Secrets of growing Lily of the Valley
Author: JM Date Posted:19 May 2018
For those who have wanted to grow Lily of the Valley but have failed for one reason or another here are our tips .
When established, Convallaria majalis or Lily of the Valley, is a very easy plant, some would say weed, but it is surprising how many people have difficulty getting it to that stage.
As with all plants choosing a position in your garden that parallels its native environment of cool, well lit, woodland is the first step. For those with light shade and a humus laden soil establishing the plants we sell should be no great issue if an even moisture is maintained all summer. Our plants are grown using 6 pips in a 10cm pot and grown for a season to establish their root system - they often flower in their first season with us and will certainly do so in their second given the right climate. A great deal of failure can be attributed to retailers persisting in selling bare-rooted pips which are dehydrated by the time the gardener plants them - Lily of the Valley is just not suited to this type of abuse - so avoid the hanging packets sold in the big box stores they are quite simply colourful labels with disappointment attached.
For those who only have light shade in an area congested with tree and shrub roots, growing Lily of the with Valley in pots is the best option. Pots should be on the shallow side , certainly wider than they are deep and big enough that they will not dry out over the summer given your personal watering regime. If you can only get to watering the pots once a week then make the pot big enough to remain moist for that stretch. Choose a pot that has straight outwardly angled sides for easier repotting , fill with good quality potting mix amended with extra peat and rotted cow manure. Plant your Lily of the Valley, water in and place in a cool place preferably facing east and make sure the pot is on feet to prevent worms entering and upsetting the drainage. We mulch our pots with sphagnum moss which is both attractive and effective in maintaining moisture.
Smaller pots of Lily of the Valley can be bought inside for short periods where the fragrance is intensified by the little extra warmth - just make sure they are thoroughly watered beforehand and returned outside at the first signs of dryness. This is not an option though if you live in hot ,centrally heated, house as Lilly of the Valley will quickly become resentful of the dry air.
Your pot of Lily of The Valley will remain green and full of leaves right the way through until autumn at which point the old leaves should be cut away. When this is done ,a top dressing of cow manure and a liquid feed will set things up for a vigorous start to the new season. After a few years of filling out the pot it will be time to decant the root-ball. You will discover just how congested Convallaria roots can get. Shake off as much old soil as possible and return to the bottom of the pot where you have covered the drainage holes with sphagnum, squish the 'wire-cage' of roots to the bottom of the pot and add new soil from the top pushing it in through the roots as much as possible , when nearly done give the pot a good water. You will find the soil level will drop ,just repeat the process and top with Sphagnum. Keep moist if winter weather isn't doing this for you and expect lots of new leaves and flowers in spring. This type of decanting can be done a surprising number of times before the need to divide becomes necessary at which point you simply chop in half and pot up two bowls.- the more the merrier.