PlantFiles: European Lily of the Valley, May Bells, Our Lady's Tears Convallaria majalis
It's time to read and vote for your favorite article in the 2013 Write-Off Contest! The four finalist's articles are featured in the May 13 newsletter and can be found through this link. Hurry! Voting ends May 18.
Hardiness: USDA Zone 4a: to -34.4 °C (-30 °F) USDA Zone 4b: to -31.6 °C (-25 °F) USDA Zone 5a: to -28.8 °C (-20 °F) USDA Zone 5b: to -26.1 °C (-15 °F) USDA Zone 6a: to -23.3 °C (-10 °F) USDA Zone 6b: to -20.5 °C (-5 °F) USDA Zone 7a: to -17.7 °C (0 °F) USDA Zone 7b: to -14.9 °C (5 °F) USDA Zone 8a: to -12.2 °C (10 °F) USDA Zone 8b: to -9.4 °C (15 °F)
Sun Exposure: Light Shade
Danger: All parts of plant are poisonous if ingested
Bloom Color: Pink White/Near White
Bloom Time: Mid Spring Late Spring/Early Summer
Foliage: Grown for foliage Deciduous Herbaceous Smooth-Textured
Other details: May be a noxious weed or invasive This plant is attractive to bees, butterflies and/or birds Flowers are fragrant Average Water Needs; Water regularly; do not overwater
Soil pH requirements: 5.6 to 6.0 (acidic) 6.1 to 6.5 (mildly acidic) 6.6 to 7.5 (neutral)
Patent Information: Non-patented
Propagation Methods: By dividing rhizomes, tubers, corms or bulbs (including offsets)
Seed Collecting: Allow pods to dry on plant; break open to collect seeds Seed does not store well; sow as soon as possible
On Mar 25, 2011, RosemaryK from Lexington, MA (Zone 6a) wrote:
This is probably the easiest plant I know to start and to grow into a large colony for groundcover. The leaves do not particularly die out in summer around here as long as the plant is grown in the shade. The delicate fragrant flowers in spring are a bonus. It's always OK to let the kids pick them because they are so plentiful.
On Jun 22, 2009, shadydame from North Walpole, NH (Zone 5a) wrote:
I'm not sure what to think of my lily of the valley plants. I originally planted them as bulbs, and for 2 years, they didn't really come up. Thinking them dead, my husband tilled the slope they were planted on this spring, & now, I have 17 of them and have had to move them closer together. Only a few of them actually flowered, and right now, they are being eaten to death (by slugs, I think.) I think I'll allow them to stay and see how they do next year.
On May 15, 2008, atprocks from Piscataway, NJ wrote:
I live in NJ (Zone 6) and Im having trouble growing this plant. I have planted several pips early this spring in my backyard(quite shady) where I had a number of Hostas. So far I dont see a single pip shooting up.
I had planted one lily of valley plant in my front yard last spring(2007) and this year it came back but it didn't flower at all.
Does this plant takes few years to show up or to get establish ? . I thought this was a very easy growing plant.
On May 5, 2008, minnasnowtan from Braham, MN (Zone 3b) wrote:
I had a large cluster of these plants in the yard, under a large oak tree, where I used to live. They were there when I moved in. I found it easy enough to contain the plants by simply mowing them off where they grew out into the yard. I also dug out a few of these each spring and shared them with friends.
I love these flowers and got several plants from my sister 2 years ago to plant at my new house. They bloomed last year and are spreading some this year, much to my joy! I planted them with hastas and bleeding heart. The other plants fill out the space left when the lilies die back so there is no ugly blank space in the garden.
The garden they're in is a raised bed so I won't be able to simply mow them off if they get too invasive, but that is a problem I am looking forward to tackling in the future.
On Jan 31, 2008, DATURA12 from Fort Worth, TX (Zone 8a) wrote:
I adore this plant, it grew like crazy back home in Pa., this is my 4th try trying to get this to grow in Texas. I should be so lucky to have this one be invasive. These and violas or as we called them blue bells were one of the first signs of spring. I used to pick them and put them in a little vase, they smelled throughout the house.
On May 10, 2007, MsKatt from Mid-Michigan, MI (Zone 5b) wrote:
One of my all-time favorite flowers! I remember picking hundreds of them when I was a child...the sweet scent was always a harbinger of Spring.
I have a hill that is very deep shade and it's literally covered by hundreds if not thousands of these beauties. I've dug some and transplanted them in other shady spots and they are doing wonderfully. I have not had a problem with them being invasive. They DO like it moist, humus-rich and shady. I'm zone 5b/6a
On Jun 16, 2006, Pashta from Moncks Corner, SC (Zone 8b) wrote:
Very light scent. Beautiful white blooms. Needs alot of moisture I have found, at least for me they did. Bloomed nicely in pots, but I would prefer to put them in the ground. They should naturalize themselves nicely in a somewhat shady location.
On May 25, 2006, JoieM from Portland, OR (Zone 8a) wrote:
I planted about 4-5 pips 2 years ago. they doubled and I transplanted them to a new part of the yard early this spring. They have still NEVER bloomed. I am craving this amazing fragrance I keep reading about. Why am I not getting any blooms?
On May 25, 2006, chahn from anchorage, AK (Zone 4a) wrote:
I bought a start of this plant several years ago at a garden club sale. I placed it in my perenial garden and forgot about it because it was not noteworthy. I expected a larger bloom etc. It has come back every year and each year there are a few more. We are having a very late spring and they are just growing maybe 4-6 inches tall in the garden. My husband asked me what was on our southern exposure hill. It is COVERED with lily of the valley. I have never seen so many ever in this location. The location is shaded by many tall trees and so steep that I never even venture on the hill. The lily of the valley must have traveled from the flat garden in the back yard at least 15 feet to be so prolific on the steep hill. Now I am unsure if it will take water from the trees to continue its rapid expansion. I am in Anchorage Alaska. So my experience is neutral, but guarded.
On Apr 14, 2006, escambiaguy from Atmore, AL (Zone 8b) wrote:
I have had this plant in my yard for over 40 years. It was planted by my great grandmother before she died. It dies off during the summer here. Maybe it's the hot summers that keep it from becoming invasive. I have no more trouble with it spreading than daylilies or cannas. It seems to come up here in the spring before anything else.
This isn't the best looking plant most of the year and tends to take over, in some areas more than others, but when in bloom, its scent is heavenly. I have read that it is hardy in zones 2-10. Blooms in May in my garden.
On Jan 13, 2006, ZaksGarden from Winston Salem, NC wrote:
I grow Lily of the Valley in a small 12 foot corner of my garden. This area has a thick canopy of dogwood trees all summer so the plants grow in full shade. I have only been growing these plants for 2 years myself, and so far I have not found them invasive at all. I love their blooms, and although they are not the largest and most spectacular, they are still a great contrast to bleeding heart or hostas.
On Nov 20, 2004, pokerboy from Canberra Australia (Zone 8b) wrote:
I really like the lily of the valley plant because of its fragrance and lush foliage. I have a compact clump in a pot which dries out quite regulary and every shoot produces a marvellous flower. I think the dryness is the problem in terms of it not spreading. Thats right, I want it to spread, I want it to become a weed in my garden. I hope it happens soon. A great plant to try. pokerboy.
On Oct 17, 2004, MsMaati from Newburgh, IN (Zone 6a) wrote:
I love the smell of the little bells. Reminds me of my Granny. They can be invasive but they are really nice in a deep shade area that has defined perameters. I have mine above the riprap of a creek that runs diagonally through my yard. They stay in that area and have not wandererd out. It took several years to get a real thick growth, but now they are beginning to do well. I would not plant them next to or in any of my flower beds, but this area that I have them in is difficult. Nothing but English Ivy and Lily of the Valley will grow there. Both are invasive but that is what I need there.
On May 31, 2004, kim1964hay from Carol Stream, IL wrote:
Extremely invasive, actually pushed through asphalt driveway. Impossible to kill, somehow a little survives and then spreads like wildfire. Digging helps to keep it from completely taking over. One positive comment though, it has a lovely fragrance.
On Mar 18, 2004, HarryNJ from Neptune, NJ (Zone 7b) wrote:
Have to agree totally with Sue. It can spread over 6 feet in a single season in loose sandy soil. In mulched areas it is somewhat easier to remove as it seems to prefer to lay its runners right at the junction of the soil and the mulch, so you can just push back the mulch and rip it off the top of the soil. You have to be careful to get every bit of the runners however, as the tiniest piece with a node will quickly regrow. I tolerate it in a couple difficult places, but it really isn't worth giving any prominence in the garden. It can tolerate extremely deep shade (in fact the foliage looks better in shade) and bone-dry soil and still thrive, but it is in bloom less than a week (always seems to time it's blooming with the first heat wave), and turns an unattractive yellow-brown early in the fall. As for the berries, most years go by without a single one, I think the most I have seen is a total of three and this is including a great many plants. If only it were evergreen it would at least make a good ground cover for the most difficult situations.
In SE Michigan - this plant is very invasive. I am constantly digging it up to keep it under control - spreads rapidly thru underground system - you have to virtually dig up an entire area and sift out the plants.
Too much trouble.
On Mar 19, 2003, CanadaGoose from Oakville, ON (Zone 5b) wrote:
I have been growing Convallaria for several years and love them. The clumps expand fairly slowly but enough that I have been able to expand my original clump to about 8 in the back yard and another 4 in the front yard over an 8 year period. They divide easily. Back clumps are in dappled shade under fruit trees and flower at about the same time as the trees start to lose their own flowers and leaf out. Front clumps are in full sun part of the day. Scent is heavenly.
On Aug 30, 2002, smiln32 from Oklahoma City, OK (Zone 7a) wrote:
An individual plant consists of two or three boardly oval, pointed leaves up to 8" long; underground rhizomes for gradually expanding clumps that create a thick carpet of foliage. (From the Sunset Easy-Care Gardening book)
On Nov 17, 2000, jody from MD &, VA (Zone 7b) wrote:
Lily of the Valley are highly scented, low growing of 8" to 12" high and will spread as much as you let them by pips, or rhizomes. They have small bell shaped flowers in spring. There are several cultivars that consist of pink flowers, gold foliage, or varigated foliage. Best cultivated in part in part shade, well draining soil. May overcrowd if confined and will need to be thinned. Propagte by division or seed. Hardy zones 3-9.
This plant has been said to grow in the following regions:
Anchorage, Alaska Merced, California San Bruno, California Colorado Springs, Colorado Denver, Colorado Carol Stream, Illinois Godfrey, Illinois Hampton, Illinois Peoria, Illinois Tuscola, Illinois Washington, Illinois Newburgh, Indiana Council Bluffs, Iowa Decorah, Iowa Johnston, Iowa Ewing, Kentucky Raceland, Kentucky Baton Rouge, Louisiana Cornville, Maine Lisbon, Maine Cresaptown-bel Air, Maryland Billerica, Massachusetts Halifax, Massachusetts Mashpee, Massachusetts Waltham, Massachusetts Winchester, Massachusetts Bay City, Michigan Lake Orion, Michigan Owosso, Michigan Pinconning, Michigan South Lyon, Michigan Utica, Michigan Arden Hills, Minnesota Braham, Minnesota Minneapolis, Minnesota St Cloud, Minnesota Blue Springs, Missouri Piedmont, Missouri Lincoln, Nebraska Auburn, New Hampshire North Walpole, New Hampshire Ramblewood, New Jersey Verona, New Jersey Alden, New York Baldwinsville, New York Bolton Landing, New York Buffalo, New York Elba, New York Fleischmanns, New York Greene, New York Himrod, New York Schenectady, New York Syracuse, New York Troy, New York West Babylon, New York Brevard, North Carolina Elizabeth City, North Carolina Raleigh, North Carolina Winston-salem, North Carolina Belfield, North Dakota Medora, North Dakota Glouster, Ohio Jamestown, Ohio Niles, Ohio Dallas, Oregon Portland, Oregon (2 reports) Salem, Oregon Albrightsville, Pennsylvania Greencastle, Pennsylvania Greensburg, Pennsylvania Johnsonburg, Pennsylvania Laflin, Pennsylvania Malvern, Pennsylvania Telford, Pennsylvania Warrior Run, Pennsylvania Conway, South Carolina Greenville, South Carolina Hendersonville, Tennessee Viola, Tennessee Austin, Texas Elwood, Utah Farmington, Utah West Valley City, Utah (2 reports) Aquia Harbour, Virginia Lake Monticello, Virginia Oakton, Virginia West Springfield, Virginia Bellevue, Washington Cheney, Washington Cottage Lake, Washington Inglewood-finn Hill, Washington Kalama, Washington Lake Lac La Belle, Wisconsin Park Ridge, Wisconsin Spooner, Wisconsin Watertown, Wisconsin