Wednesday, May 13, 2020

Plant Profile: Lily of the Valley

When I picked up some Lily of the Valley (Convallaria majalis) pips from a garden club plant exchange years ago, I wanted a spot for them that was well away from other planting beds because I had been warned about how this plant can take over and be very aggressive. Just to get them in the ground quickly, I stuck them in an empty, dry shade area next to my home’s foundation. To my surprise, not only did they survive, but they actually thrived!

   Their spreading tendencies are kept in check by being in that dry, full-shade spot. Give them better growing conditions at your own peril.

   They are the definition of low-maintenance. At the beginning of spring, I rake out the old, tattered foliage from their beds and sprinkle in some leaf compost. This isn’t necessary, but it keeps the bed looking neat. Other than that, the only care they need is to pluck out the occasional weed in their midst.

   The scent of their blooms in spring is lemony fresh. To pick some Lily of the Valley flowers to enjoy indoors, grasp the stem down at the base and then pull firmly upward in one smooth motion.

   Note that they are poisonous and should be kept away from small children and pets.

   Over the years, I have collected the pink version of Lily of the Valley as well as one with variegated foliage.

   There is a native version, Convallaria majuscule ‘Greene’, that is almost impossible to differentiate from the Eurasian import unless they are side by side. The American one is a bit taller and can be found in the Appalachian woodlands in discrete clumps of just a few plants, rather than in a large patch.

   I highly recommend this sweet little flower to beginning gardeners who want an early success to give them confidence to tackle more labor-intensive plantings. 

Lily of the Valley - You Can Grow That!

The video was produced by Washington Gardener Magazine.

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  1. But wait, if they are poisonous, then why even plant them ? You cant eat them, and even can randomly get poisoned. Personally not plant any poisonous plants in garden. Godbless.

    1. You plant them because they are beautiful and make a great cut-flower. Bonus, many pollinators love them too.
      Many things we grow are poisonous to eat, but have other benefits. A heart medicine is made from this plant.


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