Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) is a hardy, spring-blooming perennial. Popular for its beauty and ease of care, the lily of the valley can grow in both sunny and shady conditions. The delicate flowers of the plant, which can be pink or white, have a pleasing fragrance. Lily of the valley spreads rapidly and can take over areas of the landscape, which makes this aggressive plant somewhat difficult to control.
Growing in Containers
Choose a container that has drainage holes in the bottom, as well as a catch tray to collect draining water. Fill the container with any potting soil. Lily of the valley is a hardy plant that will grow in just about any soil conditions.
Soak the pips, or roots, of your lily of the valley in lukewarm water for two hours before planting them. This will activate the roots and cause them to sprout more quickly and easily. If your flowers came in bags, simply fill the bags with the lukewarm water. Otherwise, submerge them in the sink or in a bucket.
Clip off the last inch of the roots before planting them. This will make it easier for the roots to absorb the moisture in the soil.
Plant the lily of the valley in the potting soil at a depth so that the tip of the pip protrudes slightly above the surface of the soil. Water thoroughly, emptying the catch tray immediately after the soil stops draining. These plants can get root rot if left in standing water.
Place the container in a location where it will receive partial shade. Morning sun and afternoon shade is ideal. Keep the soil moist, but not waterlogged, throughout the growing season.
Growing in the Ground
Choose a location that is partially shaded. Too much hot sunlight can scorch the lily of the valley’s graceful leaves. Morning sunlight with some afternoon shade, or dappled shade, is perfect for the flower.
Test the soil to see if it drains well. While the lily of the valley likes moist soil, it does not like very soggy soil. These flowers need well-draining soil, or their roots will quickly rot. If there are puddles on the soil five hours after a good rain, the soil is not well-draining.
Soak the tuberous roots (called pips) in lukewarm water for a couple of hours before you plant them. This will “wake up” the roots so that they are ready to bloom sooner. Soak them in a bucket or fill the bag they arrived in with water.
Snip off the bottom inch of the roots of your lily of the valley, and then place it in the soil so that the tip of the plant is slightly above the ground’s surface.
Water the soil thoroughly after planting the flowers. The lily of the valley is so hardy that there is no need to add fertilizer or mulch. These plants can tolerate some dry soil when planted outdoors, but water during long periods of hot drought.
Things You Will Need
- Gardening gloves
- Lukewarm water
- Bucket (optional)
- The flowers make delicate and fragrant cut flower bouquets, and cutting them will not hurt the plant.
- Avoid cutting the foliage when the lily of the valley has finishing flowering for the season. The nutrients in the slowly decaying foliage will return to the roots, where they will be stored for next spring's blooming. Once the leaves have become fully yellowed, you can remove them.
- Plant your lily of the valley as soon as you can after receiving it. The pips (tuberous-like roots) can dry out if they are not planted within 10 days.
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