Easter Lilies Can be Challenging

Your church and perhaps your home or office will be enjoying the sweet fragrance and purity of Easter lilies the next couple of weeks. Here is their story.

Easter lilies are unlike other florist crops for many reasons. Those reasons add up to give growers headaches.

Easter lilies are unlike other florist crops for many reasons. Those reasons add up to give growers headaches.


Issues with lilies…

• Unlike all other holidays, the date of Easter can vary by almost a full month from late March past the middle of April.
• Spring conditions vary from year to year (i.e. this year!). So it’s really hard for a grower to learn where the plants should be in their development on any given date. We’ll have a pretty early Easter this year. Lucky for growers, weather conditions (especially sunlight) have been great for their production.
• Lilies are grown from bulbs, and quality of those bulbs can vary – much more than cuttings or seeds of other greenhouse crops.
• Those bulbs are produced primarily in the Northwestern U.S., and conditions there are cool and moist. But their weather varies from one year to the next, too.
• Lilies are usually planted into their greenhouse pots as soon as poinsettias are cleared out. But remember that the end date for the crop varies by 25 days one year to the next.
• The grower uses temperature to control the plants’ rate of development: warmer to speed them up, cooler to slow them down.
• Lilies are sold by bud count. The more buds a plant has, the better the price the grower will get for it.
• But if you change the temperatures too much as the plants are growing, or if you let the plants get just a tiny bit too dry, buds will abort (“blast”) and the value of the plant is sure to sink.
• In their pots and with their potting soils, lilies are heavy to ship, and flower buds are easily snapped. And there go the profits.

So when you go into the flower shop to buy your lily in the next several days, give a little thought of thanks to the grower who nurtured and loved it. Honestly, it’s amazing that anyone will accept that challenge.

Enjoying Your Lily
It may come to you sleeved in a brown paper wrap to protect it. If so, as with poinsettias, you need to remove the sleeve from the bottom up, carefully tearing it away. Our instinct is to try to save the sleeve. Trust me – you have absolutely no reason to do so

Keep your plant moist, bright and cool – just as it was in the greenhouse.

As the individual flowers just start to open, carefully pinch off the anthers (flower parts that contain pollen) with tweezers. The pollen will stain the petals, and it’s sticky.

When the plant has finished blooming, plant it into your perennial garden. It will do best in morning sun with afternoon shade. It will bloom again next year – probably a few weeks after Easter, but it will gradually play out in the Texas heat.

Handy Tip:
I posted this photo on my Facebook page a month or so ago. I had brushed against pollen in some lilies at a local McKinney flower shop. Stacy Edwards, the owner, advised me to lay my sweatshirt out in the sun for a few hours. I did not try to daub off the pollen. I just let the sunlight perform its magic. Pretty amazing what a difference that treatment made.

Lily pollen before and after the sunshine.

Lily pollen before and after the sunshine.

Posted by Neil Sperry
Back To Top