Tips for Buying and Caring for Easter Lilies

image of plant

By: Ann Wied, Horticulture Educator, Waukesha County

The Easter lily is a favorite Easter-time/Spring treat. It’s a welcome gift following a long winter. It is often thought of as a symbol of hope and life. Whether you are buying one for yourself or as a gift, the following tips will help you be successful in purchasing the best plant and enjoying it for a long time.

Buying tips

  • Choose a plant with flowers in various stages of development. An ideal plant would have one or two flowers open with three or more tight buds.
  • The plant should be two times as high as the pot. This is a sign of a well-proportioned plant.
  • Leaves should be dense and uniform in color.
  • Overall plant should be healthy. Check for signs of insect or disease problems. Look for eggs, webbing, chewed leaves, crinkling leaves, or wilting leaves. Be sure to look under leaves.
  • If cold outside, cover the plant loosely when transporting from inside to outside.

Care While Blooming

  • Remove plastic, paper, decorative foil, or mesh sleeves that may be around plant once you get it home.
  • Place the Easter lily in bright light but not direct sunlight.
  • Cool daytime temperatures no higher than 68 degrees will prolong the life of the blooms and nighttime temperatures between 40 and 50 degrees are ideal.
  • Water only if soil becomes dry to the touch and do not fertilize.
  • Keep your lily away from cold drafts and heat sources.
  • To prolong blossoms, remove the yellow anthers (pollen-bearing pods) found in the center of each flower.
  • After any flowers fade, remove the flower and clip off any browning leaves.

Care After Blooming

  • Want to continue enjoying your lily? If so, don’t throw it away after blooming. You can save the bulb and plant it outdoors when the soil warms up (in late May). If stem and leaves are brown, cut them off before planting. If some leaves are still green, plant it anyway and remove the stem once leaves have dried.
  • Select a sunny site with well-drained soil. Set bulb six inches below the surface. (Plant deeper in sandy soils.)
  • Fertilize your lily once or twice during the summer. Apply to soil around the plant (at least 2 inches from stem).
  • Water during dry spells.
  • Plants will usually bloom the fall after you plant them outdoors but in future years it will bloom in summer.
  • Lilies may not survive a very cold winter. Survival rate can be improved by applying a mulch (i.e., evergreen clippings) after the first hard frost in late fall.

More information on Easter Lily can be found on our website.

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