Which flowers to give for Easter, and how to care for them

Easter Flower Alert!

Yes, I know I am behind on dealing with your lawn care questions and other emails, but Easter Sunday will mean a lot of flowers being moved — so we’re going to talk about your flowering options and what can (or will) become of them afterward.


Tulips and daffodils are always a good choice

If you need (or feel the need) to bring flowers somewhere Sunday but have not obtained them yet, I strongly suggest purchasing spring bulbs such as daffodils or tulips. With a small bit of attention from new owners after the holidays, potted spring bulbs can be “naturalized” — a twenty-dollar word that basically means you didn’t kill them outright.

And no group of flowers symbolizes the spirit of rebirth better than the family of spring bulbs. And Easter is all about rebirth! (And yes — at least when I was growing up — it was also all about giant chocolate “eggs” the size of a meatloaf that you carve with a knife normally reserved for an eye roast, but that’s a different Easter story.)

Anyway, out in our gardens, “spring bulb” encompasses everything from January-blooming snowdrops and Glory of Snow to crocus to the daffodils and tulips currently in bloom. And you see lots of nice daffs and tulips for sale around Easter; they’re easy for growers to cultivate and have big impressive flowers.

When buying, select plants whose flowers are open slightly but not wide. The tighter the flower head, the longer the blooms will last indoors.


Pansies are also perfect

I’m also seeing lots of exceptional-looking pansies for sale, and they are an excellent Easter flower choice. They’ll look great on the dining room table, with no risk of drooping over like with spring bulbs. And pansies can be planted in the ground right after the holidays, where they will continue to bloom through June — maybe a little later if you position them in partial shade.

(Pansies are cool-weather lovers that won’t survive long in the summer heat — but they should look good for a couple more months outdoors. And planting them where they’ll get some afternoon shade should keep them cool enough to prolong the show by a week or two.)


Lilies: Traditional, but not very functional

Sorry, but lilies won’t experience rebirth, and even if you do manage to get them to survive, they won’t bloom anywhere near Easter.

As the story (at least one story) goes, the plant we call the Easter lily came to the United States in the form of a suitcase full of summer-blooming bulbs brought back by a World War I soldier. Those bulbs went into cultivation on the West Coast, became popular, and are now forced by the millions to bloom months ahead of their normal time for Easter lily sales.

That’s “forced” as in “by professionals with greenhouses and coolers the size of the Pentagon.” If you can get the plants to survive in your garden — and that’s a huge “if” — you might get lily flowers to reappear in a few years; but they will appear in June or July, not at Easter. Lilies are summer-blooming in the real world.

That’s why I’m partial to spring bulbs; they’re natural Easter flowers that bloom in our landscapes at this time of year. (And forsythia — why is forsythia not an official Easter flower?! I’m writing a stern letter to The Post about this!)

Anyway, if you still want to try naturalizing your lily, give the leaves as much sun as possible while protecting the plant from temps below 45. Then plant the bulbs in full sun after all risk of frost is over. If the original forcing conditions were in your favor, they might bloom again later this year. Generally, you’ll get leaves alone for a few summers and then maybe flowers.



Easter Flowers 101

On Sunday, millions of flowers will be gifted to unsuspecting people who thought that they only had to make the ham and buy butter that looks like a baby sheep.

  • If you are gifted with lilies, my advice is to enjoy them while they last and then toss the bulbs; it’s too much trouble otherwise.
  • If you get pansies, plant them outside on a cool evening and they’ll rebloom vigorously until summer heat does them in.
  • If you get Spring bulbs, read down to the next item.
  • No matter what plant you get, smile, check the ham, and then place the flowers in the coolest spot in your home, away from heat sources and direct sunlight. If the pot feels light, take off the foil, sit the pot in a bowl of water for an hour and then put it back on display.
  • Yes, you can put the foil back on.


Getting spring bulbs to re-bloom

Of all the Easter flowers available right now, spring bulbs are the ones that make the most sense (rebirth every Easter season) and are, in my estimation, the best to give or get. If you’re buying, look for non-droopy plants with tight flower heads.

If you receive, display them in a cool spot indoors. After the flowers fade, cut off any seedheads that form at the top of the stalks, move the pots outside into bright sunshine, get rid of the foil and water them well. If you have the space, sinking the pots into the ground is a great idea.

Whatever you do, let the greenery naturally turn brown. Then let the pot dry out and stash it someplace you’ll find it again around Halloween. The day after trick-or-treat, take the bulbs out of their pots, plant them in the ground and with a little bit of luck, they’ll rebloom next spring. (If you don’t got any personal ground, give them away or “Green Guerrilla” them into a public space.)

And yes, I am probably the only person to ever mention Halloween and Easter in the same bit. How’s that ham doing?

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