Yes – Easter Lilies Can Indeed Be Saved & Thrive Outdoors!

Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum) are beautiful with their white trumpet flowers and are traditionally given as gifts or purchased for decoration during the holiday season. They produce such a lovely fragrance and when they’re arranged in groups, the display is stunning!

This year don’t toss away that splendid lily after the blooms are gone–save & nurture it! Give it a chance at new life by trying to grow it in your garden…there’s a good chance you will be rewarded with more blooms in the Fall or next Spring.

Care & Advice

Here’s how you can save Easter lilies to enjoy from one season to the next.

Growing Indoors:

  • Choose a sunny or bright location that receives plenty of “indirect” light during the day. Position away from heat sources (like a heat register) since it prefers being cool at night.
  • Water when soil feels dry to the touch but avoid overwatering. I tend to give a little drink each day, keeping things moist/damp but not waterlogged or soggy…depends on how dry my home is at the time.
  • Once it blooms and the leaves begin to yellow, continue watering until ready to transplant outdoors (allow the leaves to die naturally before pruning them). Wait until the blooms are gone before moving to the garden.

Making The Move Outside:

  • When all danger of frost has passed in the Spring and as soon as the soil can be worked, plant the bulb 6 to 8 inches deep.
  • Choose a location where it will receive plenty of sun and make sure the soil is well-draining.
  • Once the bulb is planted, top the soil with about an inch or two of mulch to help keep the roots cool during the hot summer.
  • Important: Keep the stem and leaves intact, cutting down to ground level only when it dies back (in the Fall) before snow comes.
  • You might get lucky and have it re-bloom in the Fall of the same year it is transplanted but it more typically does so in late Spring of the following year (expect it to make an appearance sometime during May, June or even July). If the plant is thriving but produces no blooms during the following summer of first planting it outdoors…don’t give up on it and leave it in the ground. They’ve been known to appear for the first time after the 2nd year!

Tips

    Vintage Illustration – Boston Public Library

  • When first making your selections to buy, choose those that haven’t fully bloomed and have several unopened buds, this will give you an extended time of flowering.
  • Is the tall stem starting to lean over in one direction? Simply turn the pot the other way to give the other side the best light exposure. This will force it back so it grows upright.
  • Foil Wrap Traps: The pretty foil wraps around the container holds the water so the pot doesn’t drain well and the roots don’t like that! Remove the foil or poke some holes in the bottom (setting the whole thing on a tray to collect the excess water).
  • If it starts growing up out of the soil too early in the Spring (when it will likely get killed off by frost), try covering the new growth with a few inches of potting soil.
  • You can stretch the life of the blossoms by removing the little yellow pollen anthers in the center of the flowers. Careful when doing so, they can stain fingers and clothes terribly. This also helps maintain nice blossoms that are white & unstained.
  • As with most flowering plants, pinching off the faded blossoms helps the bulb stay strong & focused on high production.
  • If you live in a colder climate than Zone 6, try mulching heavily in the Fall–it might just do the trick and ensure the lily makes an appearance next Spring. I know someone with a green thumb who lives in Zone 3…she’s bringing them back to life year after year!

Good To Know

  • The white trumpet flowers symbolize purity, hope and life.
  • After Easter services many Churches will tend to the plants as long as they can then throw them out. Check with your parish and let them know you’re interested in taking a few home when they’re ready to get rid of them…you might just get a few for free!
  • Lilies are very poisonous to cats so make sure to keep them out of reach of your favorite feline.
  • No garden or flower bed to dig into? You can repot in a patio container and grow outside on your deck or balcony.

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Comments

    • Sheryl at Providence Acres Farm
    Reply

    Every year I take the finished and cut off Easter lilies from a few churches and plant them in the flowerbed. I put them in the ground immediately, which is usually in April. The current growth dies back and they grow up again from the bulb the same summer. Most even bloom again in late summer with lots of blooms! They are perennial, as well, coming back each spring to bloom again! I love them! Their scent is heavenly!

    • Pam, Milford, VA
    Reply

    I have a couple Easter Lilies that have finished blooming that I used in he church for Easter. I would like to plant them in my flower bed outside, however, I’m a “first-timer” at this, and I was wondering if after planting — I need to cut back the foliage any? Any helpful tips for this novice, would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

      • Val
      Reply

      No, no need to cut back the foliage. Treat as you would any plant outdoors. Because it’s a bulb, water only when it doesn’t rain and the soil is dry. Otherwise it should be fine. I planted mine beside my cement driveway and it’s got several babies in two years. It gets morning sun only, but afternoon sun isn’t far away.

        • Pam
        Reply

        Hey Val — thanks for the response. My Lilies seem to be blooming well — glad I didn’t cut the foliage back though…never thought about needing it for the bulb. I’m not exactly the “green thumb” person re flowers:-( How often do you have to divide the plants? I may have babies and don’t even know it!

      • Philip
      Reply

      Hey Pam, I bought an Easter Lily at a Walmart after Easter for a dollar fifty. After enjoying the blooms I always let the foliage remain on the plant till it died back. That usually happens around September. After the stalk really dies back, I will snap it off and throw the bulb in the refrigerator crisper section. For some reason, it seems that Easter lilies need a cool dormancy. I would not advise trimming the foliage back because it sends food to the bulb which is necessary for next years flowers. The lily has always bloomed, except usually later than Easter. They seem to be an easy plant to bloom.

        • Pam
        Reply

        Thanks for the response Philip. Good tip about keeping the bulbs in the refrigerator crisper section — will keep that in mind for next year:) Because I get Lilies for church each Easter…I am starting to have a nice collection around my house:-) I must be doing something right because I’m enjoying blooms each year…only around June. Thank again.

    • carly
    Reply

    Hey Pam,

    I have dozens of lillys that lost thier blooms still in the pots, I would like to save them and store them and replant them in about thre months I live in san Diego, so it would be warm. can I do that???

    • Patrick Walsh
    Reply

    To Carly of San Diego … As a former Marin County, Ca. Resident now living in hot and humid, coastal central Florida, I purchased 20 plants from Lowes on Easter for 10 cents @ and transplanted them into well drained soil w/PM sun as soon as I got them home. The plants had been allowed to wither by Lowes so I had nothing but bulbs to plant. This was Spring of 2012. On Easter of this year I had no blooms {Easter was early) but I did have the stems, up to three feet, of over 40 plants which were almost crawling along the ground looking for the Western sun. By late April I was inundated with beautiful, bountiful blooms. It is now late July and a few plants are still showing off. As a “lily novice” my biggest mistake was too much AM to early PM shade. I will be moving the plants (if they ever stop blooming). Note: To “TIP NUT”. My cats thank you for the info about the danger to Felines! & Carly, San Diego weather should be fine. Just keep them watered!

    • carol robbert
    Reply

    I planted four Easter Lilys from church in the fall of 2012 and the next spring I had 8-10 new plants and they bloomed,(profusely) by Easter.

      • Flowerlover
      Reply

      Many good tips. Im going to look for some 10 cent lillies next Easter!!!

    • Corinna Martinez
    Reply

    Hello, I live in Palm Coast, FL and have 2 potted Easter lily plants which I am watering regularly to keep alive. Can I keep them in the pots and place them in the lanai (facing northeast) although weather is getting to be in 80’s in May/June. Most of the green leaves are slowly getting yellow brown.
    Thank you.

    • gitta
    Reply

    I bought an Lillium Sunny Azores at Costco. the bulb was completely closed. i planted them in my garden and I was excited to see them bloom for a while. Well they opened very nicely but died very quickly I am wondering if we over watered them along with my impatients half hour every night? Will they come back again next year? any suggestion for care?

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