White Easter lilies nearing full bloom. - ATTRIBUTION: Joe deSousa (Flickr)

White Easter lilies nearing full bloom. – ATTRIBUTION: Joe deSousa (Flickr)

Lilium longiflorum, more commonly referred to as the Easter lily, is best-known for its distinct trumpet-like shape and captivating fragrance. Easter lilies are a popular holiday gift, often displayed in homes on and around Easter Sunday. For many, the white flowers symbolize hope, virtue, purity, innocence, life, and the beginning of spring. A potted Easter lily plant can be enjoyed in your home for several weeks, then planted outdoors for many years of enjoyment.

Easter Lilies and Holiday Traditions

No one knows exactly how the lily is connected to the Easter holiday, but there are a number of theories. It is said that white lilies were found growing in the Garden of Gethsemane where Jesus Christ prayed the night before his crucifixion. Today, many churches are filled with white lilies during Easter time to represent Jesus’ sacrifice. Easter lilies are also associated with the Virgin Mary. It is said that Mary received a sprig of white lilies from the angel Gabriel when she was to become the mother of Jesus. Gifting white lilies during the Easter season is a way to remind friends and family that Easter is a time to celebrate and rejoice.

Tips for Choosing an Easter Lily

Look for a plant that is proportional in shape with dark green foliage and plentiful leaves. For long-term enjoyment, choose lilies that are in various stages of development: An ideal plant would have several closed buds and one or two opened flowers. The plant itself should be two times as tall as the pot it sits in. Check for signs of plant health, such as disease or insect problems, which can come in the form of wilting flowers, discoloration, or chewed leaves. While traditional Easter lilies are white in color, these attractive flowers can also be found in red, pink, yellow, and orange variations. The stamens of the lilies are generally yellow in color.

Indoor Care Tips for Easter Lilies

Potted Easter lilies that are grown indoors require bright but indirect daylight. If your plant came in decorative paper or a foil sleeve, remove it promptly: Plants kept in these sleeves can become waterlogged and will deteriorate faster. Easter lilies thrive in temperatures ranging from 60 to 65 degrees Fahrenheit. The soil should be slightly moist to the touch. Once the flowers begin to mature, remove the yellow anthers: If the anthers are removed before they start to shed pollen, the petals will stay white and healthy longer.

Transplanting Easter Lilies Outdoors

While your lilies may be wilting in their pot, this doesn’t mean that their life is over. After Easter lilies fade, they can be planted outdoors and bloom again next spring. Prepare your plant for outdoor planting by pinching off the blooms as they fade. Lilies do best if they are planted in the spring or fall when the plant becomes dormant. Wait until the danger of frost has ended, and plant the lilies at least 6 inches deep in soil. Mulch the plant with 2 inches of compost to help keep the bulbs cool. In spring, remove the mulch to allow new growth to easily emerge.