Midwest Garden Guys

Caring for Easter Lilies

Mike O’Rourke
Scott Sandstrom

SCOTT: Springtime in the Midwest is the re-birth of the growing season. A fresh new start from the cold, gray winter. And one specific flower is traditionally known for this time of year, the Easter Lily. Easter Lilies have been forced or tricked into flowering for the holiday. Mike, what should I look for when picking one up at the garden center? Is it like buying my wife roses, look for the least number of opened buds?
MIKE: Understanding that the Easter Lily is greenhouse grown, a person can feel comfortable knowing that their new plant will bloom for Easter! However, the intent is to find the fullest lily with the most CLOSED buds. Then decide when you would like it to start blooming. Easter Lilies, placed at room temperature with tightly closed buds, will take approximately 7 to 10 days to fully open. Remember, water ONLY when the soil is dry and the leaves are slightly wilting. Then drench the plant until it thoroughly drains out the bottom. Make sure to get rid of the excess water.
SCOTT: What insights can you give the Sylvania community about planting this lily outside?
MIKE: If you are willing to plant them outdoors, please wait. Allow your plant to fully bloom inside. Then cut off or dead head the old flower stems and wait until the threat of a killing frost has passed. It’s usually AFTER the LAST FULL MOON in MAY. Then plant it outside. These lilies are hardy enough to survive in growing zones 5 to 11. In case you don’t have any idea what zone Sylvania is, it’s #5. Outside, they won’t bloom next Easter. Remember the greenhouses control the bloom time that first year. They’ll hold off until they are good and ready to bloom, usually, the very end of May.
SCOTT: I have a carry-over from our podcast Mike! POP QUIZ TIME: how many days does it take for an Easter Lily to get 7 inches tall?
MIKE: Ugh, I’m not a fan of your pop quizzes! Scott … bulbs are grown for three to four years in fields with perfect growing conditions, until they reach the right size and hardiness. Then they are shipped to greenhouse growers. According to my grade school arithmetic, your answer is 1,095 days, (365 days a year X 3 years = 1095).
SCOTT: Okay Albert Einstein, you and your calculator got one!
MIKE: Ha-ha, Thank you!
SCOTT: Will the lily multiply quickly outside, like a weed?
MIKE: As the Easter Lily becomes more comfortable with its growing conditions, there’s no stopping it. The plant will continue to produce tubers/bulbs and spread rhizomatously. I just made that word up, you know what I mean, horizontal rooting.
SCOTT: Well Mike, I learned something today.
MIKE: What was that?
SCOTT: I need tougher pop quizzes and dead batteries in your calculator! Until next time, green thumbs up!

Your Midwest Garden Podcast guys, Mike O’Rourke and Scott Sandstrom, will be sharing gardening advice and information with readers throughout the growing season. O’Rourke, retired from Black Diamond Garden Center and known as the Garden Guy for many years, discusses landscape issues with Sandstrom in a casual conversation designed to educate listeners, and now readers, on a wide variety of topics.

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