Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Easter In 90 Days
We try to start each new year with a gardening activity. Forcing Easter Lily bulbs worked great for us last year so restarting that activity today seemed to satisfy several needs. A quick look at a calender revealed that Easter falls on the last day of March this year. Professional lily growers likely knew that and are following a schedule that will fill the big box stores and supermarkets with these treasures in time for Easter. We follow a more relaxed pace here so our flowers may be late for the holiday but early for outdoor gardening. In an attempt to learn, the pull from the ground date is recorded here. We will count the days to first flower and try to get it right next year.
L. longiflorun is native to southern Japan with a hardiness zone of 7. Low temperatures there range from 0 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit but frozen ground may not be an annual event. This morning found our ground near the house foundation still soft and unfrozen. Bulbs do need a cold period before warmth triggers growth. We do not know if our unusually warm fall has provided an adequate chill for the bulbs pulled today. Three more pots remain in the ground. They will be pulled later following an as yet undefined schedule. The pros have kept their planting stock under mechanical refrigeration and know the exact amount of chill needed to insure growth.
Our attempts to grow these tender lilies in the garden have revealed certain growth changes in response to our zone 4 cold. Most obvious is the squat appearance of plants left outside. Full sized single flowers atop six inches of stem look comical. Warmer temperatures seem necessary for full sized leaves and stems. Our cold seems to encourage the formation of many new small bulbs. We cannot begin to manage the huge number of usable bulbs produced each year.
The pot pulled today was placed on the basement floor near an outside wall. If growth appears, the lily will be moved to the relative warmth of our bedroom and placed near a south facing window. Our 2013 garden is underway and we will work toward flowering plants and try to learn the cause of less than complete success.