The Easter lily with its large, fragrant, pure white flowers is traditional for the annual Christian festival celebrating the resurrection of Jesus.
If given good care, it may stay in bloom one, two or even three weeks, depending on the enviornment in which it is kept. As flower buds open, remove the yellow anthers to prevent discoloration of the petals.
The lily needs good light (no sunlight), cool temperatures at night (60 to 65) and adequate moisture. As soon as the flowers fade, remove them; afterward the plant should watered less frequently.
When the soil warms up outdoors, it can be planted in the garden, four to six inches deep, in a sunny location. It may bloom again in the fall and continue to bloom in earyly summer for years in areas where winter temperatures seldom below zero.
Other popular plants for Easter include potted tulips, hyacinths, daffodils, chrysanthemums, gardenia, azalea, hydrangea and miniature oranges.
The main thing is to keep them cool at night. The tulips, hyacinths, daffodils and azalea prefer a night-time temperature of 50 to 55, the chrysanthemum and hydrangea 60 to 65, and the gardenia and miniature orange 65 to 70.
Daytime temperatures should be about 10 degrees higher than at night.
The hydrangea will be all right in rather dim light, the gardenia and miniature orange need very good light, just short of direct sunlught (which would dry them out too rapidly), and the azaleas, chrysanthemums, tulips, hyacinths and daffodils about half-way between dim and bright.
Blooming plant usually need to be watered every day or two, depending on the weather. If it is cloudy and light is rather dim, they won't need to be watered as often.
Water them when the soil feels dry to your touch. Water until water comes out at the bottom of the pot. Wait about 20 minutes for excess water to drain and empty the saucer. If the pot is enclosed in tinfoil, punch a hole in the bottom so water can escape. If the pot stands in water for long, root rot is likely to occur.
If the pot has no drainage hole, you just have to guess how much water to apply. If enought is not applied, the roots get none because they are at the extremes of the pot. If too much is applied, water collects in the bottom of the pot and root rot is almost certain to occur.
Dob't let the plant dry out. If it goes unwatered for too long and starts to wilt, considerable damage will have been done, particularly to the flowers, from which they may never recover. If it happens twice, goodbye flowers.
When a gardenia is moved from the high humidity of the greenhouse to the dry heat of the home, it likely to drop most of its flower buds and some of its leaves. Eventually it should adjust to the home enviornment and make a very attractive house plant. if would not survive winter weather outdoors.
Most of the gardenia flower buds may be saved by syringing the plant two or three times a day with water at room temperature. This will compensate to some degree for the dry air.
If the azalea is of a hardy variety (the ones forced into bloom for Christmas and Easter rarely are) it can be planted outdoors permanently after danger of frost is over. Semi-shade is best for it outdoors. The same is true of the hydrangea.
Most potted chrysanthemums sold for Easter are greenhouse varieties that do not bloom naturally until late October or early November (florists force them). If planted outdoors in areas where frost comes early, they may not bloom in time and the flower buds may be ruined.
If you want to try it outdoors, when the weather gets warm cut the chrysanthemum back to about four inches and plant it in the garden where it gets full sun. If there are two or more plants, seprate and plant them individually. If frost threatens before they bloom, dig them, put them in pots, place in a sunny window and hope for the best.
The potted tulips, hyacinths and daffodils can be taken out of their pots when the weather gets warm and planted outdoors.