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Making Easter Lilies Last

To ensure proper care of your Easter lily, water regularly, letting the soil

dry slightly between waterings.

The intense fragrance and elegant form of the Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum) with its white, trumpet flowers makes it a holiday favourite. How can you choose the best plant and help prolong its life, even after the holiday?

When buying a pot ted Easter lily, choose a symmetrical, sturdy plant with a high flower bud count. Pick plants with dark-green, healthy foliage. Poor watering practices can lead to root rot and the loss of lower leaves. Growers often remove yellow foliage and use colourful foil or pot covers to hide the base of poorly grown lilies.

Pick a plant with just the first flower or two opening to have more time to enjoy the floral display. Avoid those with signs of insect or disease damage.

To ensure proper care of your Easter lily, water regularly, letting the soil dry slightly between waterings. Place the plant in a cool location with bright, indirect light. Remove anthers (the part of the stamen that releases pollen) from opening flowers. The bright-yellow pollen can stain the white trumpet. In addition, if pollen reaches the tip of the pistil and pollination occurs, it can reduce the life of the petals.

In Europe and Asia, Easter lilies are forced into flower and enjoyed throughout the year as a cut flower, much like Asiatic and oriental lilies. What should you do with your Easter lily after the holiday? To prevent the spread of “lily symptomless virus,” carried by commercial lilies, discard it.

If you do decide to plant your Easter lily outside, remember it’s not reliably hardy. The Easter lily does best in locations receiving half a day or more of full sun.

– David Zlesak, PhD, is an educator in horticulture

with University of Minnesota Extension

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