Garden News: Want to hang on to Easter lilies?

With Easter behind us, you may have a remnant of the holiday in the form of an Easter lily or two. You can keep them around for a long time — first in your home, then in your garden.

As the flowers open, you can remove the yellow anthers before the pollen starts to shed, says LSU AgCenter horticulturist Dan Gill. This prevents the flowers from pollinating so they last longer. It also keeps the pollen from staining the white flowers or flying around the room.

When a mature flower starts to wither after its prime, cut it off to make the plant more attractive while you still enjoy the fresher, newly opened blooms. Once the flowers have all faded, you can plant your Easter lily outside in a garden bed, Gill says. They’re hardy annuals in Louisiana and will emerge every spring.

And if you don’t have a place to plant them, you can give the lilies to a friend or start a bed at your church or similar location for years of enjoyment.

To move your plant to the garden, first trim off the top where the flowers bloomed, but don’t remove any leaves. Take the lily from the pot and plant it into a well-prepared bed enriched with compost. Choose a location that receives morning sun and some afternoon shade.

Easter lilies go dormant in midsummer. When the leaves turn yellow, cut the plant back to ground level and, if necessary, mark the location so you’ll remember where it is.

The plants will begin to grow again in fall, around October. Fertilize them at that time. They will grow over the winter — don’t worry about freezes — and should bloom the next year in late April, Gill says.

Every year the clump will get larger and produce more flower stalks. To keep the plants healthy, divide the clump every three to five years in mid- to late summer when the foliage yellows or in fall just as the new growth begins.

You can divide lilies by digging up the bulbs, separating them and replanting them 10 to 12 inches apart and about 5 inches deep.

Got a gardening question? Write to GardenNews@agcenter.lsu.edu.