Millions of Easter lilies are harvested each fall in the U.S., then shipped to greenhouses where they are prepared to bloom in time for the Easter season. In 2005, the Easter lily industry had a wholesale value of $35 million, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The Easter lily, Lilium longiflorum, is a native of the southern islands of Japan. It was first introduced to the U.S. when an Oregon soldier named Louis Houghton returned home from World War I with some of the bulbs and shared them with fellow gardeners.
When the bulbs became unavailable from Asian sources after the onset of World War II, American lily nursery production began in earnest. By 1945, there were 1,200 American lily farms in business.
Today, almost all the bulbs which supply the potted lily market are grown by ten farms in a coastal region of the California-Oregon border.
The most widely grown Easter lily cultivar today is the large, white-flowered "Nellie White," named in honor of the wife of lily grower James White, according to Texas A&M University.
Protect your Easter lily from chill winds when taking it home. Keep it in indirect sunlight and away from drafts and excessive heat. Water only when the soil feels dry.
- U.S. Department of Agriculture: A Brief History of Easter Lilies and the Role of the Beltsville Agricultural Research Center
- Texas A&M University: Aggie Horticulture - Easter Lily
Easter lily origin, Easter lily production, Easter lily care
About this Author
Gwen Bruno has been a full-time freelance writer since 2009, with her gardening-related articles appearing on DavesGarden. She is a former teacher and librarian, and she holds a bachelor's degree in education from Augustana College and master's degrees in education and library science from North Park University and the University of Wisconsin.