Lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), commonly known as lily bells, is a perennial flower that is native to Europe but is now grown worldwide. The dainty white flowers and their sweet fragrance make them a favorite in many gardens. Growing lily of the valley can be a rewarding experience, as they are relatively low-maintenance and can be grown in a variety of settings. In this blog post, we will discuss how to grow lily bells flowers, from planting to care, and everything in between.
Choosing The Right Location
Lily of the valley prefers partial to full shade, making it ideal for planting under trees or in a shaded border. They can also tolerate full sun in cooler climates but will require more frequent watering. The soil should be rich, well-drained, and moist, with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. If your soil is too heavy, you can amend it with compost, peat moss, or sand to improve drainage.
Planting Lily of the Valley
Lily of the valley can be planted in either the spring or fall. To plant, dig a hole that is twice the width of the root ball and deep enough to accommodate the entire root system. Place the plant in the hole, backfill with soil, and tamp it down firmly. Space each plant 6-8 inches apart to allow for spreading. Water the newly planted lily of the valley thoroughly to help settle the soil.
Watering and Fertilizing
Lily of the valley requires consistent moisture, but not waterlogging. Water regularly to keep the soil evenly moist, especially during the summer months. Mulching around the plants will help retain moisture and keep the soil cool. Lily of the valley does not require heavy fertilization, but an application of a balanced, slow-release fertilizer in the spring will help promote healthy growth.
Lily of the valley does not require much pruning, but you may want to remove any damaged or yellowing leaves as needed. After the flowers have finished blooming, you can cut back the flower stalks to the ground to keep the plant looking tidy.
Controlling Pests and Diseases
Lily of the valley is relatively pest and disease-resistant, but can sometimes be affected by fungal diseases such as leaf spot or rust. To prevent these diseases, avoid overhead watering, and make sure there is adequate air circulation around the plants. If necessary, you can treat it with a fungicide according to the label directions.
Lily of the valley can be propagated by dividing the rhizomes in the fall or early spring. Carefully dig up the entire clump and separate the individual plants, making sure each section has a healthy root system. Replant each division at the same depth as the original plant, and water thoroughly.
Lily of the valley is a hardy plant that can withstand cold temperatures, but you may want to mulch around the plants in the fall to help protect the roots from freezing. In colder climates, you can also cut back the foliage in the fall after it has turned yellow to help prevent disease.
Lily of the valley can be paired with other shade-loving plants such as hostas, ferns, and astilbes. Planting these together will create a beautiful, cohesive look in your garden.
Lily of the valley can be cut for use in floral arrangements, but the stems are fragile and the flowers have a short vase life. To help extend their lifespan, cut the stems at an angle and place them in water immediately after cutting.
Lily of the valley is highly toxic if ingested, so it is important to keep children and pets away from the plants. Wear gloves when handling the plant, as the sap can cause skin irritation.
There are several cultivars of lily of the valley available, including ‘Albostriata’ with white-edged leaves, and ‘Rosea’ with pink-tinted flowers. Research different cultivars to find the best fit for your garden.
Special Considerations for Container Gardening
If you are planting lily of the valley in a container, make sure the pot has drainage holes and use a high-quality potting mix. Water the plant regularly and fertilize lightly every two to three weeks during the growing season.
Dealing with Invasive Tendencies
Lily of the valley can be aggressive and spread quickly, especially in ideal growing conditions. To prevent it from becoming invasive, you can plant it in a contained area, or use a barrier such as a garden edging or plastic liner to prevent its spread.
Harvesting and Drying Leaves for Medicinal Use
Lily of the valley leaves can be harvested and dried for use in traditional medicine, but it is important to note that the plant is highly toxic if ingested. Consult with a qualified herbalist or health care provider before using lily of the valley leaves for any medicinal purpose.
Growing Lily of the valley flowers can be a wonderful plus to any garden, with its sweet fragrance and delicate beauty. By following these tips for location, watering and fertilizing, pruning, pest and disease control, propagation, and winter care, you can successfully grow lily bells in your garden. Also, if you are considering companion planting, cultivars, container gardening, and special considerations, you can customize your lily of the valley growing experience to fit your individual needs and preferences.
Here are some references used to create this blog post on how to grow lily of the valley flowers:
- Missouri Botanical Garden. (2021). Convallaria majalis. Retrieved from https://www.missouribotanicalgarden.org/PlantFinder/PlantFinderDetails.aspx?kempercode=c745
- The Old Farmer’s Almanac. (n.d.). Lily of the valley. Retrieved from https://www.almanac.com/plant/lily-valley
- University of Minnesota Extension. (n.d.). Lily of the valley. Retrieved from https://extension.umn.edu/planting-and-growing-guides/lily-valley
- Royal Horticultural Society. (n.d.). Lily of the valley. Retrieved from https://www.rhs.org.uk/plants/21668/convallaria-majalis/details
- Gardenia. (2021). How to grow and care for lily of the valley. Retrieved from https://www.gardenia.net/guide/how-to-grow-and-care-for-lily-of-the-valley
- Cornell University Department of Horticulture. (n.d.). Lily of the valley. Retrieved from https://hort.cals.cornell.edu/plants/lily-valley/
- Gardening Know How. (2021). Lily of the valley care: how to grow lily of the valley plants. Retrieved from https://www.gardening