With both white and pink Lily of the Valley available. Shirely and Jane Tonkin have been growing Lily of the Valley for many years and share some ideas on the history, cultivation and growing of these special bulbs.
How to Grow Lily of the Valley
The Nostalgic and Humble Lily of the Valley
Convallaria, (commonly known as Lily of the Valley) is from the Latin name convallis meaning valley. It can be found in semi-shades forested areas from France to Siberia and in the cooler parts of North America.
Interestingly legend has it that Lily of Valley came about from Eve’s tears shed when she and Adam were banished from Eden.
A plant that blooms from a set of elliptical shaped bright green leaves on stems to 15cm. These stems hold a raceme of pure white nodding bells, with a well renowned fragrance. These delightful flowers are much sort-after by brides worldwide, most recently the Duchess of Cambridge carried them among others in her bouquet.
Lily of the Valley Care
Lily of the Valley prefer a situation that is not too dry which is enriched with blood and bone, old cow manure or a good compost.
If your soil is acidic they also benefit from the addition of some lime. They flourish in cooler climate needing a frosty winter to bloom freely.
Plant root stock by laying them flat on prepared ground and cover with only 2cm of soil and 7cm apart to naturalize.
These are a plant that benefit from water once a week during active growth, and prefer not to be completely dried out in summer. Remove all old foliage and winter mulch with old cow manure or Dynamic Lifter, Lime and a good compost.
Lily of the Valley is a wonderful addition to a cool climate garden and once naturalized can make a fantastic ground cover.
Picking as a cut flower
Blooms picked when the first two bells are open will last up to a week in a vase all the while providing a ‘natural air-freshener’!
Shirley and Jane have a Lily of the Valley plants for sale.
Visit them online at www.tonkinsbulbs.com.au
How to Plant Lily of the Valley Pips.
You will usually buy Lily of the Valley Varieties as Pips in autumn to early winter. For variety and fresh plants, look online.
When planting follow these steps for the garden.
- Dig the soil over well and add some well rotted cow manure, vermicaste if you have it and compost.
- The ‘pips’ are planted at around 2 cm deep. Plant at 6 – 10 cm apart to naturalise into an area.
- Cover and water in with a liquid seaweed fertiliser.
- When you see new signs of growth water each week unless it rains.
- Do not allow the plants to dry out completely over summer.
- After the foliage dies back, remove it and top dress with good compost, blood and bone and a little lime.
- We use some Seamungus pellets and a little Dynamic lifter every 2nd or third year.
For Container growing use this method
- Choose a deep pot and use a high quality potting mix.
- Make sure the pot has adequate drainage holes.
- Add 20% well rotted compost and 10% cow manure.
- The ‘Pips’ or rhizomes need to be planted at around 2 cm deep.
- Planting distance should be at around 7cm apart. You can plant them closer however you will need to divide them more often.
- Water in with a liquid seaweed fertiliser.
- Keep moist from winter and flowering period through to summer when the foliage dies back.
- Place the pot in a cool shaded position over summer to prevent the soil from drying out.
Once the foliage dies back in late summer to autumn prune back the old stems. Top dress in winter with some aged cow manure and compost and a little blood and bone. A light application of a pelletised fertiliser such as Seamungus or Dynamic Lifter, will be beneficial, however not to much of the nitrogen based fertiliser.
Usually by division, and this is carried out once the plants have died right back and the weather has cooled.
- You can also propagate from seed. Collect the seed as the small berries ripen. They will turn red.
- If you plant the seed immediately you will get good germination.
- Some gardeners recommend soaking the seeds over night, this may improve germination however is not usually required.
- Seeds are planted in pots at around 5mm deep and kept moist.
- Cover the seeds with an additional thin layer leaf mold. From seed to flowering can take 5 years.