Easter is the season of renewal
The Easter lily, better known as the Bermuda lily, has been used historically in the Christian faith as it represents the resurrection of Christ.
Every holiday seems to have a flower to commemorate the nature of the event. During our Thanksgiving season we have the chrysanthemums, around the Christmas season we have the poinsettias and Christmas cactuses, Valentine’s Day is meant for the rose, St. Patrick’s Day has the shamrock plant, and Easter has the Easter lily.
Better known as the Bermuda lily, this lily has been used historically in the Christian faith as it represents the resurrection of Christ. Legend has it that the night before the crucifixion, Christ prayed in the Garden of Gethsemane, and later these lilies sprung up in the spots where Christ’s tears fell. Every year the Easter lily adorns many altars and churches throughout the world in memory of this event.
This lily is the fourth-largest wholesale crop in the potted-plant market, just behind the poinsettia, Chrysanthemums and azaleas. Ninety-five percent of the Easter lily bulbs are produced in the region between California and Oregon by producing nearly 12 million bulbs a year to distribute to various greenhouses to grow for this holiday.
Many people are familiar with this type of lily because of its beautiful trumpet-shaped flowers of pure white with a heavenly scent. I personally love the smell of an Easter lily and often it is hard to hide as I usually have yellow pollen on my nose from smelling them too closely. Other people have an aversion to their smell as it is quite strong, while others can even have an allergic reaction due to sensitivities. Everyone has a plant they prefer over another, but this one I thoroughly enjoy for its sweet smell.
Once you have received an Easter lily, whether as a gift or a personal purchase, basic care is needed to allow them to last to their fullest extent. Always keep them away from drafts and heat-vent areas that can dry them out. Bright, filtered light is best to keep them vibrant and only water them when they are dry and avoid soggy soils. For longer lasting blooms, remove the pollen heads when the flower first opens. This will also keep pollen from falling onto the white petals leaving yellow or orange stains behind. If pollen happens to land on the petals while you remove them, simply take a bent pipe cleaner and gently rub the petal and it will lift the pollen right off without staining.
Easter lilies can last from seven to 12 days depending how many flower buds are produced. Some plants will have as few as one stem with three flower buds where others can grow three stems and produce up to a total of 15 flowers, but that would only be with the largest of bulbs. Typically one stem will produce three to five flowers or you will get two stems of four flowers.
What does one do with these plants once they are done blooming? As with other lilies, you can save them and plant them in the garden when the threat of frost has passed. They will want to be located in a sunny spot that is well drained. Add a little bone meal to the hole when planting to encourage bulb growth and make sure the base of the bulb is 6 inches beneath the surface of the soil. A little mulching before the snow flies and your lily should come up year after year for further enjoyment.
Keep in mind that some Easter lilies have been hybridized to encourage their pure white color, and in the years to come in the garden, they may revert back to an original color either from a parent plant or through cross pollination. I have seen numerous Easter lilies down the road produce yellow or pink flowers instead of the white ones they planted. One nice thing about these lilies is they create a small element of surprise when they bloom again.
Once the lily has been planted, continue to water it and tend to it until frost and allow the stem to die back naturally. In the fall when the stem is dry, simply cut it off at soil level for new growth to appear the following spring.
If you are one who does not like the smell of the Easter lily, there are many Asiatic ones to choose from in the market that do not have much of a scent. These come in colors of white, yellow, orange, burgundy and red and are a nice substitute for someone who enjoys lilies but not necessarily their scent.
Keep in mind that all lilies can be toxic to cats, so some precautionary measures should be taken in these types of households.
Enjoy this Easter weekend and add a little hope into the season with the lilies that represent resurrection. After all, it is the spring season when everything begins to come alive and allows our senses to become invigorated once again! Keep in mind the recent snowfall is temporary, so have a very Happy Easter!