How do you keep Easter lilies alive after they bloom? Do Easter lilies multiply? Are Easter lilies poisonous to pets? Learn all about caring for Easter lilies! Learn all about the pure white Easter lily (Lilium longiflorum).
The fragrance of an Easter lily is a sign that spring is here! But like most true lilies, if left to nature they actually wouldn’t blossom until late summer. The potted plants for sale around the Easter holiday have been tricked into blooming for us at Easter by greenhouses that pot up the bulbs in the fall and treat them to a long cooling period—about 1,000 hours in cold but not freezing temperatures.
After the lilies start to sprout, they are given enough warmth and light to get them growing and budded in time for holiday sales. This can be tricky for growers to time just right since the date for Easter can vary from late March to late April.
How to Keep Your Easter Lily Going
If you got a fragrant Easter lily for the holiday and want to enjoy it for years to come, you will need to plant it outside. The bulbs are winter hardy in zones 5 to 8 but the plants do not do well in hot humid climates.
To prepare the bulb for planting outdoors, let the flowers fade and keep watering until the leaves die back to the stem.
Harden off the bulb by placing the plant outside each day for longer periods of time until it acclimates to being outdoors.
After last frost, plant it 4 to 6 inches deep in rich well-drained soil where it will get full morning sun and some afternoon shade.
Like clematis, these lilies like their heads in the sun but their feet in the shade. If you can’t shade the base of the plant, use mulch to keep the roots cool. Cut the stem off at the soil line and mark where you have planted.
Fertilize it twice over the summer and if you haven’t already mulched it, apply some mulch in the fall for winter protection. If all goes well your bulb should bloom again the next summer.
As the leaves mature they will start to turn yellow.
Make More Lilies!
To make more lilies, dig up your bulbs and separate the small bulblets in the fall. Replant them 4 to 6 inches deep and 6 to 12 inches apart. It will take 2 to 3 years for them to reach a blossoming size but it will be worth the wait when you have a whole row of them in bloom! They are not trouble-free though. Deer love to eat the plants, especially the buds and the lily leaf beetle can decimate an entire planting if not kept in check by vigilant hand picking or spraying with neem oil or spinosad.
Scarlet lily leaf beetles might be small but they are voracious chewers and will ruin your lilies if left unchecked.
Beware: Easter Lilies Poisonous to Cats
Finally, if you received an Easter lily as a gift be aware that all parts of this plant are poisonous and especially toxic to cats. If they eat even a small amount it could cause kidney failure and kill them so if you suspect Fluffy has been chewing the leaves or licking the pollen get her to the vet right away! Even though the plants are toxic, dogs and humans are not severely affected and would have to eat a large quantity of the plant to become sick.
See the Almanac Lily Guide for more information about how to plant and grow lily flowers in the garden.
See the Everything Easter page to read more about Easter dates, customs, recipes, and more!