One of the largest flower crops in the United States 95% percent of the more than 11 million Easter Lilies sold each year are grown along the West Coast in Oregon and California. It’s no wonder they are so popular to give as gifts each spring, handsome green foliage, pure white flowers and a sweet scent that is simply….well….heavenly. But Easter Lilies also make great additions to a garden space as well.
Botanical and Common Name: Lilium longiflorum are usually called Easter Lilies because they are sold as container plants around the Easter holiday season. They are also called White Trumpet Lilies because the flowers are usually white and are shaped like trumpets.
Hardiness Zones: Easter lilies are perennials and will survive winters to zone 6. Hardier hybrids from crosses with Oriental lilies are often seen in catalogs and can be hardy to zones 3 or 4.
Bloom Time and Color: While Easter lilies are usually seen already in bloom by the Easter Holidays, they are blooming in spring because the bulbs were carefully forced in greenhouses. When Easter lilies are grown naturally in the garden they will bloom in mid-summer. Most of the Lilium longiflorum have white, fragrant blooms but are available in shades of pink, yellow or cream.
Plant Category: Lilies are herbaceous perennials.
Foliage: The foliage of the Easter lily is attractive and grows out from the flower stalk along the entire length. Easter lilies don’t look as “leggy” as other varieties because of this trait.
Growth Habit: Easter lilies produce strong, tall stems that grow straight up from the bulb unless grown in too much shade causing them to lean towards the light.
Dimensions: Provide at least 6” between Easter lily bulbs as plants grow 3’ tall but upright to about 9” wide.
Preferred Conditions: The Easter lilies prefer well-drained soil and plenty of sunshine, although in hotter summer areas bulbs should be either planted slightly deeper, or provided with afternoon shade.
Maintenance: Deadhead Easter lilies after bloom by cutting off the flowering portion of the stalk, or allow plants set seeds naturally. Expect the Easter lily to naturalize and spread slowly in good conditions. Lily bulbs can be dug, divided and replanted in the fall after blooming.
Pests or Diseases: Easter lily foliage can be attacked by fungal infections that causes yellow mottling of the leaves. Maintain well-drained soil, and keep water off the foliage to help prevent the disease, but if fungus attacks a plant it is best to dig it up and destroy it.
Propagation Methods: Easter lilies reproduce both through seed, and bulb division. Easter lily bulbs produce scales that can be planted separately and will usually bloom within two years.
Companion Plants: Many plants make excellent companions for the Easter Lily plant because the flowers are easy to blend with other colors. Try summer blooming annuals or perennials for lots of color.
Seasons of Interest: The foliage is attractive all season and the fragrant blooms are show-stopping in the summer.
Uses in the Garden: Plant Easter lilies in masses to create a beautiful border, in mixed borders, white gardens, cutting gardens or fragrant theme gardens.
Other Uses: One of the most well-known flowers given as gifts during the Easter Holiday. Try forcing Easter lily bulbs indoors for an earlier spring bloom and give your friends a unique holiday gift.
Lilies were also used medicinally throughout history for a variety of breathing conditions but gardeners should be aware all parts of the Easter Lily plant are considered toxic.
Select Named Cultivars:
Lilium longiflorum ‘Nelly White’ – The sweetly scented Easter Lily that is most commonly seen available commercially around the Easter Holiday season.
Lilium longiflorum ‘Elegant Lady’ – A blush-pink cultivar with sweet fragrance. Called ‘Pink Easter Lily’ in some catalogs.
Lilium longiflorum ‘Deliana’ – A creamy yellow variety of the Easter Lily.
Lilium longiflorum ‘Trimphator’ – A two-toned white flower with rosy pink center.
Lilium longiflorum ‘White Elegance’ – Hardy to zone 5 this is a pure white Easter lily with slightly smaller blooms, but more of them per stalk