Though white lilies have symbolized Easter for centuries, the large lily popular in homes and churches today is a recent arrival. Native to southern islands of Japan, Lilium longiflorum bulbs were taken to Bermuda in the 1800’s. Louis Houghton, a World War I soldier, took a suitcase of bulbs home to Oregon in 1919 and distributed them to friends and neighbors. The bulbs were so well-adapted commercial farms arose.
Today 95 percent of the world’s Easter lily bulbs are produced along the Oregon-Washington border. The bulbs are field-harvested in the fall and shipped to greenhouses worldwide where they are potted and forced under exacting conditions to bloom for Easter.
Good care will increase bloom longevity in the home. Easter lilies prefer moderately cool temperatures. Avoid drafts from open doors or heating ducts. Place in bright or filtered sunlight, but not in hot, direct sun.
Keep soil moist when in full bloom. If the pot has decorative wrapping, poke holes and place on a drainage dish to avoid drowning.
Reblooming lilies in a pot is usually unsuccessful. But they can rebloom outdoors as a perennial lily in a flowerbed with winter protection.
After Easter grow the plant in a sunny window, and add Miracle Gro or other soluble fertilizer each time you water. The longer the foliage stays healthy, the stronger the bulb becomes. Gradually decrease watering frequency as foliage naturally turns from green to yellow to brown.
By mid to late May cut stalks to several inches above soil, remove from the pot, and replant the bulb in a permanent flowerbed outdoors in a protected, but sunny spot.
Plant four to six inches deep, depending on soil heaviness. New shoots will emerge and bloom in September the first season and in mid-July thereafter. Because Easter lilies are tender, maximize protection by planting near the house foundation, cover with a foot of leaves or mulch in the fall, and ensure good snow cover.