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The Easter Lily is native to Japan, and before 1941 all of our bulbs came from there. The Second World War changed everything. Today, ten farms on the California-Oregon border produce 95% of the Easter Lily bulbs sold in the United States. Once produced, these bulbs are shipped to commercial greenhouses around the country, where they are planted and force bloomed for Easter. The Easter Lily ranks right below poinsettias, azaleas, and mums as the largest selling potted flower in the United States. This lily, primarily the Nellie White variety, is used at Easter for several reasons: Its trumpet shaped white flower has always represented “purity, virtue, innocence, hope, and life.” Lilies were said to have grown where Jesus’ sweat fell to the ground during his final moments on earth. Churches are filled with lilies at Easter to commemorate his resurrection and everlasting life.
PURCHASING AN EASTER LILY: Look for a medium sized compact plant with dense green leaves all the way down to the soil line. The flowers should be in varying stages of bud and bloom (a few open flowers, a few plump buds, a few tight buds). The plants should not still be in their shipping wrap; this causes damage that will only show up later. Avoid lilies with soggy soil that might lead to root rot.
LIGHT AND TEMPERATURE: Lilies like it cool, 65-75 during the day and 55-65 at night. Bright indirect light, no direct sun.
WATER: Water when the soil is dry to the touch; avoid over-watering and do not allow the plant to sit in water. Avoid putting the lily near drafts, fireplaces, and heating vents. As the flowers mature, cut off the yellow antlers in the center. This will allow the plant to bloom longer and prevent the pollen from staining the beautiful white flowers.
Easter lilies can easily be planted outside. After all of the flowers have died (and you have cut them off), place the green plant in a sunny location and water as usual. Fertilize the plant about every six weeks. Plant the lily outside in well-drained, rich organic soil once the danger of frost has passed. The lilies should be planted 3” below ground and about 12”-18” apart. When the original plant dies back, new growth will spring up from the ground. Your lily may not bloom the first year after you plant it, but be patient until the following late spring or summer and you’ll be rewarded with some beautiful blooms. Be sure to cover the plants with mulch during the winter months to protect the bulbs from the cold. With proper care, your Easter Lilies will bloom for years!