The Story Behind Easter Lilies - Welkes Milwaukee Florist
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The Story Behind Easter Lilies

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Have you ever found yourself buying Easter lilies because it was that time of year, but you didn’t know why this flower came to be associated with the Easter holiday? Well, look no further because on today’s blog we’ll discuss some of the history and symbolism of the Easter lily. If you’re in the Milwaukee area, you can order the famed flower of the holiday from us, or take a look at our other special occasion flowers for this Easter weekend.


The Latin name for the beloved Easter flower is Lilium longiflorum, and it is a native to the Ryukyu Islands of Japan. The Japanese grew and exported the vast majority of these flowers for American Easter each year up until World War II. When the war began, production of the flower switched to the U.S., where a soldier from World War I had brought home some of the flowers and began growing them. Today, the majority of these bulbs for the Easter season are grown along the coastal bottom lands in northwestern California and southwestern Oregon.

Symbolism in Christianity

In Christianity, the flower has come to symbolize the resurrection of Jesus Christ and therefore is associated with the Easter season. Legends and folklore abound that these lilies sprouted from the ground in the Garden of Gethsemane where drops of Jesus Christ’s sweat fell when he prayed in his final hours.

However, in Christianity the flowers represent more than simply Jesus Christ’s resurrection. When the Virgin Mary’s tomb was visited three days after her burial, legend says it was empty except for bunches of the white lilies. Additionally, there’s a legend that when Eve cried on her way out of the Garden of Eden, lilies sprung up from the ground where her tears landed. Whether or not you believe these legends, they’ve played an important part in lilies’ modern representation.

With all these legends of the lily, Christian churches used the flower to decorate their alters and surround their crosses, especially in preparation for the Easter services. The flower came to symbolize more than the folklore of the resurrection; today, the white color represents purity and grace, and the spring blooming represents rebirth. As they’ve been used over the years to decorate churches, homes, and Easter dinner tables alike, these lilies personify love, hope, and family.

Caring for your lilies

For your Easter lilies this year, here are some tips to prolong their life and keep them looking beautiful and fresh all season long:

  • Choose a plant that has some buds open and some partially closed.
  • The leaves should be a rich green from the tip all the way down to the roots.
  • Choose a plant that is well proportioned, and probably about two times as tall as the pot.
  • Water your plant when the soil is dry to the touch, but don’t overwater.
  • Keep your lily plant away from drafts or heat.
  • Put the flower in bright, indirect light.
  • Remove the yellow anthers in the center of each flower. If the pollen stains fabric before you remove them, use tape to remove the pollen instead of rubbing it.
  • Keep the flowers away from cats. Any part of the lily — and many of the lily’s relatives — can be fatal to a cat and cause kidney failure.

We hope the history of the Easter lily, along with our tips for care, will help you understand the flower more this holiday. Buy one from Welke’s House of Roses today for your Easter needs! And if you choose to go with a less traditional flower to decorate your home this Easter or to give as a gift, we still have you covered. Order special occasion flowers online in the Milwaukee area from us, and you’ll get the quality and beauty you expect and want. 

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