A sign of hope, a symbol of purity, and a welcoming gift during Easter. Easter lilies (Lilium longiflorum) are genuinely stunning flowers. Blooming with large white trumpet-shaped flowers, the Easter Lily flower grows worldwide. From the cooler climates of jolly old England to the warmer and subtropical areas of Sydney and Brisbane.
However, they’re not the only flowers bestowed with the Easter moniker. The Belladonna lily (Amaryllis belladonna), with its pink firecracker-like petals and sweet-smelling lily-like blooms. Also known as the Easter Lily. Its other names include the naked lady and Jersey lily. Growing in warmer temperatures than the Lilium longiflorum, both flowers produce a dazzling display of colour. Making them a terrific choice for your next flower arrangement.
Whether celebrating Easter or introducing an intoxicating scent to your home, keep reading to learn everything you need to know about this stunning flower. Including some very important Easter Lily Care Instructions and the history of both Easter flowers.
A Brief History of the Easter Lily
Lilium longiflorum, the Easter Lily
Also known as the November Lily. Despite its association with the Christian celebration, the bulbous, perennial plant is native to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. Producing fragrant, waxy white trumpet-shaped flowers in the early summer months of the year. Best planted in groups of four or five. Each stem can carry as many as ten fragrant flower heads, blooming each and every year.
Grown in Bermuda, one lily species forced to flower over a longer period of time. An interesting tidbit of Easter Lily history. These Bermuda Lilies were exported to New York between the 1890s and early 1920s.
A virus discovered during this time by Scottish plant pathologist, Lawrence Ogilvie, which had increasingly damaged the commercially vital lily-bulb export trade. Previously thought to be the result of aphid damage, this discovery led to the distribution of disease-free plant materials and seeds by the USDA Agricultural Research Services (ARS) in 1903.
Prior to this modification, lily bulbs mainly came imported from Japan before the 1940s. Although this halted during World War II, following the attack on Pearl Harbour. As a result, present day the majority of all Easter lily bulbs used in North America are grown in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon.
Adored for their delightful scent and gorgeous aesthetic, white lilies are revered for their association with the resurrection of Jesus. Referenced in the Gospel of Luke 12:27, Christ asks his followers to “consider the lilies how they grow: they toil not, they spin not; and yet I say unto you, that Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these”.
Amaryllis belladonna, the Jersey Lily
The Amaryllis belladonna is a widely cultivated ornamental flower that is naturalised across the world. Native to Cape Province in South Africa. The pink Easter Lily is also located in Portugal, the United States, Mexico, and New Zealand. It is particularly suitable to grow in Australia. Unfortunately, the Belladonna lily is considered an environmental or sleeper weed, depending on where it grows.
Referred to as the Jersey Lily, its more common name is the Naked Lady Lily. Influenced by a shepherdess from Greek mythology, Amarysso, which means ‘to sparkle’, the word Belladonna means ‘beautiful lady’ in Italian, giving further credence to its name. Furthermore, the funnel-shaped flowers grow from a leafless or ‘naked’ stem.
Average Height: 50cm-1m
Foliage: long unbranched stem with glossy dark green lance-shaped leaves.
Growing Climate: cooler climatic areas and warmer climate areas.
Garden Position: direct sunlight or partial shade.
Soil Type: well-drained moist and humus-rich soil. It can grow well in coastal areas.
Watering: water regularly during the growing season. Reduce water when dormant.
Flowering: blooms around June with clusters of up to half a dozen trumpet-shaped flowers in shades of yellow.
When to plant? Winter
Average height: 60-75cm
Foliage: growing from the neck of the bulb at ground level, below the lily-like blooms are strappy, succulent green leaves.
Growing Climate: the Belladonna Lily grows best in warm temperate, and hot climates with dry summers and wet winters.
Garden Position: direct sunlight improves flowering.
Soil Type: well-drained.
Watering: water regularly when flowering. Keep dry during summer. Stop watering when leaves fall off.
Flowers: blooms in late summer/early autumn with up to a dozen funnel-shaped flowers in shades of pink and white.
When to plant? Summer and early autumn.
Are Easter Lilies Toxic to Pets?
Ever heard the phrase, “curiosity killed the cat”? Well, the humble lily can do the same. Despite how gorgeous they are to look at, lilies (Lilium and Hemerocallis species) are highly toxic and potentially fatal for cats, as ingestion can lead to acute kidney failure and sometimes death.
Other symptoms include drooling, vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of appetite, all of which can appear within two hours of ingestion. If you suspect your cat has been exposed to lilies, you should seek veterinary guidance immediately and get treatment within 18 hours.
Surprisingly, this toxicity is unique only to cats, meaning our other furry friends won’t mind being around an Easter lily.
On the other hand, Amaryllis belladonna is incredibly toxic due to the presence of several different alkaloids, such as lycorine, pancracine and amaryllidine. All parts of the plant are toxic and can cause vomiting and diarrhea in humans.
For more information, read our blog post about Poisonous Plants and Flowers Around The World and Australia, and be sure to check out our pet-friendly flower section for flowers that won’t harm your pets.
Easter Lily Alternatives
Beyond the Easter Lily are a few handsome alternatives that will look right at home amongst your Easter flower arrangements, including Tulips, Daisies, Azaleas, Daffodils and Hyacinth.
Flower Arrangements For Every Celebration
No matter the occasion or celebration, Flowers Across Melbourne is here to deliver market-fresh flowers to your door. With same-day flower shipping to most Melbourne suburbs whenever you place your online order before 2 pm, we’re the ideal destination for Easter flowers in Australia.
Enjoy a stunning selection of floral arrangements and vibrant bouquets, including our endless array of lilies. Handcrafted to order by our expert florists, brighten your Easter celebrations with a stunning flower arrangement from Flowers Across Melbourne.