Easter lilies an August beauty |  Local News

Easter lilies an August beauty | Local News

A familiar face in an unfamiliar setting usually causes some confusion and perplexity. The visage is known, but the surroundings are completely alien to the individual, which results in bewilderment for the person left to puzzle out, “How do I know you, again?”

In a flash (typically) the correct identification is realized and the awkwardness of the moment dissipates. Gardeners can experience a similar scenario with plants seen in an unfamiliar location.

Given so many exotic and seasonally showy horticultural products, it is challenging to keep up with all the blooms. Nonetheless, there are some ornamental plants which have longstanding popularity in Wakulla County, and many other places.

The Easter Lily is a good example of a flower seen in pots during the early spring holiday and then ignored for the remainder of the year. Lilium longiflorium, as the plant is botanically known, are sometimes placed outside among other potted ornamentals and left to its fate.

Surprisingly hardy, it will flourish in the warming temperatures of spring and summer and may continue to bloom. Those plants sold in retail establishments for Easter were held under specific conditions in greenhouses and “forced” to bloom for the holiday.

If planted outside, this resilient lily will easily withstand the winter temperatures in North Florida. Soil should be moderately well drained and rich in organic matter.

These lilies grow better if located in a sunny location. Easter lilies are propagated commercially by planting their bulbs, and these can be found locally at garden centers early in the year.

Plants grown in the home landscape can be divided and spread. This low-cost method takes time and some work, but is usually successful and keeps the domestic budget intact.

Easter lilies also produce seed with their blooms. This is how the robust plant with the large white flower will turn up in some unexpected and unusual places.

A native of Taiwan and the Ryukyu Islands in east Asia’s maritime region, it arrived in the US during the early part of the 20th century. During this period a wide range of exotic plants were imported to meet the demand for new floral options in public and private landscapes.

As with many plants taken out of their native range, some escaped into the wild. Fortunately, in this case the potential to be an invasive pest was nonexistent.

Still, the seed of this ornamental plant can be transported by wind, water and animals. Germination is dependent upon the seed settling in a hospitable spot with plenty of sun exposure.

As with most plants, once the first specimen is established, some seed from succeeding years will sprout. These perennials will form a collection or bunch of the lilies, which are hard to miss when in bloom during summer.

The lilium genus has more than 100 members, and this offers an opportunity for the amateur plant breeder. Pollen from the Easter Lily can be transferred to other lilies in the landscape to form hybrid seed.

The results can produce some attractive surprises for the patient person. At least the location should be familiar even if the hybrid’s color scheme is not.

To learn more about this east Asian beauty in Wakulla County, contact your UF/IFAS Wakulla Extension Office at 850-926-3931 or http://wakulla.ifas.ufl.edu/.


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