(above picture from Paul Parent Garden Club)
Good gardening friend Paul Parent of the Paul Parent Garden Club (http://www.paulparent.com/) sends out a great newsletter every week with pertinent gardening topics. I encourage you to go to his website to sign up for his newsletter. Paul can also be heard every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 10 AM at his website or at WBACH (104.7 FM) every Sunday morning from 6 AM to 9 AM. Paul recently sent this article out called Easter Lilies (I have added a few comments in italics) and here it is:
"The Easter lily was once the most popular flowering plant of the spring season for our home. The pure white flowers in the shape of a trumpet seem to announce the arrival of spring and the first sacred holiday of the season. Easter lilies do not naturally bloom during this time of the year. The plant has to be forced and tricked to bloom well ahead of its normal blooming time, July. Not only that, but Easter is at a different time most years and it is a challenge for the greenhouse grower to make the lilies flower at the right time. When in college, I learned how to grow them and it is like no other plant. Temperature, light, and water will determine if you are early, late, or make them flower right on time. This year Easter is on April 4, 2010. In 2008, Easter was March 23rd. If Easter is this early, the greenhouse grower is growing The Christmas poinsettia at the same time and in the same greenhouse as the Easter lilies.
My college roommate grew up in a family-run greenhouse and taught me a lot about seasonal plants. When we were learning about the Easter lily our professor said to my roommate ,"Mr. Dunlop can you tell the class how you grow Easter ilies?" Bruce responded, "In a wheelbarrow and I moved them from a cold greenhouse if they were growing too fast or to a hot greenhouse if they were not growing fast enough." His next comment was, "I hate Easter lllies." Now you know how difficult it is to grow them, so enjoy when you purchase or receive one this year.
Easter lilies should be selected with just 1 or 2 flowers open on the plant and many tight buds for the future. This will give you more time to enjoy the flowers in your home. As the trumpets open, be sure to remove the yellow pollen sacks in the trumpet. This will extend the flowering time for each flower by a day or two. Removing the pollen sacks will also prevent staining to clothing or furniture. When the flower becomes tired, remove it right to the stem and be sure to remove the small green ball at the base of the flower. This is the seedpod, and if not removed it steals energy from the plant, making your other flower bloom for a shorter time.
Always remove the plastic or tinfoil wrap around the pot to prevent water buildup and rotting of the bulb. Keep moist but never wet and there is no need to fertilize. Keep the plant in a bright room and as cool as possible; remember -- a cool room keeps a plant flowering longer. Keep away from a south facing window, as the hot sun will speed up the flowering time.
Most people throw away the lily plant after the holiday. This plant is winter hardy in New England and all you have to do is care for in until May and then plant it in your perennial garden. Dig a hole 8 inches deep and add 2 inches of compost to the bottom of the hole. Remove the plant from the pot, set it in the hole, and now fill the hole with soil and firm the plant in place with your hands. Spread a handful of perennial food (Plant Tone or Bulb Tone by Espoma) around the plant and work it into the soil. Water weekly for the next 4 weeks and the plant will prepare for next year by splitting in two and make two flower stems with flowers during next July.
If you have lilies and have a problem with orange bugs that eat holes in the leaves of the plant, treat the plant as soon as they come out of the ground this spring with Bayer Advanced Tree and Shrub Systemic Spray. Use one tablespoon per gallon of water and water the plant with the mixture. Use a quart of the mixture for each clump of bulbs and the plants will be "insect free" for the rest of the year. Happy Easter!"