In the spring, you’re bound to see an Easter lily (or several!) in homes across Illinois. These elegant white flowers are deeply meaningful in the Christian faith, commonly found in churches and places of worship, to celebrate their namesake holiday.
If one of these famous flowers finds its way into your home this spring, refer to this care guide to help you keep it healthy and blooming long after Easter Sunday!
Bringing Easter Lilies Home
Whether your lily came from the store or a gracious friend, your first step after taking it home is to get it settled in. To keep your lily blooming as long as possible, follow these steps as soon as you walk in the door:
- Check that decorative wrap or foil has drainage: Greenhouse staff members can add a drainage hole to your foil before wrapping.
- Remove any fading flowers: If your lily has blooms on it that appear to be on their last legs (or petals, as it may be), pinch them off to encourage more energy to go into emerging blooms.
- Remove the anthers (optional): The anthers are the yellow parts of the flower that hold the pollen. Some folks believe removing the anthers prolongs the blooming period, but this has been proven to be a myth. However, removing them might extend the life of any white table runners near your lily, as the pollen is known to stain!
The Right Light for Your Lily
Easter lilies love light, but they’re also fairly vulnerable to heat. The ideal location for your lily is an area with bright, indirect sunlight. A window with a sheer curtain offers an excellent source of filtered light, but you can also place your plant in close view of the window just outside of the sunbeams that trickle in.
These lilies appreciate a cooler environment since they’re a spring-bloomer that is best adapted to mild, temperate weather. They’ll fare best in an area with a temperature between 60-68˚F, away from any vents or radiators.
Watering Easter Lilies
Easter lilies respond better to less frequent waterings than they do to more frequent ones. Allow the soil surface to grow dry to the touch before watering again, but don’t allow the soil to dry out altogether. Check the soil daily to see whether it’s time for a drink!
Caring for Easter Lily Bulbs After Flowering
After your plant has finished blooming for the year, you can continue to enjoy it outside in your garden! Easter lilies are bulbs, just like tulips and daffodils, and their care is very similar. To plant your lily bulb outside, follow these steps:
- First, wait until the risk of frost has passed. These bulbs don’t fare well with frosty weather!
- Plant in a sunny spot with well-drained soil. Ideally, the planting location should also enjoy some shade in the late afternoon when the sun is at its hottest. Water well and apply a dose of water-soluble, all-purpose garden fertilizer.
- After planting, apply organic mulch around the base of the plant. The mulch will keep the roots cool in the summer, and protect them from the cold in the winter. Over time, the mulch will also break down and add nutrients to the soil.
- Allow the leaves to die back. Your bulb may die back soon after planting; don’t panic! Leave the plant alone, and you’ll likely see new shoots emerging in the summer. It may even “rise from the dead” for a second blooming period before the fall—it is called the Easter lily, after all!
- Cut spent stems in late autumn. Wait for the leaves to die back completely before giving your lily a fall clean-up.
- Be patient. Even if your plant doesn’t rebloom this year, it should return to greet you next year with a fresh set of leaves and blooms. Many Easter lily bulbs are generally winter-hardy to zone 5, so with a generous layer of mulch, these cultivars should have no trouble surviving winters in the Chicagoland area. Check out our bulb planting chart for information on planting other bulbs.
When your lily pokes its shoots out to greet you next year, welcome it back with another dose of all-purpose garden fertilizer! Your bulb will happily join you again for another year of beautiful, trumpet-shaped blooms.
Ready to pick up an Easter lily of your own? We carry healthy, blooming stock at our Bloomingdale and Carpentersville nursery locations all throughout the Easter season. Stop in soon to visit our plants and see who else is blooming for early spring!
Platt Hill Nursery is Chicago’s premier garden center and nursery.