BOISE, Idaho — Easter lilies are the iconic symbol of the Easter holiday.  I’ll show you some tips for making your Easter lilies last longer.

Easter is coming up on Sunday, a little later than usual this year.  If you’ve wondered how the date for Easter is determined, it is the first Sunday after the first full moon, after the vernal equinox, or beginning of spring.  So now you know!

And one of the enduring symbols of Easter is the beautiful white Easter lily. Garden master Jim Duthie shows us how Easter lilies are grown to be ready to bloom right at Easter, and he has some tips on how to make your Easter lily last longer.

Here at Edwards Greenhouses in Boise, and at many other local garden centers, Easter lilies have been growing for several weeks. And since Easter can fall anywhere from late March to mid April, growers carefully force bloom them so that their fragrant flowers don’t bloom too soon but will be ready to open right around Easter Sunday. 

Easter lilies are one of the most recognizable holiday flowers in the world.  And just as poinsettias are the iconic flower of Christmas, the pristine white blossoms of Easter lilies are the iconic flowers of the Easter holiday, symbolizing purity and grace.  You may have one of these beautiful lilies in your home this weekend for Easter, and  with proper care, it can continue to produce beautiful blooms even after Easter has come and gone.  Here are a few tips to keep yours growing.

There are hundreds of varieties of lilies around the world, in all kinds of shapes and gorgeous colors, but the lilium longiflorum, what we call Easter lilies, are the only ones that produce these pure white, trumpet-shaped flowers.  They face outwards at the top of a two- to three-foot tall stem that’s covered with dark green leaves. 

When you get your Easter lily home, carefully unwrap it and discard the decorative packaging.  The paper or foil around the pot tends to hold the water in, and your lily will deteriorate faster if the roots stay too wet.

As the flowers open and start to mature, remove the anthers.  Anthers are those long, yellow stems growing from the center of the flower.  Removing them will prolong the life of the bloom and prevent the yellow pollen from staining the pristine white petals.

Place your lily in a spot where there’s plenty of natural daytime light, but keep it out of direct sunlight, which will shorten the lily’s lifespan.  Easter lilies also like relatively cool temperatures, around 65 degrees, for the flowers to last their longest.  Keep it away from drafts or heat vents.

Lilies like to be slightly moist, but make sure you don’t overwater them.

When the soil starts to feel dry to the touch, water it thoroughly until the it’s completely soaked and drips through the drain holes in the pot.  Then hold off on watering until the soil starts to dry out again. 

Once all the flowers are gone, and the danger of frost is past, you can plant your lily outdoors.  Choose a sunny location with rich, well-drained soil.  Plant it about six inches deep, the same depth as it was in its original pot.  Water it thoroughly and cover it with a little mulch.

The bulb will store up nutrients and will most likely bloom again next spring, and possibly for many years to come, just like these have done in my own garden.

Easter only comes once a year, and so do these beautiful Easter lilies.  But if you follow these tips, you should be able to enjoy your Easter lily blooms for a little while longer.

Easter lilies are native to the islands of southern Japan and Taiwan. Nowadays, almost all of the Easter lilies we buy are grown in coastal areas along the California–Oregon border. 

By the way, here’s a note of caution for cat owners -- many species of lilies, including Easter lilies, are toxic to cats.  So, if you see your cat eating parts of the plant, or licking the pollen, consult a veterinarian immediately.

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