Although potted Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum) fill florists and grocery stores to usher in spring, they don't bloom naturally in spring. Also known as trumpet lily they grow as perennials in U.S. Department of Agriculture plant hardiness zones 4 through 8. Grown outdoors, an Easter lily normally blooms from July to August. Easter lilies may stay green indoors in their pots for a few weeks after blooming, but you'll need to plant them outdoors if you want them to live on.
Proper care can keep your Easter lily alive indoors. Remove the plant's decorative paper, mesh or plastic sleeve. These sleeves protect the Easter lily during shipping, but if the sleeve is left in place too long, it will damage the plant. Remove the Easter lily from the decorative foil while you're watering it. The foil can trap water, causing the roots and the lily bulb to rot. Drain the pot, then place it back in the foil, if you wish. Place the Easter lily in bright, indirect sunlight. Easter lilies should be protected from cold drafts and heating vents.
Protect From Frost
Easter lilies sold to bloom around Easter have been forced to bloom early in carefully controlled greenhouse conditions. It is difficult to create these conditions, so forcing Easter lilies at home is not recommended. Easter lilies do not grow well indoors for long periods, but should survive until it's time to plant outside. Wait for the lily to finish blooming before moving it outdoors. Wait until the last chance of frost has passed in your area, too. Forced Easter lilies will not survive freezing immediately, but will be able to overwinter once they have had the summer to grow in the garden.
Loving the Outdoor Life
Before planting the Easter lily outdoors, remove the dead flowers, but leave the stem and leaves. Plant the Easter lily in light, well-draining soil with plenty of organic material. The bulb should be placed in a hole 6 inches deep. Add 1 to 2 inches of mulch. This will help keep the soil cool for the roots as well as adding nutrition and controlling weeds. Water the Easter lily immediately after planting to give it a good start.
Just Settling In
The leaves will likely turn yellow and die back after planting the Easter lily. This is because the forcing process disrupts the plant’s life cycle. Once the leaves are completely dead and brown, cut them back to the soil level. The Easter lily should send up new leaves once the old ones are cut back. The plant is not likely to bloom again the first year it is planted. Cut the dead leaves back again once they die in the fall. The next summer the Easter lily should begin to bloom in July or August.
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