‘Best time’ to plant the Queen’s ‘favourite’ – lily of the valley

Windsor: The public pay respect to Queen Elizabeth II

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Lily of the valley flowers are best known for the delicate white petals and signature scent, so it’s no wonder they were one of Queen Elizabeth II’s most-loved blooms. As a royal favourite, these stunning flowers are a staple feature in the gardens at Buckingham Palace, and can be easily grown in pots in your own outdoor space too. According to gardening experts, avoiding frost is key to getting lily of the valley flowers to thrive, and there’s two key opportunities to plant them throughout the year.

The dainty flowers found on lily of the valley plants are held dear to the monarch, having featured in Queen Elizabeth II’s coronation bouquet back in 1953.

According to Blooming Haus, the striking green foliage and delicate petals also made an appearance in the Queen Mother’s wedding bouquet in 1921, Princess Diana’s in 1981, and Kate, Duchess of Cambridge and Cornwall’s bouquet in 2011.

In addition to being a staple flower for key royal events, the Queen’s love for lily of the valley has also been reflected in the 39-acre garden at Buckingham Palace, where they can be found growing amongst the sprawling lawns.

When to plant lily of the valley

Lily of the valley are best planted as rooted crowns, which have “pips” that act as growing points for new plants.

While these can be planted directly into the ground outdoors, the striking display of flowers and foliage will look even better if started, or grown entirely in pots.

According to gardening expert David Marks of Garden Focused, lily of the valley can be planted in the ground “all year long” as long as the soil is not frozen, though the rules are slightly different for pots.

He added that the “best times” to plant these stunning flowers in pots is between mid-September to October, and mid-March to April.

Like most bulbs, autumn planting is beneficial as it allows a proper dormancy period ahead of the growing season in late spring.

While lily of the valley flowers are easy to grow, it is important to get the planting conditions right before leaving them to flourish.

David explained that the position of your pot is key to encourage a bright, beautiful plant in spring.

He said: “Choose the position carefully. In ideal conditions lily of the valley can be very invasive.

“They are easily dug up but if they grow amongst other plants they can be almost impossible to eradicate.”

Though this is less of an issue for potted lily of the valley, it is still crucial to keep pots away from other beds and borders to prevent overcrowding.

The nodding white blossoms are expected to arrive early to mid-spring if planted in autumn, though it can take some more time for a full display to appear in the first year.

How to plant lily of the valley in autumn

To get the most out of the floral fragrance and classic contrast of white and green growth, it is essential to plant the crowns correctly.

Start by soaking the roots in water for around half an hour before planting into your chosen pots.

Once the pots are filled with compost, dig a small hole – just a little larger than the roots.

Place the roots into the hole and cover with a layer of soil, so that the top sits 0.5cm below surface.

For an extra boost, sprinkle in a handful of blood, fish and bone and work into the soil before watering well.

Keep the pots in a warm space, either in a greenhouse or conservatory to establish and maintain a regular watering schedule.

In May, move the pots outside to their final growing position in a partially shaded area.

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