Easter Lily Care

white lily with yellow center and green leaves

Many folks purchase an Easter Lily as part of their Easter celebration. Lilium longiflorum is native to Japan, and forced into bloom out of season for the Easter holiday in greenhouses across the country.

Most greenhouses produce these plants from bulbs grown in the “Easter Lily Capital of the World” located in a small coastal area in Northwestern California & Southwestern Oregon. Bulbs are propagated by tiny bulblets stripped from mother bulbs when harvested in fall. It takes about two years to produce a bulb of commercial size.

Timing is essential and difficult since the date of Easter changes from year to year. Plants naturally grow 3 to 4 feet tall and bloom in mid-summer, but when grown in greenhouses they are forced into bloom just before Easter and grown in a strict temperature regime to keep the plants short and attractive in containers. Occasionally growth hormones are applied to help with timing of flower formation and to maintain short plant size.

When you bring an Easter lily home, keep in mind a few of these care tips to keep it beautiful indoors.

  • Plants prefer cooler temperatures indoors – ideally 55-65°F
  • Place in bright, indirect light indoors
  • Remove flowers as they fade
  • The yellow pollen will stain hands, clothes, and petals so remove the anthers just as the flowers open
  • They can be planted outdoors after the danger of frost has past
  • Plant outdoors in a full sun location and well-drained soils
  • Bulbs should be 6” to 8” below the ground so when planted outdoors, place a few inches deeper than the level of the pot
  • Once outside, plants will die back to the ground after a few weeks. In subsequent years they will emerge in spring and bloom in mid-summer.
  • Plants are marginally hardy in Iowa. Plant in a protected area and cover with additional mulch over the winter.

Prepared by Aaron Steil, Manager of Public Programs