23 March 2012

Easter Lilies

Easter is almost here.  The traditional plant this time of year is the Lily.  There are many types of lilies, but at Easter, the standard is Lilium longiflorum, the Latin name for the Easter Lily.  The Easter Lily is native to the Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan. 

Each holiday is marked by cherished traditions that bring joy, comfort, and warmth, and provide continuity from one generation to the next.  For many, the beautiful trumpet-shaped white flowers of the Easter Lily symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life - the spiritual essence of Easter.
Easter Lily bulbs are harvested in the fall, packed and shipped to commercial greenhouses where they are planted in pots and forced under controlled conditions to bloom for the Easter holiday.  To keep your Easter Lily as long as possible, follow these guidelines. 

First, look for lilies that are neither too tall or too short. Ideally, a plant’s height should be about twice the height of the pot it is grown in.  You should also look for plants that are lush and full and that have leaves up and down the entire stem.  This indicates a healthy plant.  Don’t buy plants that are in full bloom.  If you purchase plants that have an assortment of both open flowers and closed buds, you’ll be able to enjoy the plant longer.  
Also be wary of plants being displayed in plastic sleeves.  It may seem convenient to take them home this way, but the plant has more of a chance developing disease if left in the sleeve too long.  Ideally, plant sleeves should have been removed as soon as they arrived at the store. 

Check the soil.  If it is too wet, especially if the plant looks wilted, it may have root rot.  Purchase another plant instead.  
As the flowers open, remove the gold anthers on the inside.  This will extend the life of the flower, as well as keep the pollen from staining the beautiful white petals.  Once the flower has withered, cut it off to keep the plant attractive and enjoy the other flowers. 

Indoors, the lilies prefer cool temperatures of 60° – 65° F during the day and slightly cooler at night.  Keep the plants from drafts and avoid exposure to strong sunlight and excessive heat.  Lilies prefer moderately moist, well drained soil.  Wait until the soil begins to show dryness, then water lightly.  If the plant is wrapped in foil, be careful not to let the plant stand in water for too long.  This may encourage root rot.  It is best to remove the plant from the foil cover and water it over the sink, allowing it to drain prior to placing the pot cover back on. 
Follow these simple guidelines, and your Easter Lilies should hold up well for the Easter holiday. 

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