With Easter coming up this weekend, I thought I’d share the interesting story behind Easter lilies. While Easter lilies are not often used in weddings and event floral design (they seem to be overshadowed by the sexier Cala Lily, or lilies in bright colors), but you do see them everywhere at Easter. They are often available at grocery stores and flower shops as a potted plant. But you can plant the bulb and flower in your garden and with some care and attention, you can have Easter lilies growing every year. If you were to be able to cultivate a nice collection of lilies, you could make some lovely centerpieces or arrangements with your own flowers!
Easter lilies, also known as Bermuda lilies, are large, white, trumpet lilies. They are native to Japan and mostly cultivated there (although in the late 19th century they were also cultivated in Bermuda, hence the name). In 1919, a World War I soldier, Louis Houghton, brought a suitcase full of hybrid lily bulbs to his home on the southern coast of Oregon where he distributed them to his friends and family to grow. They flourished, as the climate was just right, but Japan still had a corner on the “Easter Lily” market. In 1941 when Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, the Japanese flowers were cut off and the American-grown flowers became much more valuable and in-demand.
The number of commercial growers grew at first, but eventually dwindled to a small strip of land straddling the Oregon-California border. This is where nearly all of the Easter Lily bulbs come from. The bulbs are then shipped to greenhouse growers around the country to eventually end up as potted plants sold for the two weeks prior to Easter. That’s right – just two weeks! Potted Easter lilies have one of shortest holiday sale window. Easter lilies are the fourth most popular potted plant sold in the U.S., behind poinsettias, mums and azaleas. Impressive when you think about how little time they spend in stores!
If you buy a potted Easter lily, or receive one as a gift, you can plant it in your garden and have lilies for years to come. For more information on how to care for your potted Easter lily and how to plant it, as well as more historical background, visit Aggie Horticulture.
A potted Easter lily makes a lovely centerpiece on its own. If you have cut flowers, you can make a lovely centerpiece such as these:
I love the idea of an all-white Easter centerpiece with hydrangea, roses and an Easter lily (plus cala lilies if you have them!)
Have a wonderful Easter weekend!