University of Vermont Extension
Department of Plant and Soil Science
AN EASTER BASKET OF FLOWERS
Dr. Leonard Perry, Extension
University of Vermont
flower that most often comes to mind when we think of Easter is, of course, the
Easter lily. But there are other flowers appropriate for this time of year as well,
all with rather interesting origins.
the Alps, the narcissus has been associated with Easter for centuries. In fact,
even before Christianity, the narcissus represented springtime in Greek
mythology. It is still widely used as
the main Easter flower in many countries.
England and Russia, pussy willows are used for Easter flowers. In the Middle
East, it is wild tulips, while in Mexico, tropical flowers fill the churches
during this spring holiday season. The early Germans decorated with red flowers
and red fruited plants such as English holly, believing the red color
represented the blood of Christ. The field anemone (Anemone coronaria)
also was associated with the passion of Christ.
Easter cactus (Hatiora gaertneri,
formerly Rhipsalidopsis), is so named
as this relative of the Thanksgiving and Christmas cacti, all looking almost
identical, blooms in spring. The
funnel-shaped, flaring flowers are either rose purple or scarlet orange, coming
out of flat, segmented leaves. These, as
their kin, are often found in hanging baskets where they’re well adapted,
growing naturally on trees in Brazil.
The flowers open during the day, closing at night. Being a cactus, keep this one on the dry
you know the Bermuda lily? You probably
do, as this is the true name of the Easter lily, deriving
from its origin. It is a pure white
flower, believed to symbolize purity. Coming
from one bulb, the
flower is said to represent the tomb of Jesus with the blossoms symbolizing his
life after death. It is the most common
flowering potted plant of spring.
buying a lily, select a plant with many unopened buds and leaves all the way
down the stem. Poor growing conditions or root disease will cause the loss of
leaves from the bottom up, so be sure to pull back the wrapper to check.
a well-proportioned plant, one that's about two to three times as high as the
pot. Check the buds, flowers, and leaves--especially the undersides--for signs
of insect pests and disease.
keep your lily healthy at home, remove the decorative foil or paper covering
the pot, or make a hole in the bottom, to allow better drainage. Put your plant
where it will get plenty of bright, indirect light and cool temperatures. About
40 to 50 degrees F at night, or as cool as possible, and below 68 degrees F
during the day is ideal.
also will need to keep the soil constantly moist. To prolong the life of the
blossoms, remove the yellow, pollen-bearing pods or anthers found in the center
of each flower as it opens.
expect your lily to flower again as it's already been "forced" once
by the grower to bloom in time for Easter. However, you might get your lily to
bloom again next fall by planting it outdoors once the soil has warmed up.
you plan to replant your lily outdoors, remove the flowers as they fade. Put
the plant on a sunny windowsill for four to six weeks until the foliage
matures. Continue to water. When the
leaves turn brown, cut the stem off at the soil line. Then in late May, plant
the bulb four to six inches deep in a sunny, well-drained location. Fertilize
twice during the summer. With luck, your lily will bloom this fall. Just don't
count on it surviving a northern winter.
Other appropriate flowers for
Easter, and spring in general, are other bulbs such as tulips and hyacinths,
and azaleas. The bulbs can be purchased
as cut flowers, or in pots. If potted,
the hyacinths can be planted outside in warmer weather, and may survive to
future years. Most tulips, however, will
not come back next spring. If giving the
hyacinth as a gift, make sure the recipient isn’t allergic to the strong odor
of the flowers.
Azaleas come in reds, white, and
pinks. They are tender, so wont survive
winter outdoors in northern climates.
Still, they are a good value.
Keep them moist (not wet), and cool with plenty of light, and you should
get several weeks of blooms indoors.