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Blooming Plants
   Blooming Plant of the Month

Convallaria majalis
(kon-va-LAH-ree-a mah-JA-lis)


Lilies-of-the-valley have nodding, bell-shaped flowers in loose spikes that bloom in one-sided clusters. The stems are usually 4 to 8 inches long with six to eight clusters of flowers surrounded by beautiful green, bladelike foliage. The flowers come in single and double forms. The plants have a sweet, mild fragrance that makes them a favorite for perfumes. They are grown from small rhizomes, often referred to as “pips.”

White and pale pink varieties of the plants are available.

Lilies-of-the-valley will bloom for five to seven days.

Lilies-of-the-valley are available mainly in the spring, but they can be obtained year-round if orders are placed with enough advance notice.

ETHYLENE SENSITIVITY Some cultivars show ethylene sensitivity. Check with your suppliers to make sure your plants have been treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the grower level.

LIGHT Keep light levels high. Diffused light is best if the plants are kept indoors. Filtered sunlight is ideal for outdoor plants.

WATER Keep soil evenly moist by checking the plants daily. Severe drying will cause the leaves to yellow and wilt. If the plants dry out, flower development may be delayed.

TEMPERATURE Lilies-of-the-valley do best outdoors. They may exhibit yellowing leaves under interior conditions. Keep them in cool locations at 60 F to 65 F. Flowers tend to wilt quickly if they are exposed to heat or poor air circulation.

STORAGE These plants can be held in floral coolers at 36 F to 38 F to extend shelf life.

SOIL The plants prefer well-drained, rich, sandy loam.

HUMIDITY Keep humidity levels moderate for best results.

FERTILIZER Use a bloom fertilizer until the blossoms are developed and opened. Discard the pots when blossoming is finished, or try planting the pips outdoors.

TOXICITY All parts of lilies-of-the-valley are toxic. If ingested, headache, nausea, slow pulse and excessive urination may occur. Advise customers to keep small children and pets away from these plants.

BLOOMS Check the blossoms for any sign of breakage, wilt or browning.

PESTS Aphids are the biggest problems. In most cases, they can be washed away with a gentle spray of water.

MEANING The Latin word “convallis” means “valley,” referring to where lilies-of-the-valley are found. “Majalis” means “May-flowering.”

FAMILY Lilies-of-the-valley are members of the Liliaceae (lily) family. There are more than 3,000 plants in this family, including many medicinal and food species in addition to ornamental species. Close relatives include lilies, tulips and Asparagus.

ORIGINS Lily-of-the-valley is a native of Europe, North America and Northern Asia. In England, it appears as a wildflower.

Some information provided by:
• The Chain of Life Network®,

Images courtesy of The John Henry Company

Reach “Fresh Flower of the Month” writer Steven W. Brown, AIFD, at  or (415) 239-3140.

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