Proper care will bring Easter lily back next year

Prairie gardeners are growing lilies never thought possible a generation ago. There are even a few trumpets in collections.

The trumpet lily, Lilium longiforum, has become a favourite lily for the potted plant trade. Instead of discarding this year’s Easter lily, a trumpet lily, why not keep it growing indoors and plant it outside in the garden?

The Easter lily’s fragrance makes it a perfect pot plant. You can smell the plants as soon as you enter a shop that sells them and this perfume will be just as poignant in the outdoor garden.

The large, trumpet-shaped, waxy flowers, pure white with darker anthers, are stunning.

After the blooms fade, cut off the top of the stem just below the lowest flower branch.

Keep the plant well watered by holding the pot over the sink and letting water run through the soil until it is thoroughly drenched. Let the pot completely drain before returning it to its display location.

Since you want to encourage the bulb to create new flower buds for next year, give it good growing conditions while still indoors. Use a balanced soluble fertilizer in the water and keep the plant in bright light.

When all danger of frost has passed, plant the lily outside, but be sure to harden it off first because it may collapse and its leaves could suffer sun scorching.

Place the pot outdoors in a sheltered spot, gradually increasing the time it is exposed to sun.

Remove the plant from the pot and plant it about 10 centimetres deep, about five cm deeper than the bulb that was planted in the pot. The soil should be rich and have excellent drainage.

If the soil is heavy, put a handful of sand in the bottom of the planting hole. Plant the lily in part shade in an area sheltered from harsh winds during the winter. Keep it watered and fertilized during the summer, at least until the foliage yellows and dries off.

Remember that the lily is out of its natural cycle and will go dormant earlier than normal.

In the fall, just before freeze-up, mulch the lily with about 10 cm of straw or other mulching material. Watering and fertilizing can then resume as new growth emerges

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