Hello again and welcome back to the MIFFS blog! With the Easter holiday right around the corner, MIFFS thought it might be interesting to learn more about Easter Lily (Lilium longiflorum) production in Michigan. According to the USDA (United States Department of Agriculture), Michigan is the highest producer in the US followed by California, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.
History of the Easter Lily
When found growing in the wild, Lilium longiflorum are native to Japan, introduced to the United States in 1919 after the First Wold War. Louis Houghton (US Soldier), brought bulbs to Oregon and growers quickly realized the excellent growing conditions on the border with California (known as the Easter Lily Capital of the World). After Pearl Harbor in 1941, shipments of the bulbs from Japan were halted, which created an opportunity for Oregon and California growers as demand increased greatly.
Growing and Caring for Lilies
While they can be difficult to grow, the outcome of all your challenging work is well worth it! Easter Lilies in pots prefer bright, indirect sunlight. It is critical that these plants are protected from any drafts or heat sources in your house.
The yellow anthers in the center of the lily should be removed as this will prolong the blossoms and prevent the anther pollen from leaving stains on the flowers or other surfaces. If you do get the pollen on your clothes, do not rub it in or get it wet as this will make the stain worse.
If you have cats, Easter Lily plants, although they are beautiful, are extremely poisonous to cats! Eating even tiny amounts of any part of this plant can have a dangerous effects on cats and often lead to death from kidney failure. So, watch out for your furry friends and place all lilies in a location that will not affect your cat (which can be a challenge in itself!).
Transplanting your potted lily outside is the next step to continue to grow your lily. The best time to transplant is when the flowers have withered and fallen. Lilies like full sun in a cool area, so location is important! Before transplanting, keep the plant watered and in indirect sunlight until the danger of Spring frost has passed. Plant the bulb 4 to 6 inches deep and layer organic mulch around the roots. The plant should foliage the first year but will typically not flower.
In the fall, this growth will turn yellow and die back and at that time you can cut the plant down to the soil. Top-dress the soil and apply a few more inches of mulch to protect your lily from cold temperature throughout the winter.
In the spring, you can remove the mulch as it warms up and apply a balanced fertilizer when you see new growth. It is important to be very patient when planting to continue to grow your lily, this process may take a few years to see results. Lilium longiflorum do not like warm tropical climates, so Michigan is great for growing where they naturally bloom in June or July.
Significance of the Easter Lily
This traditional flower is known as a joyful symbol of elegance, hope, new life, and purity. The Easter Lily is also known as a spring time essential, with the strong fragrance reassuring us that warm weather is on the way!