TTU agriculture professor Douglas Airhart offers tips for transplanting Easter lilies

Signs of spring are literally blooming all around—and some of those springtime blooms will be on white Easter and garden lilies.

Tennessee Tech University agriculture professor Douglas Airhart offers some tips about planting them once the blooms have disappeared but their leaves are still lively and green.

“In Tennessee, the beautiful white lilies used to celebrate Easter are hardy perennials. With the proper treatment they can be planted in your garden to provide plants with beautiful flowers for years to come,” Airhart said.

In greenhouses, the lilies were forced to flower in time for Easter, but they will not naturally bloom in your yard at Easter, he said.
While indoors, treat your Easter lily as a potted plant.

“Water it only when the potting mix becomes dry to about an inch down from the surface,” Airhart said.

Take the pot out of the foil wrapper (if there is one), carry it to your sink or outside and fill the pot to the brim with water. Let the water drain from the bottom of the pot before replacing it into the foil wrapper.

“Over-watering or poor drainage may cause the stem or bulb to rot in the pot,” he said.

When one of the white flowers begins to fade, snap it off at the base to encourage the other flowers to develop fully. After all the flowers have faded, it is time to plant the bulb and stem outdoors.

Dig a hole one-and-a-half times the depth of the pot (usually about nine inches) and about the same width as the pot.

Remove the pot from the plant, and without disturbing the root mass, put the root mass into the hole. (The stem and leaves of the plant will be partly under the ground level and partly above the ground level). Gently tamp the soil around the edges of the root mass to remove air gaps, and then water the loose soil to settle it into the hole.

“You can remove the leaves from the stem up to the soil line and finish filling the hole now, or you can wait until the leaves and stem turn brown and dry to cut the stem and fill the hole,” Airhart said.

When the stem does wither, do not pull the dead stem from the ground, but rather cut if off at the soil level. This will prevent the bulb from being damaged below the soil surface.

Put a label at the site where the lilies are planted to remind you to not to place other plants on top of them if they happen to be late in sprouting.

“The first time I planted Easter lilies in my yard, they sprouted and flowered again in August, but this doesn’t happen every time,” Airhart said.

Apply Now