Care and Handling (and a little History) of Easter Lilies

When you think of scents of Easter, besides the warm, yummy aroma of ham in the oven and sweet chocolaty bunnies, the most iconic is the wonderful fragrance of the Easter Lily. When I was little every Easter my Dad would get an Easter Lily from the local florist and it was my job to make sure its pollen was removed and that it had enough water. 

A native of the Ryukyu Islands of Japan, Easter Lilies were brought to the United States by a World War I soldier from Oregon.  He filled his suitcase with the bulbs which he gave as gifts to friends and relatives.

When the importing of these bulbs was cut off immediately after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, many who were cultivating Easter Lilies as a hobby went into business.  By 1945 there were 1200 growers producing bulbs.  Cultivating the Lily bulbs turned out to be an exact science with demanding climate requirements. Today there are only 10 farms in an isolated region on the California/Oregon border designated the “The Easter Lily Capital of the World” that provide the majority of the bulbs for the blooming plant market.

Tips for Taking Care of Your Easter Lily: 
  • Be sure it receives bright indirect light and water when the soil is dry to the touch.  Do not let it sit in water either.
  • Remove the pollen (the bright yellow dust) from inside the bloom.  Removing the pollen will help the plant live longer as well as keep it from staining the bloom and anyone who brushes into it.
  • When each of the blooms has faded cut it off with a sharp knife.  Enjoy your plant until the last blossom is spent.  At this point allow the leave of your plant grow as long as possible and then let them wither naturally.  
  • After cutting back the greenery, leave the plant in its pot and keep it in a cool dim place until it can be planted in the spring after the last frost.
  • You can plant an Easter Lily in your garden to try to get it to bloom again either in the same season or for the next.  
Be sure to stop in at either location of Bank of Memories & Flowers, the Menomonee Falls or Pewaukee store, for our beautiful selection of Easter Lilies as well as other bulb and blooming plants.

Luan M. Kurriger, ~Pewaukee Manager