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The Greener View: Easter Lilies

Jeff Rugg on

Easter is Sunday, March 31, this year. Last year it was April 9, and next year it won't be until April 20. Even though Easter lilies have only a two-week moving sales window related to the date that Easter falls, they are the fourth-largest potted plant crop behind poinsettias, mums and azaleas. Even though we see them for such a short time, they require year-round production work to produce. Each bulb takes two to four years to grow large enough for sale.

When you purchase a lily, look for plants that have large unopened buds. Count the buds and get the one with as many flowers still not opened as you can. A single plant with six to eight buds is better than a two-bud plant. Sometimes there is more than one stem in a pot, but you should still be trying for at least six buds per stem.

By looking at several plants, you can see the natural progression of how the flower buds open. If you are buying the plants a week or more before Easter, you will want more buds to be unopened. If you are buying the plant right before Easter, you will want more flowers already in bloom. You can buy several plants in various stages of bloom to get a longer-lasting effect.

An opened flower should last a week or longer before wilting. Any unopened buds that are starting to turn brown will fall off before blooming. To keep the flower white, it is a good idea to pinch off the yellow anthers as soon as the flower opens so they do not drop pollen on the petals. Removing the pollen will help make the flower last longer too, since pollinated flowers fade quickly.

Check the leaves at the base of the stem. They should not be turning yellow and falling off. If the pot is wrapped in foil, peel it back and check to see the condition of the leaves. If the soil is either too dry or waterlogged, get a different plant. The flowers may not open on a plant that has been mistreated. If you are buying the plant on a day when the temperature is near freezing, keep the plant protected from the cold. Don't buy plants stored in a tall plastic sleeve as they tend to deteriorate quickly.

 

The lily will stay blooming longer if you keep the high temperature at about 70 degrees in the day and between 50 and 60 degrees at night. Warmer temperatures will speed the flowering process. Remove wilting flowers to keep the plant looking neat. If you are planting it outside after Easter, flower removal will help make the plant's food production go into enlarging the bulb and not producing seeds. They are not easy plants to get to rebloom the following year when grown as a houseplant. They will rebloom easily if planted outdoors in zones three through seven.

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Email questions to Jeff Rugg at info@greenerview.com. To find out more about Jeff Rugg and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.


Copyright 2024 Jeff Rugg. Distributed By Creators.

 

 

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