be easily integrated into the garden to provide beauty for many years to come.

Easter Lilies usually bloom in summer but were ‘forced’ to bloom early for Easter so do not expect any more action until next year; the bulb needs to rest. The lily enjoys sun on her head but a coolness about her feet, so pick a sunny place in the garden and tuck the bulb amongst other guests. Also, our driving winds or extreme heat may adversely affect the lily, so a site with some afternoon shelter and shade is preferable.

As you pull your lily from the pot, you will notice the extreme root growth that has occurred from being in a greenhouse under conditions which provided the premature blooms. If the roots are tightly bound in a circular pattern, the lily was grown in too small a pot and is ‘root bound’. The roots must be loosened and spread out to allow the poor thing to grow without strangling itself. Loosen the roots and it will not harm the bulb if some are cut back a bit.

Root Binding must be eased~

Dig a hole that is twice the width of the root ball and five or six inches deeper. Work some potting soil into it and then plant your lily, spreading the newly loosened roots down and out. Often there will be three bulbs in a standard Easter lily pot so carefully divide them and plan on planting them six or seven inches apart. Fill the hole with soil, and water while working your hands in the mush. Jiggle and wiggle the plant while looking for air bubbles to surface and when no more appear, there are no hidden pockets to cause rot. Once the water level has receded, lightly water once again.

Cut off the wilting flowers, but wait to cut back the foliage until it appears yellow; the foliage will nourish the bulb and help store energy for flowers next year. The unforced flowers will appear on time... in the early summer when the lily normally blooms. Your lily will live for many years, reminding you of the joyous occasion when it was introduced as a guest at an Easter gathering.

*This spring I noted the profusion of flowers available at almost all retail outlets. Many have been forced like the lilies and flowers which normally bloom in mid to late summer are in full bloom now. The novice gardener may be lured into purchase by appearance and is often unaware the blooms are practically spent; the plant will not bloom again this year. To avoid expensive mistakes, perhaps plant a packet of seeds... they will not provide an instant garden but watching them grow to adulthood is a daily thrill.