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Guide to Growing Lily Of The Valley, May Lily

Convallaria is a hardy perennial that reaches about 20 cm in height.

Lily of the valley. The lily of the valley flowers are small, white or pink and bell-like; they bloom at the end of spring.

They make good plants to provide ground coverage in shady areas of the garden.

Lily of the valley

Convallaria majalis
Convallaria majalis (Lily of the Valley) picture by Joost J. Bakker.

Convallaria
Convallaria by Anne the librarian.

Quick Convallaria Growing and Care Guide

Common Names: Lily Of The Valley, Our Lady’s Tears, Mary’s Tears, May Lily, Muguet.
Life Cycle: Hardy perennial.
Height: 6 to 8 inches (15 to 30 cm).
Native: Europe, Asia.
Growing Region: Zones 2 to 9.
Flowers: Late spring through to early summer
Flower Details: White, rose. Tiny. Bell-shaped, Bowl shaped. Fragrant. Sometimes double flowers.
Foliage: Herbaceous. Lance-shaped. Green. Variegated. Striped.
Sow/plant:
Rhizome: 2 to 3 inches (5 to 8 cm). End of winter or early in the spring. Spacing 4 to 6 inches (10 to 15 cm).
Seeds: Cover. End of winter or early in the spring. Germination time: two months to one year. Seeds should first be sown into flats, cover with layers of a compost and then gravel. Next sink the flat into the ground in an area that offers shade. Once seedlings emerge transplant them to pots. Upon further growth they can be transferred to a nursery bed. Allow to grow there for a further two years, and then transfer to the garden at the start of spring or in autumn.
Requirements: Partial shade for best results; can be grown in full shade. Good drainage. Moist, fertile soil with added organic material. Regular and deep watering during dry periods. Add a top dressing of 2 inches (5 cm) leaf mold in the autumn. Feed regularly with liquid seaweed whilst growing; avoid getting fertilizer on the leaves. Plants should be divided every five years to maintain vigour.
Propagate: by dividing in the spring in cooler areas, or in the autumn in warmer areas.
Miscellaneous: Convallaria is used as a food source by the Grey Chi moth. Finland’s national flower.

How to Grow Lily of the Valley and other Convallaria species

If planning to grow Convallaria outdoors from seed then it should be sown out at the end of winter. The seeds should be sown in flats, covered in compost, and have a layer of glass for protection. If you are growing Lilies of the valley from rhizomes then they should be buried at a depth of 5 to 8 cm.

Germination can take from two months up to one year. Once seedlings have appeared they should be transplanted into individual pots. Once the Convallaria plant appears to be strong they should be moved to a dedicated nursery bed for two years. After this time the perennial can be moved to its final location. This should be a partially shaded part of the garden (Lily of the Valley will grow in full shade, but will not produce abundant flowers) with good drainage.

Caring for Lily of the Valley

The plants should be spaced about 12 cm apart into an organic soil that is both moist and rich. Once established further plants can be had by division in the autumn. Lily of the valley plants require a lot of watering and should be fertilized at the beginning of spring (do not splash fertilizer onto the leaves). In the autumn a top dressing with leaf mold will help to protect the plant. The plant should be divided every five years to maintain vigorous growth.



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