Lauterbach: Plant your Easter lily and watch it bloom every summer

Special to the Idaho StatesmanJune 21, 2013 

Caldwell resident Wayne Englehorn, who stands 6 foot 2 inches, and his Easter lilies that he said stands 8 feet tall.

JOE JASZEWSKI — jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com Buy Photo

Did you put your Easter lily outdoors this spring? If not, I'll bet you will next year.

Wayne Englehorn, a Caldwell resident, planted a regular Easter lily outdoors in 2010. It was normal sized, about 12 inches tall. The usual time for those lilies to bloom is about July, but nurseries juggle their growing temperatures to force them to bloom just before Easter.

The following year, instead of the one stalk of the Easter lily, two stalks rose, and grew to seven and a half feet, putting out 15 blossoms between the two stalks. Blossoms were normal size and white as Easter lilies are. Then in 2012, three shoots pushed up, growing to eight and a half feet, setting 21 blossoms.

This year the bulbs (they must have divided by now) have put up four shoots, are up over seven and a half feet, and are continuing to grow an inch per day, Englehorn said. These shoots have 30 buds among them.

Some time ago he set a pipe in the ground to support these huge plants.

They are obviously in a happy place, full sun until 2 p.m., then shade.

The usual Easter lily is Lilium longiflorum, usually growing one foot tall. One cultivar may grow to three feet, but there are other white-blooming species that grow taller, including L. candidum (the Madonna lily) that may grow to five feet. None are identified in my bulb references as growing to seven or eight feet.

He doesn't recall where he bought the lily, and when asked, said he doesn't think he planted it where an outhouse once stood. That's probably right. Lilies and iris all die if fertilized with manure. He did not fertilize the bulbs with anything, but he obviously did keep them properly watered.

BABY SPARROWS PREFER THEIR VEGGIES

I unintentionally set up the ideal feeding station for baby sparrows in my garden this year. I saw the females feeding babies, and thought they were feeding them aphids stripped from my pea vines. Nope.

They fed their babies the tender new leaves and tendrils of my pea vines, while perched atop the pea support, the babies gripping the top rung of neighboring three-ring cages protecting chile plants from dog bumps. The pea vine tops are shredded, but I have enough pods lower on the vines for my purposes. There's plenty for all.

Now we know why the little birds were having such a grand time in my garden this year.

HORSERADISH CAN RUN AWAY ON YOU

A friend recently expressed a desire to grow horseradish. Seriously?

Once you start it, it's very difficult to get rid of. First, select a site where you truly want it, because if you decide you want it to grow it somewhere else and dig a plant to move, you'll have two horseradish beds. Your best bet to grow it is to buy a root, and plant that at a 45 degree angle in deeply dug rich soil, the top bud two inches below soil line. It will straighten and grow down.

Water it once a week, and to preserve soil moisture, mulch. The best time to dig it is after frost has killed the foliage. Trim off side shoots, scrub the main root and dry it well. You may keep it in the refrigerator hydrator for a few months or you may grate it right away.

It's best grated outdoors, or will clear your sinuses. Do not bend over to look closely into the blender or food processor because the fumes can damage your eyes.

Any bit of the root left in the soil will produce another horseradish plant. Watch out for it bolting, too. Seeds will take root anywhere in your yard.

Send gardening questions to melauter@earthlink.net or Gardening, The Statesman, P.O. Box 40, Boise, ID 83707.

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