For many people, the beautiful trumpet-shaped white flowers of the Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum) represent the spiritual essence of Easter. Over time, the flowers have come to symbolize purity, virtue, innocence, hope and life.
Throughout history, they have been mentioned--in mythology, literature, poetry and the world of art--with stories and images attesting to the beauty and majesty of their elegant white flowers.
The Easter lily is actually native to the southern islands of Japan, which was the primary producer of the plant until World War II. When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, the Japanese source of bulbs was cut off abruptly.
Now the majority of lily flower bulbs are grown along a few miles of the Pacific Coast at the Oregon and California border.
Easter lilies actually bloom naturally in the summer throughout most of the United States. They rise from earthy graves as scaly bulbs, and bloom into majestic flowers right before Easter with a little help from some "trickery" by greenhouse growers who use a balance of moist cold and sunlight to get the flowers to bloom in time for the holiday.
Two of the great charms of the Easter lily are its great trumpet-shaped form and its wonderful fragrance. Whether you plan to give the potted plants as a gift or use them to decorate your own home, the following tips will help make your Easter lilies keep on giving.
Select medium to compact plants that are well balanced and proportional in size--not too tall and not too short. The flowers should be in various stages of blooming with only a few blooms open and the rest still puffy buds or tightly closed.
As the flowers mature, remove the yellow anthers before the pollen starts to shed. This gives the flowers longer life and prevents the pollen from staining the white flowers.
When a mature flower starts to wither after its prime, cut it off to make the plant more attractive while you still enjoy the fresher, newly opened blooms.
Easter lilies thrive near a window in bright, indirect natural daylight, but avoid glaring, direct sunlight. They prefer moderately moist, well-drained soil.
If the pot is wrapped in decorative foil, be careful not to let the plant sit in trapped, standing water. After blooming, you can transplant your lily outside for many more years of lasting enjoyment.
Whether given as a gift or enjoyed in your own home, the Easter lily serves as a beautiful reminder that Easter is a time for rejoicing and celebrating.
For some tips on planting Easter lilies outdoors, click here.