Potted Easter lilies with their elegant white blooms and spiky,dark green leaves are common springtime gifts. You can care for Easter lilies indoors in their pots, then transplant them to the garden for years of enjoyment.
When you are buying an Easter lily, select a vibrant-looking specimen with several partially-open buds that will bloom while the plant is in your care. Place the plant in a window that receives indirect sunlight in a location where the temperature is about 60 to 65 degrees F, and cooler at night. Easter lilies do not like direct sunlight or hot temperatures and will fail to thrive in those conditions.
Water the plant only when it becomes dry. Be careful of letting a lily set in standing water, particularly if it is wrapped in decorative paper or foil, as this can cause root rot and kill the plant. You can remove the foil and repot the lily or allow it to drain completely if it seems waterlogged.
Remove the yellow anthers in the center of the bloom before the pollen sheds to extend the life of the flower and keep its white petals pristine. Cut blooms as they fade, to allow the plant to direct its energy into new growth.
After every bloom has faded and all danger of frost has passed, you can plant your Easter lily outdoors. Prepare a garden bed with excellent drainage that is located in a sunny spot. Amend the soil with composted organic matter. The soil pH should be between 6.5 and 7. If you are unsure about the quality of your soil, send a sample to your local university cooperative extension to have it tested.
Plant the bulbs 6 inches deep, 4 to 6 inches apart. Spread the roots out in the soil so that they may naturally grow outwards. Fill in the holes and water them thoroughly.
Mulch the plantings with 2 inches of compost or other mulch. This helps keep the bulbs cool. Lilies are said to like their heads in the sun and their feet in the shade. Mulching allows you to create these conditions so that your Easter lily will thrive.
Cut off the green foliage as it turns brown. Cut it right above healthy-looking green growth. Repeat this throughout the first season. New growth may emerge from the place where you cut. In subsequent years, the bulbs will bloom during mid-summer, but it is not likely an Easter lily will bloom again the first year it is planted outdoors. It was forced to bloom in a greenhouse in the spring to be ready for sale at Easter, and will probably take a full year to regenerate and prepare for next year’s bloom. Cut lilies back in the fall, to remove spent growth.
In spring, remove the mulch so that new growth can emerge easily. You do not need to fertilize lilies that are planted in soil that is rich in organic matter, but if you want to, you can apply an organic fertilizer specific to lily growth early in the spring.