Queen of Easter Flowers

Popular Easter Lilies

Easter lilies are as popular to Easter as pretty pastel-coloured eggs and cuddly Easter bunnies. Many of us adore these stunning fragrant flowers and it is a common tradition to enjoy them in our homes during the Easter season. The trumpet shaped blossoms of the Easter Lily is significant as it portrays the symbol of purity, life, hope, the spiritual meaning of Easter and the promises of Spring.

When we start to see Easter lilies we know on the horizon there is a new beginning. I feel it is a confirmation that spring is not too far away and no matter how dreary it is outside, daffodils and tulips will soon be popping up everywhere.

Origin of Easter Lilies 

Many of us do not realize the historical implications the Easter Lily has with the Christian faith.  Also known as the “White Robed Apostles of Hope,” it has been written that white lilies bursted spontaneously into bloom in the garden of Gethsemane after Christ’s death.

Easter lilies are also associated with womanhood. Early paintings show the angel Gabriel offering a branch of pure white lilies to the virgin Mary at the time she was told of the news of the birth of the Christ Child.  

As well, Roman mythology evokes white lilies as a symbol for motherhood.  The story goes that as Juno, the queen of the gods, nursed her son Hercules the excess drops of her milk drifted into the sky to either create the Milky Way or fell to earth to grow as white lilies.

The familiar white lily we see on garden centre shelves at Easter (Lilium longifolium) is actually native to a southern island of Japan and although the flowers look very similar, the plant isn’t nearly as large as the true “Madonna” lily (Lilium candidum), which originated from Western Asia.  The latter, which commonly grows  over 2 m high, is very rarely cultivated in North America.

Care For Your Lily

When you’re choosing your Easter lily, don’t fall victim to the immediate self-gratification of open flowers. This truth holds true for many plants.  Admire the plant with every flower open and trumpeting out to you, but buy the one with the majority of buds still closed and eager to pop and give you weeks of their shimmering white blooms.

In the Victorian era they removed the yellow anthers because the exposed “organs” gave people impure thoughts. Removing the anthers does  help make the flowers last longer and you won’t have to worry about a yellow nose when you smell them or a soiled tablecloth when they drop off. As well, remove old flowers.

The flowers will last longer in a cool spot, so keep it away from bright, sunny windows.  Watch out for dry or cold drafts (like a heating vent or a door which is opened often). These things will shorten its life-span.

 Water when the soil is dry to the touch and it is not necessary to fertilize unless you are  planting them outside in the spring.  If you bought it in a foil wrapper, make sure to either remove the wrapper, poke holes in it, or be vigilant about draining it otherwise your lily may drown in its own wet feet.

Depending on who you ask, you’ll hear that Easter Lilies are hardy anywhere from zone 5-8. In our area you should have success at overwintering your lily, it's always worth a try. Move the plant outdoors to a sunny area with good drainage once the danger of frost has passed. Plant the bulb six inches in a deep sheltered location, mulch and water in. With any luck you should be enjoying beautiful white trumpet blooms in the months of June or July.