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Connecticut Garden Journal: Easter lilies are traditional, but consider growing calla lilies too

Bed of Cala Lilies in springtime.
Tetra Images/Getty Images/Tetra images RF
Tetra images RF
Calla lilies make great Easter gifts. Plant this annual flower outdoors in early summer in a part-sun location and it should keep flowering until fall.

Easter is here and for those celebrating, flowers are often part of the festivities. The Easter lily is probably the best known Easter flower. I remember going to church as a boy in Waterbury and having the whole building perfumed with the dozens of Easter lilies on the alter.

The Easter lily is a type of summer blooming trumpet lily that's native to Japan. They're forced into bloom early in greenhouses for the spring holiday. After World War II the West Coast from Vancouver to Long Beach, California took over being the center of Easter lily bulb production. Today a small group of growers are left on the Oregon/California border and that region is known as the Easter Lily Capital of the World.

When purchasing Easter lilies, look for ones with green leaves all the way to the bottom of the plant and 5 or more flower buds. Once home, remove the cellophane wrapper, water when dry and place it in a cool room with bright light. In spring, plant it outdoors and it will bloom next year in summer.

For something different, consider gifting other plants this holiday. Asiatic lilies have brightly colored flowers and are great garden plants. They just don't have the same heady fragrance as Easter lilies. Calla lilies are often found in garden centers this time of year. Many have attractive speckled leaves. Their colorful flowers are actually bracts, similar to poinsettias, that last a long time so this plant will be beautiful indoors for weeks. Plant this annual flower outdoors in early summer in a part-sun location and it should keep flowering until fall.

Charlie Nardozzi is a regional Emmy® Award winning garden writer, speaker, radio, and television personality. He has worked for more than 30 years bringing expert information to home gardeners.