Easy-to-care-for Easter lilies can continue beyond the holiday

Symbol of the resurrection

-Messenger photo by Dawn Bliss Jeff Becker, of Becker Florists and Garden Center, prepares an Easter lily from the greenhouse for a customer. Easter lilies are easy to care for and can be planted outside as a perrenial bulb once its blooms are finished.

The Easter lily is a seasonal icon, one that can be found filling places of worship throughout the area.

Its trumpet-shaped white flowers have come to represent purity, hope and life everlasting. Throughout history, lilies have been used in poems, scripture and art to commemorate the resurrection of Jesus Christ and white lilies especially have been associated with the Virgin Mary.

“They’ve really become a symbol of the Easter season,” said Jeff Becker, of Becker Florists and Garden Center, in Fort Dodge. “They represent the resurrection. The bulbs are dormant then come to life.”

It’s this connection to the Christian holiday that not only gives the flower its name, he said, but also results in their presence surrounding crosses and flanking altars in chapels and churches everywhere.

Rick Lamoureux, greenhouse manager for Smitty’s Lawn, Landscape and Garden, in Fort Dodge, said in addition to placing them in churches, people will also give them as gifts and add them to their own home decor.

-Messenger photo by Dawn Bliss Reaching in and pinching off the yellow pollen anthers in an Easter lily will delay the flower's cycle, causing the lily to hold its bloom longer, said Rick Lamoureux, greenhouse manager for Smitty's Lawn, Landscape and Garden.

“A lot of it is tradition,” he said. “Also, people like that they are blooming in time for the holiday.”

Caring for the lily is relatively easy, Becker said. People can water the plant when the soil feels dry to the touch. It is suggested people keep a drain saucer under the base of the pot to catch excess water run-through. That saucer needs to be drained to prevent root rot. Also, moderate temperatures are preferred by the lily, so avoid displaying them in excessively hot or cold areas.

The plant’s white flowers typically open and remain for about a week, Becker said. If you select a plant with different stages of buds on it, the lily can bloom for a month or longer.

Lamoureux said people can extend the presence of the blooms even longer by reaching into the flower and pinching off and removing the yellow pollen anthers.

“It delays the cycle and holds the blossom longer,” he said.

-Messenger photo by Dawn Bliss Removing the yellow pollen anthers from inside Easter lily blooms will cause the flower to hold its bloom longer, said Rick Lamoureux, greenhouse manager for Smitty's Lawn, Landscape, and Garden.

Once the lily has finished blooming, the plant can go outside, Becker said. Find a protected spot on the south side of the house where more sun is typically found and plant the bulb. Gardeners can sometimes see new shoots emerge that flower in July or August, but if the plant doesn’t flower later that summer, it usually will flower the next season.

Becker suggested people with allergies or sensitivities to the scent of the lily can try a mixture of other flowering plants, such as hydrangeas.

A few common alternatives listed by Lamoureux include peace lilies, the flowering white kalanchoe plant and the Martha Washington geranium.

-Messenger photo by Dawn Bliss The Easter lily is a common sight in churches and homes during the Christian holiday. It has become a symbol for the resurrection, said Jeff Becker of Becker Florists and Garden Center.

-Messenger photo by Dawn Bliss Martha Washington geraniums are a colorful alternative to the traditional Easter lily, said Rick Lamoureux, greenhouse manager for Smity's Lawn, Landscape and Garden.