Plant Profile: Lily of the Valley

When I picked up some Lily of the Valley  (Convallaria majalis) pips from a garden club plant exchange years ago, I wanted a spot for them that was well away from other planting beds as I had been warned about how this plant can take-over and be very aggressive. Just to get them in the ground quickly, I stuck them in an empty, dry shade area next to my home’s foundation. To my surprise, not only did they survive, but they actually thrived!
Their spreading tendencies are kept in check by being in that dry, full shade spot.  Give them better growing conditions, at your own peril.
They are the definition of low-maintenance. At the beginning of spring, I rake out the old, tattered foliage from their beds and sprinkle in some leaf compost. This isn’t necessary, but it keeps the bed looking neat. Other than that, the only care they need is to pluck out the occasional weed in their midst.
The scent of their blooms in spring is lemon-y fresh. To pick some Lily of the Valley flowers to enjoy indoors. Grasp their stem down at the base and then pull firmly upwards in one smooth motion.
Note that they are poisonous and should be kept away from small children and pets.
Over the years, I have collected the pink version of Lily of the Valley as well as one with variegated foliage.
There is a native version Convallaria majuscule ‘Greene’ that is almost impossible to differentiate from the Eurasian import unless they are side-by-side. The American one is a bit taller and can be found in the Appalachian woodlands in discrete clumps of just a few plants, rather than in a large patch.
I highly recommend this sweet, little flower to beginning gardeners who want an early success to give them confidence to tackle more labor-intensive plantings.

Lily of the Valley – You Can Grow That!
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