If you purchased Easter lilies, daffodils, tulips, hydrangeas or other forced seasonal flowers, you may be wondering what to do with them now. Forced tulips do not hold up when transplanted to the garden, so they should be discarded. However the other items can be planted to enjoy from year to year. Keep forced perennials in the house until after danger of frost (in the Richmond area, at least until mid-April) in bright light with even moisture and good drainage. Remove spent flowers, but do not cut back the
Plant Easter lilies (Lilium longifolium) in a sunny, well-drained location, and allow the foliage to die back naturally. They will appear again next spring, usually blooming sometime in May. These beautiful perennial lilies produce a wonderful sweet fragrance. Daffodils and hyacinths also prefer a full sun, well-drained spot, and will appear next year in March or April. Daffodils (Narcissus) are especially hardy and reliable bloomers for the spring garden.
Hydrangeas that have been forced into early bloom can be cut back (just above a leaf joint at which you would like to see new growth) and planted in a spot that receives direct morning sun. Young or newly planted hydrangeas are very thirsty, so be sure to give them adequate water. They will probably not produce any more flowers until next summer. Blue or pink flowering hydrangeas will probably produce blue flowers next season, as we tend to have very acidic soil in this area. If you wish to keep a pink hydrangea producing pink flowers, add lime to the soil each year to raise the pH.
Chrysanthemums can be cut back and planted in a sunny part of the garden, and should be pinched back two more times before mid-summer to make them full and bushy for fall blooming. Forced azaleas may not be hardy varieties for our area, but they make a nice houseplant for a bright window. With regular watering and fertilizing, they will bloom intermittently throughout the year. Any necessary pruning should be done just after flowering.
Calla lilies are borderline hardy in this area, so most people dig and store the tubers for the winter in a dark, dry, cool but not cold location in the house. Planted outside after frost in a sunny location, they can bloom most of the summer with regular fertilizing.