Lily of the valley indoor

When I’m talking about getting plants to flower indoors, I prefer the word “coax” over “force.” It sounds kinder, doesn’t it? Well, coaxing Lily of the Valley to bloom indoors is a very good thing to do in May when you’re greedy for all the springtime you can get.

Photographs by Erin Boyle.

Above: I bought a pot of already-started pips a little more than a week ago and settled them into their new urban home. Today? There are blooms.

Above: If you live by a nursery that has Lily of the Valley already started in pots, your work is practically finished. To avoid disturbing the roots, I decided against repotting the pips in favor of disguising the pot I used garden scissors to trim off the top inch of my pot. If you’re looking for a new, sharp pair, see 10 Easy Pieces: Floral Scissors.

Above: I lined an old wooden box with a bit of parchment for protection and slipped my plastic pot on top of that.

Above: After the pot was nestled into a corner, I used moss that I picked up at a local florist shop to cover the edges of the pot. You can also use preserved moss; Green Dried Preserved Moss is $2.99 from Jamali Garden.

Above: I broke my moss into smaller bits so that it fit neatly around my pot, but didn’t cover any of the emerging pips.

Above: The wooden box fit squarely enough on our windowsill, which gets filtered light for most of the day. I made sure to give the pips a good drenching mist every morning and night. For similar results, you could use a Brass Plant Mister ($20 from Terrain).

Above: Ten days later, there were flowers.

Above: If you’re hoping to get your hands a little bit more dirty, you can also plant Lily of the Valley pips directly yourself, though in my experience whether they’ll flower is a bit more of a gamble.

Above: A bag of pips I picked up at a local nursery came with soil which I moistened before planting. A kit of 12 Lily of the Valley Pips Plus Potting Soil is $45 from White Flower Farm.

Above: I gave a small trim to too-long roots and then potted them in an assortment of small glass jars.

Above: I left just a small bit of the pips exposed and placed them on my windowsill alongside my other plants.

Above: The pips that I started myself grew quickly, but they’re not showing any signs of flowering. I’m not sure if it’s because I didn’t use pips that have been specially prepared for growth indoors, but happily, I’ve gotten my landlord to agree to let me transplant the experiment outdoors. Here’s hoping that they might flower some other spring.

For more about Lily of the Valley, your grandmother’s favorite plant, see Would Spring Still Smell Like Spring Without Lily of the Valley?

How to grow indoor lilies-of-the-valley

Touching and elegant, with a maddeningly unique fragrance, lilies-of-the-valley are the perfect option for those looking for plants that grow literally on their own.

In indoor settings, only one species of lily-of-the-valley is grown: Convallaria majalis. Forest plants aren’t suitable for a potted existence. Instead, you can buy lily-of-the-valley, which is already accustomed to growing in a limited volume of soil. Selecting strong and quality specimens will ensure a lovely presence in your garden.

Although the convallaria majalis is limited in its color options, the luminous white of the hanging bell-shaped flowers calls to mind a string of lovely peals.

Conditions for growing indoor lilies-of-the-valley

For lily-of-the-valley, it is difficult to single out a classical, strict gardening regime. Lilies-of-the-valley as indoor plants are grown only during one season. After they bloom, they can be transferred to the soil of the garden and given two to three years for restoration, or simply discarded and replaced each season with new plants.

Lilies-of-the-valley, when buds are quickening and flowering begins, love the coolness. They are amenable to normal room temperatures, but the lower the temperature, the longer the flowering will last. The optimum temperature range is between 16 to 21 degrees.

Indoor lilies-of-the-valley like fresh air, but they must be carefully guarded against drafts in ventilated rooms.

Planting in a pot

Purchasing potted lilies-of-the-valley is often considered the easiest option. But growing them yourself can also be fun and rewarding. Simply purchase garden plants, along with planting materials, or dig them yourself. In either case, the selection of lily-of-the-valley planting material should be carried out in the autumn, or in the garden, after the first primroses.

Should you opt for garden plants transferred to pots, carefully dig the plants out, divided and sorted, then separate the floral central buds from the vegetative lateral ones. For distillation in atypical situations, use only strong, large buds which are well developed, thick, and directed upwards. Small or unexpressed flower buds should be cultivated only in open soil.

For lilies-of-the-valley, it is important to orient the plants vertically. The plants should be moistened periodically before planting, so as not to dry out the roots.

The best time to plant lilies-of-the-valley in pots depends on when you want them to achieve their flowering. To ensure blossoming lilies-of-the-

valley for the Christmas holidays, they should be planted from November or December. To obtain flowering lilies-of-the-valley at the optimal time, it is worth considering that on average the process of forcing takes from 25 to 40 days.

Lilies-of-the-valley are never grown individually. Plants are placed in containers in dense groups or bundles. For this, it is best to collect between 5 and 35 plants in one group, depending on the size different indoor pot.

Planting lilies-of-the-valley is not difficult. At the bottom of the tanks there must be some kind of drainage, and the plants themselves should be installed on the pillow of the soil. Lilies-of-the-valley should be placed tightly together, but not in contact with one another. An interval of 1-3 cm between plants is recommended. After planting, abundant watering should be carried out with warm water.

Before planting, the roots of the lily-of-the-valley should be shortened by a third or 2-5 cm, leaving strong, short roots of about 10-12 cm length.

For indoor lilies-of-the-valley, containers of any size will work, as long as they aren’t too deep. A container with a diameter of 10 cm can accommodate up to six lilies-of-the-valley, while bowls or boxes can accommodate several dozen plants. Indoor lilies-of-the-valley can be grown only in nutritious, friable, high-quality and moisture-absorbing soil. For these plants, a special primer for bulbous plants is considered ideal.

Lighting and placement

In the growing of lilies-of-the-valley, there are two distinct lighting conditions: normal illumination and dark.

The storage of planting material, freezing before planting, and the application of heat to stimulate growth should all take place in the shade. Lilies-of-the-valley can be fitted with special caps covering them from the light, they can be protected with shading screens, or they can simply be placed in a dark room or in a secluded spot in a normal room with suitable conditions.

Upon the appearance of buds (flower arrows), lilies-of-the-valley should be moved to a diffuse, soft but bright light. If the plants are being grown for the winter holidays, it is better to use additional light (up to 6 hours a day in the morning and in the evening), which brings the total exposure to twelve hours. Lilies-of-the-valley do not require strong lighting.

Watering

Lilies-of-the-valley only require irrigation during forcing and flowering. Once the plants have been placed in the appropriate soil, infrequent but neat irrigation should be carried out, supporting the lightest moisture of the substrate. After the plant’s temperature achieves ordinary room conditions, the plants should be watered such that only the top layer of the substrate dries out. The lily-of-the-valley cannot tolerate a complete drying up of the soil at the stage of active vegetation. During the freezing before planting, irrigation is completely excluded from the nursing program.

Spraying for lilies-of-the-valley is very important at the storage stage before planting and during the most forcing. If you dug up the rhizomes yourself or purchased them for distillation, then during the entire storage phase in cool conditions, the lilies should be periodically sprayed, with the exception of adrenaline.

After planting, the plants should be sprayed several times a day, maintaining high humidity while being kept in the heat.

How to Grow Lily of the Valley Indoors

The Lily of the Valley is a beautiful flower that is easy to grow indoors. They prefer cooler temperatures, so growing indoors during the hot summer months is a great idea. The Lily of the Valley requires high quantities of water and growing indoors enable you to monitor their water intake closely. They also add a splash of color to your home, even in the chilly winter months.

Step 1: Caring For Bulbs

It is best to purchase the bulbs that you will be planting in early spring. These bulbs should be pre-forced from the previous winter. Be sure to plant these types of bulbs right away as they have a short growing season. It is often easier to grow new bulbs each year rather than trying to grow from the previous season’s bulbs.

Step 2: Planting

Be sure your planting container has plenty of holes for drainage. Lily of the valley flowers need damp soil, but it is unhealthy for them to sit in standing water. Use two inches of pebbles in the bottom of the container then fill the rest with the peat moss, loam, and sand mixture. Plant the bulb in this mxture with the tip level with the soil.

Step 3: Watering

Be sure to use plenty of water during the growing season. The soil should be damp but not flooded. Begin decreasing water when new growth starts coming out of the soil. At this point, just make sure that the soil is consistently damp. This is especially important during the blooming season.

Step 4: Provide Sunlight

Be sure to allow for plenty of sunlight, so place the plant near the window in your home that receives the most sunlight every day. Be sure to monitor the temperature near this window as the lily of the valley prefers temperatures around 68 degrees with ample ventilation.

Step 5: Feeding

Be sure to provide high quantities of water soluble vegetable fertilizer until the end of the blooming season. Having these plants indoors will allow you to monitor them closely. Feed the plant with the fertilizer once per week through the blooming season. Once the blooming season is over you can move the lily of the valley flower to a window which provides more shade and prepare it for the next season. Store in a cold frame until the next season to promote continual growth.

How To Grow a Lily of the Valley

David Q. Cavagnaro/Getty

Everyone has a favorite flower. While roses, hydrangeas, and peonies get a lot of attention (they are gorgeous, afterall), one of the South’s most beautiful flowering plants is the Lily of the Valley. And one of my first memories of it stems from a child’s perfume bottle I bought at Jackson’s 5&10 in Winona, MS when I was 8-years-old. I’ve loved this fragrance and flower ever since. Here’s some need-to-know growing and caring advice.

How to spot this beauty: This graceful, creeping ground cover blooms in spring and grows about six to eight inches high. The arching stems bear small, nodding, delightfully sweet-scented, waxy white bell-shaped flowers. The flowers last only two to three weeks, but its broad, glossy green deciduous leaves are attractive throughout growing season. Bright red berries may appear in autumn; they, like the rest of the plant, are poisonous.

Selections include ‘Aureo-variegata,’ with yellow-striped leaves; ‘Fortin’s Giant,’ to 12-15 in. high with extra-large blooms; ‘Prolificans,’ a double-flowered form; and C. m. rosea, with light pink blooms. All are charming in woodland gardens; use as carpet between camellias, rhododendrons, pieris, or under deciduous trees or high-branching, not-too-dense evergreens.

Where to grow: Best in Upper and Middle South. In Lower South, needs full shade and moist, rich soil that does not dry out. Can become invasive where well adapted.

How to care for Lily of the Valley: Plant clumps or single rhizomes (commonly called pips) in fall before the soil freezes. Give rich soil with ample humus. Set 1 ½ in. deep; space clump 1-2 ft. apart. Spread 1-in. layer of leaf mold, peat moss, or ground bark over bed each year in fall.

Large, pre-chilled pips are available in December and January and can be potted for bloom indoors in bright light. After bloom, plunge pots in ground in cool, shaded area. When dormant, remove plants from pots and plant in garden; or wash soil off pips, place in clearly labeled plastic bags, and store in vegetable bin of refrigerator until time to repot in December or January.

Lily of the Valley is known as a delicate woodland flower, but there’s no reason it can’t be grown indoors. I’ve created a tiny woodland scene on my Brooklyn windowsill. If there were a prize for the best-smelling apartment in Brooklyn, I’m pretty sure mine would win:

Photography by Erin Boyle.

Above: I bought a pot of already-started pips a little more than a week ago and settled them into their new urban home. Today? There are blooms.

Above: If you live by a nursery that has Lily of the Valley already started in pots, your work is practically finished. To avoid disturbing the roots, I decided against repotting the pips in favor of disguising the pot I used garden scissors to trim off the top inch of my pot. If you’re looking for a new, sharp pair, see 10 Easy Pieces: Floral Scissors.

Above: I lined an old wooden box with a bit of parchment for protection and slipped my plastic pot on top of that.

Above: After the pot was nestled into a corner, I used moss that I picked up at a local florist shop to cover the edges of the pot. You can also use preserved moss; Green Dried Preserved Moss is $2.99 from Jamali Garden.

Above: I broke my moss into smaller bits so that it fit neatly around my pot, but didn’t cover any of the emerging pips.

Above: The wooden box fit squarely enough on our windowsill, which gets filtered light for most of the day. I made sure to give the pips a good drenching mist every morning and night. For similar results, you could use a Nickel Plant Mister ($24 from Terrain).

Above: Ten days later, there were flowers.

Above: If want to get your hands a little more dirty, you also can plant Lily of the Valley pips directly yourself, though in my experience it’s a gamble; they may not flower as reliably.

Above: A bag of pips I picked up at a local nursery came with soil which I moistened before planting. A kit of 12 Lily of the Valley Pips Plus Potting Soil is $29 from White Flower Farm.

Above: I gave a small trim to too-long roots and then potted them in an assortment of small glass jars.

Above: I left just a small bit of the pips exposed and placed them on my windowsill alongside my other plants.

Above: The pips that I started myself grew quickly, but they’re not showing any signs of flowering. I’m not sure if it’s because I didn’t use pips that have been specially prepared for growth indoors, but happily, I’ve gotten my landlord to agree to let me transplant the experiment outdoors. Here’s hoping that they might flower some other spring.

For more about Lily of the Valley, your grandmother’s favorite plant, see Would Spring Still Smell Like Spring Without Lily of the Valley?

Finally, get more ideas on how to successfully plant, grow, and care for lily of the valley with our Lily of the Valley: A Field Guide.

Interested in other bulbs and tubers for your garden or indoor space? Get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various bulbs and tubers with our Bulbs & Tubers: A Field Guide.

Finally, get more ideas on how to plant, grow, and care for various perennial plants with our Perennials: A Field Guide.

N.B.: This is an update of a post published May 8, 2013.

How to Grow Lily of the Valley Flowers

Botanical Name: Convallaria majalis

Fragrant lily of the valley flowers are a delight when they bloom in spring. But why wait? These types of lilies are easy to bring into bloom indoors in the middle of winter.

Sweetly scented clusters of nodding bells are nestled between pairs of broad, pointy tipped leaves. Once the flowers fade, they’re followed up by a show of red berries.

Don’t let this lily’s delicate appearance fool you. This hardy plant is a vigorous grower. It spreads quickly from rhizomes and will need to be potted up or divided each year.

You’ll find lily of the valley plants for sale in nurseries and online florists’ delivery sites already potted or shipped bareroot, ready for planting.

Lily of the Valley Varieties

Several good varieties are available. Convallaria majalis ‘Fortin’s Giant’ has large white blooms and is good for forcing.

‘Prolificans’ and ‘Flore Pleno’ are stunning with double flowers and ‘Rosea’ has charming pale-pink flowers. ‘Variegata’ and ‘Green Tapestry’ are varieties with creamy white-striped leaves.

The “secret” to keeping lily of the valley flowers fresh for several weeks is to keep the plant fairly cool.

Did you know…Lilies of the valley are classified in the lily (Lilaceae) family, but were once in a class all their own — Convallariaceae.

These pristine, white bell-shaped blooms are often given as gifts and symbolize purity and happiness. Lily of the valley flowers are popular in wedding bouquets, and also used to celebrate May Day in Europe.

Is lily of the valley poisonous? Yes. All parts of lily of the valley are highly poisonous to people, cats and dogs.

How to Get Lily of the Valley Flowers to Bloom Again

Beautiful lily of the valley flowers will bloom for about 4 weeks, then can be brought back into bloom the next year. Here are the steps:

  1. When flowers die, keep soil lightly moist and give your lily indirect sunlight until it goes dormant, typically in late summer or fall.
  2. Wait till the foliage turns yellow and withered, then cut it back. Don’t pull the leaves off with your hands. Use sharp scissors or pruners to avoid damaging the rhizome. Put the dormant plant in a cool, dark spot giving it just enough water to prevent the rhizomes from drying out completely.
  3. Dormant rhizomes can be restarted in winter or spring. This is a good time to divide them. Pot 5-6 rhizomes together for an attractive planting, using fresh soil. Place rhizomes horizontally, root-side down and top with just enough soil to cover the rhizome. Put the pot back in a warm (about 65°-70°F/18°-21°C), bright spot (out of direct sun) and keep the soil lightly moist. Blooms should appear in 6-8 weeks.

Lily of the Valley Care

Origin: European and Asian woodlands

Height: Up to 10 in (25 cm)

Light: Low to bright light.

Water: Keep soil evenly moist, not soggy. Established plants will tolerate drier soil.

Humidity: Average room (around 40% relative humidity). Indoor air can become extremely dry; take a look at these easy ways to raise the humidity for your houseplants.

Temperature: Cool to average temperatures 60-70°F/16-21°C. Lilies of the valley are cold-hardy to USDA Zone 2, if you want to plant them outdoors. Their natural bloom time is in late spring.

Soil: Peat moss based potting mix with added perlite and/or vermiculite for faster drainage. African violet potting mix is ideal.

Fertilizer: Feed monthly with a balanced water-soluble fertilizer diluted by half while plant is growing. Do not feed while dormant.

Propagation: These lilies grow from creeping rhizomes that spread quickly under the soil. Divide lily of the valley plants when they become crowded. Cut the rhizomes apart, leaving some roots attached to each piece. Lilies grown indoors will not set seed, but you can grow them from purchased seeds.

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