A frequent question I get is “I received this Easter Lily so what do I do?” First you must either take that foil wrap off or poke holes in the bottom so the water drains as Lily bulbs rot easily.  They like moisture but not water.  If you have a cool spot the blooms will last much longer and if you cut out the anthers as the blooms open you won’t have pollen scattered around and the blooms will last much longer.  I happen to like the anthers so opt for the shorter bloom life.

The Lily most often used for Easter is Lilium lonjeflorum which normally in its native habitat will bloom during summer. The florists use warm temperatures and also artificial light so the plant has a long day to get them to bloom for Easter.  You do not need to fertilize while the plant is in bloom and then only if you plant it outside after the last frost in order to have a bloom the next few years.  After they are out of the pot and planted in the yard, treat them like all your LILIES. They may not bloom the first year.

LILIES have been classified by type:

1.     Bowl with large flowers opening wide;

2.     Trumpet with the base of the petals fastened together for a ways past the base; and

3.     Turks cap with smaller flowers and the petals sweeping back.

Other people divide them into two types-those that face upward and those facing out. The general classification lately has been by hybrid classes. The Asiatics are usually June blooming, easy to grow, with many colors, and 2 to 5 feet high. Aurelian hybrids (sometimes call Trumpets) are 3 to 8 feet high, usually fragrant. The Orientals are 2 to 7 feet tall, also fragrant, blooming a little later and usually are spotted. In his group are the Imperials in red, pink, and silver. In the last several years a new name has arrived: the Orienpet which is a new line of hybrids of Oriental and Trumpet lilies. These are about 4 feet tall with 8 to 9 inch wide blooms.

Lilies do not like wet feet! Especially during winter, or they will rot. They work every well in raised beds. Many growers recommend a deep hole with gravel in the bottom. I have had the short lilies growing in whisky barrels for years. They seem to do better and divide more than those in the garden. Probably due to better drainage.  Some lilies may grow as tall as 9 feet and need support when the heavy flowers develop. Others may never get over 2 feet tall.

Lilies are never really dormant so don’t wait to plant them! A rule that can be used is 3 times the depth of the bulb. Some do better in partial shade so the colors will not fade as fast. Madonna lilies must be planted as early as possible in the fall and not covered by more than 2 inches of soil.

          Fertilize at the beginning of the growing season to encourage larger plants. If the season is dry, keep the ground moist, not wet by watering until bloom time is over.  Then reduce watering, giving them some time in drier soil. I cut mine off if the foliage browns or a frost occurs. If your lilies are in pots they will need fertilizer more often as it tends to run out the drainage holes. When choosing a fertilizer try to get one that is “balanced” and also has the minor nutrients, especially if you use the same potting soil more than one year.

          Most of our lilies originally were from wooded areas of Europe and Asia. Many of them do better in light shade and protected from harsh winds.  The bulbs consist of overlapping scales.  If you are patient, these scales can be separated to produce new plants. Some, like the old fashioned TIGER LILIES, produce little black bulbs in the leaf angle. The majority prefer slightly acid soil so it is a good idea to check if you can when buying new bulbs. They can be anywhere from 1.5 feet to 10 feet tall. Some may take as long as ten years to bloom from seed.

          Lilies are the favorite food of rabbits in my yard! They eat the leaves off the stalk and stand on their hind feet to reach up as far as possible. So I have several little fenced yards inside my back yard.  The one Lily they don’t seem to bother is the old fashioned tiger lily.

          Keep your Easter Lily plant in a bright light, in a cool room, damp soil, and add it to your other Lilies after May 10th. Since it was forced early it will probably be the first Lily to turn yellow in the fall.

Copyright 2007



          Yes it is time to prune your Christmas Cactus (Zygocactus). Some may have a Thanksgiving cactus while others an Easter Cactus (Schlumbergera). Whichever one you have, it can be pruned whenever the plant gets too big, the stems are longer than you want, or you want to make it more bushy. To prune, just pinch off the flattened stem segments. Some may call these stem segments leaves but technically they are not. Flowers are produced on new growth at the ends of these stem segments. So if you want to reduce the size of your plant or make it fuller, prune the tips sometime during early April. New stem segments will grow that will produce flowers next winter. The stem segments you remove can be put in a good container mix to root so you can have a plant to give to a friend next Christmas. Put a plastic bag over pot and all until segments are rooted

One last tip-Christmas Cactus like to be pot bound so don’t be in a hurry to re-pot your plant. When you do re-pot it, use a container mix rather than a cactus mix as Christmas Cactus are not a true cactus. It is ok to re-pot now if you just have to.

Copyright 2007