Now that the flowers of the Easter Lily have withered, many people are wondering what to do with the remaining plant. The lily doesn't survive as a houseplant, but it can be planted outdoors where it should bloom again. Until it is safe to plant outdoors, keep the plant in a sunny window and water thoroughly when slightly dry.
Select a bright sunny spot in the garden to plant the bulb. Remove the plant from the container and loosen the root system. There will be some torn roots, but it is better for the plant than the compacted root system it has in the container. Plant the bulb a few inches deeper than it was in the container and cover with soil. Water thoroughly and fertilize with an all-purpose garden fertilizer. For the remainder of the season water and fertilize as you would other garden plantings. Soon after planting the old top will wither and die. This is no cause for alarm because new shoots will soon emerge that may flower in July or August. If the plant doesn't flower later that summer, they will flower the next summer in June.
Some gardeners have good results when overwintering lilies although they are not reliably hardy. To improve your chances for overwintering success, mulch the plants with at least 4" of straw in the fall. Another option is to dig the bulb in the fall and store indoors the same way we do other tender bulbs such as canna.
This article originally appeared in the April 29, 1992 issue, p. 61.