Easter is just behind us, and many people received a potted lily (lilium longiflorum) during March or April for the holiday. Although you could let that potted plant wilt and die, you can also preserve it with proper care. Lilies that are properly cared for will continue to bloom in your home for several weeks. When the bloom fades, you can plant the bulb in a planter, or even in your landscape. Planted lilies will continue to bloom for many years.
Potted Lilly Care
In order to keep your lily looking fresh, keep the soil moist, but not wet. Lily potting soil should feel just as damp as your laundry when it comes out of the spin cycle. If you overwater your plant, the bulb will rot. Water your plant early in the day so that the leaves dry out to prevent mildew on them. Add a water soluble, 5-10-5 fertilizer to the plant’s water to promote blooms.
Place the plant in a bright location such as an eastern or north facing window. Lilies may be placed in a western or south facing window if the window is covered with a lace curtain. Never put the lily in direct sunlight. This can cause the plant to wilt faster. At the same time, avoid drafts that can cause the plant to drop its blooms from cold.
Remove the yellow anthers from the blooms whenever they open. The anthers resemble large pin heads with yellow grains on the tip. This will prevent pollen from staining and smudging the petals of the plant, or creating a mess in your home.
Remove the flower heads as soon as they wilt.
Once All Blooms Fade
Reduce watering the potted plant once it no longer produces flowers. The bulb will not use as much water at this point. Maintaining the same water level will cause the bulb to rot.
Wait for the foliage to fade and dry out. Then cut off the stem of the bulb so that it is just a few inches above the soil. Stop watering the plant at this point.
Plant the bulb in the soil in May after all danger of frost has passed. Bulbs should be planted in well drained soil in a location that receives 6 hours of sun. Gently tease out the lily roots so that the plant does not form a root ball. Place the bulbs in the soil at a depth of 6 to 8 inches with the root spread out. Mulch over the bulb to keep it cool. The bulb will begin to produce foliage and may even flower again before the end of the summer. If the bulb does not flower again, do not worry. They usually will flower again the following spring.
Do not try to keep your lily indoors indefinitely. Lily bulbs are forced so that they bloom in March and April. The forcing process weakens the bulb. If the bulb is left in its flower pot indoors, it will not force the following year.