Can I Plant My Easter Lily?

Do you treat your Easter lily like a bouquet of cut flowers and throw it out when all the flowers have faded? Many people do, but you have options!

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Out in my garden the white blooms of Easter lilies, Lilium longiflorum, open up every summer. Where did I get them? I bought some on impulse a few days before Easter. I can’t resist buying one or two when they pop up at the grocery store.

I’ve picked up other Easter lilies weeks later from church. They kindly set them out for people to take and plant once they’ve finished blooming. They’re easy to pop into a perennial flower garden to fill in a few open spots.

Caring for an Easter Lily

When buying a potted Easter lily, look for plants with flower buds not quite opened. They’ll usually open within a few days, and you’ll enjoy the blooms for longer.

As the flowers open, remove the stamens to prevent pollen from dropping onto your table. Pollen from any type of lily can stain tablecloths.

When you water your Easter lily, remove the foil sleeve so water drains freely out of the pot. You can put the sleeve back on for decoration. Water when the soil feels dry.

You probably won’t get your Easter lily to bloom again as a potted houseplant. These lilies aren’t meant to be indoors long-term. They’re perennials that die back each winter, returning in the spring. Also, learn how to care for an Easter cactus.

Are Easter Lilies Poisonous to Cats?

Yes. If you suspect your cat ate a leaf or petal from your Easter lily, call your vet right away for treatment. Easter lilies aren’t poisonous to dogs, though one might get sick from eating the leaves or flowers.

Can You Plant Easter Lilies Outside?

It depends where you live. Like many other spring-potted bulbs and flowers, you can plant them outside in United States Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 8.

How To Plant an Easter Lily

Once you’ve finished enjoying your Easter lily as a potted flower, acclimate it to the weather by putting it outside in the shade for a few hours a day. Gradually increase its outdoor time each day.

Once your garden is frost-free, plant your Easter lily. Choose a location with well-drained soil and at least six hours of sun per day. Your Easter lily will grow up to three feet tall and won’t re-bloom until next summer.

For best display, plant several Easter lilies in a group about 12 inches apart. Mulch will keep them from drying out.

You can also plant them in large containers. But it will require special care to overwinter it, and it won’t last as long as one in the ground.

Fertilizing

If your soil is rich enough, you may not need to fertilize your Easter lily. If you’re unsure or the lilies don’t grow well, fertilize early in the year with any product formulated for flowering plants. You won’t need to fertilize Easter lilies in the ground as often as those in containers, which require weekly treatment.

Pruning

Cut off spent blooms. Allow the foliage to grow until it yellows.

You can also cut Easter lilies for flower arrangements. Choose flowers that have just begun to open. They should last about two weeks in a vase, especially if you change the water daily.

Overwintering

Easter lilies will overwinter just fine in the ground if you live in U.S.Department of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zones 4 through 8. Once the stems and leaves have yellowed in the fall, cut them back to ground level.

For Easter lilies in large containers, stop watering as fall approaches and cut them back when they turn yellow. Then move the container where it will stay cool and dry, like an unheated shed or garage, or a cold frame. Easter lilies may only last a few years in containers.

Carol J. Michel
Carol J. Michel is the award-winning author of five books of humorous and helpful gardening essays and two children’s books. With degrees in horticulture and computer technology from Purdue University, she spent over three decades making a living in healthcare IT while making a life in her garden. She grows vegetables, annuals, perennials, trees, shrubs and houseplants. In between tending her own garden and writing about it, she records a weekly gardening podcast, The Gardenangelists, with Oklahoma-based garden writer and coach Dee Nash.