How to Care for Easter Lilies
Once again Easter is here. Amidst the baby bunnies, pastel-pigmented poultry, and colored candies, you’ll find many different kinds of flowers adorning homes, houses of worship, and businesses. But out of these flowers, one stands out the strongest: The Easter Lily. A beautiful white flower that has come to symbolize, at least in some way, the period of rebirth after winter ends and spring begins once more. In even better news, Easter Lilies can live and bloom for multiple years. Origins
The Bermuda Lily, more commonly known as the Easter Lily, is native to Ryukyu Islands of Japan, but was brought to the United States by soldier Louis Houghton just after World War I ended (specifically, in 1919). He brought a suitcase full of lily bulbs to Oregon and gave them out to hobbyist friends. The flowers were popular but it wasn’t until World War II began, and the import of new Easter Lilies was banned, that the market for these beautiful flowers began to boom in earnest. These flowers, now common decorations for Easter, were so lucrative during the embargo that they were nicknamed White Gold. Even now, these flowers are highly valued, with market grown flowers for the US and Canada originating almost exclusively on the western coast of the US.
Nursery grown flowers can be expensive and, since they’ve been cut, they don’t last long. The good news is, you can actually grow and care for your own lilies at home. While Easter Lilies are hardy perennials (they re-grow every year), they are used to a somewhat temperate and humid climate. Dry air and extreme temperatures will be damaging to the plant. With that said, here are the basic needs for your lilies:
- Water: A delicate balance of water needs to be reached since Easter lilies need a damp environment. Watering once or twice a week is usually enough, but it’s better to monitor the soil or grow medium and watering whenever the top layer becomes dry. You should also spray-mist the leaves regularly or keep the plant relatively humid by placing a tray of water beneath it.
- Temperature: Daytime temperatures should stay between 65 to 75° F, with nightly temperatures staying slightly cooler. Remember that Easter lilies are temperate plants from a mostly tropical climate. Always keep your lilies away from heat and excessively dry air (heating ducts and appliances are the worst offenders).
- Lighting: Easter lilies enjoy bright but indirect sunlight. Make sure that they are placed somewhere they can receive enough light but will never be in direct view of the sun. It’s even more important to keep the roots shaded from sunlight if you’re growing hydroponically. If possible, you should rotate your lily every few days to keep it from leaning towards any artificial light sources.
- Blooming: While this isn’t a need per se, it should be noted that Easter Lilies actually bloom in June or July. Commercial growers use very controlled environments to trigger early blooming to have their flowers ready in time for Easter.
While the standard method is, as it has been done since before recorded history, planting in soil, we enjoy a good challenge in hydroponics. So is it possible to grow Easter Lilies in a hydroponics system? Absolutely. The key is picking the right system and medium. Since these lilies prefer a damp environment you’ll need a grow medium that drains quickly with a mild level of water retention. A vermiculite mix or clay rock medium will probably work best depending on the system you want to use.
You do have a few options for the system you want to use. Lilies would be perfect for a top-down hydro system, and both drip irrigation and top-down watering systems work well with a vermiculite soilless mix. Both systems can keep the medium damp without drowning the roots of the plant. Likewise a wicking system would achieve a similar effect. A running stream of nutrients absorbed by the medium and roots without direct immersion would keep the roots wet without the risk of root-rot setting in.
Whether you grow your own or buy from a store, Easter Lilies are beautiful flowers at any time of the year. Caring for your own can be a rewarding experience, especially when they’re in bloom. Do you grow your own or have a personal favorite flower you care for? Share your experiences with us in the comments below, or send us an image of your flower garden through Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus, LinkedIn, Pinterest, or Instagram! We’d love to hear from you all!