Saturday, January 7, 2012


Forcing sounds so, well, aggressive, doesn't it? Let's say coaxing. Yes, that's it. We're coaxing some lilies of the valley to bloom out of season.

Those two little nubs in the lower center of the picture
are lily of the valley pips.

Thursday afternoon, January 5

If you'd like to play along and it's still mild in your neighborhood, find the patch where the lilies of the valley dwell. Then brush back the leaf debris until you see the little pips or growing tips poking out of the soil. This year I had trouble finding them - I think because we had the house painted in August and there was tramping going on where the lilies grow.

That and having Oscar helping me by inserting his furry self near each spot I was trying to scope. Good boy!

I finally figured out that following the withered scraps of lily leaves to their anchor point revealed the pips. Once you find yours, dig them out with a trowel, capturing some of the roots.

Plant them in a pot at the same depth they were in the garden. This is really important - plant them too deep and they spend their energy getting out of the soil and have nothing left for blooms. This is the voice of the sadder but wiser lily coaxer telling you this.

Position them much more closely in the pot than they are in nature, so you can fit more pips in a pot. This is to increase the odds of having at least some pips that produce flowers, as not all of them will. They don't all produce blooms in the garden, and they won't all here, either. Clip off any withered leaves.

Water and place in a warm sunny spot.

Friday morning, January 6

Last time I did this, it took about two weeks for there to be any sign at all of new life, and then another three or four more weeks before they finally flowered. It was a fun process, and I'm enjoying this year's already.

Come on, lilies of the valley!


  1. Come on, indeed! I had no idea those little things were called pips. My new garden is full of them, but I have no idea what is going to emerge.

  2. Thanks for the tute! If I can remember to get out there in the daylight I'd love to try this.

    Coaxing is a MUCH nicer word.


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