Q. I wonder if you could
help me with a problem. For the past several years I have put my
Easter lilies in the ground after they've bloomed in the house and
they come up again in the fall and are usually about six to eight
inches tall when the frost kills the foliage. What can I do to get
them to begin growing for the summertime? Thanks!
A. The fragrant, pure white,
trumpet-shaped blooms of Easter lilies have traditionally been
enjoyed indoors as a potted plant (forced into bloom in time for
Easter), but the garden can be a permanent home for them as well.
Easter lilies grow from bulbs, just like other lilies, and if the
bulb is allowed to store-up enough energy, it will bloom again later
Easter lilies can be planted and grown outdoors in the garden. With
proper care, the bulbs will bloom year after year for many years, but
there's one catch - outdoor-planted Easter lilies won't bloom for
Easter, though, summertime is their normal bloom time.
Easter lilies can be planted outside after all danger of frost is
passed (customarily Memorial Day here in western Massachusetts).
Choose a spot outdoors that is sunny and has good drainage. Knock the
plant out of its pot, dig a hole deep enough so that the top of the
root ball is 6 inches deep in the soil, set the root ball in the
hole, then backfill the soil. Leave a slight depression to catch water.
Soon the stalk will begin to turn brown. This is normal, as the bulb
takes a little rest period. When the old stalk is completely
shriveled, cut it away. In not too long a new stalk will emerge, and
the lily bulb will bloom again, but this time it'll bloom in late summer.
Easter lilies will return for many years to provide summertime bloom
as long as they are given some winter protection. In late autumn,
after the ground freezes, apply a 3- to 4-inch layer of mulch such as winter
mulch. As new growth starts in spring, remove the layer of winter
mulch. If everything's okay, the Easter lily will again
bloom in late summer.
Even though it won't bloom on Easter, it's still worth planting an
Easter lily outdoors to enjoy its blooms summer after summer.
Click here to read more about winter
mulch and order it from Pernell Gerver's Online Store.