Lily of the Valley (Convularia Majalis) can be difficult to establish from pips so is often best planted “in the green”, that is, just after flowering.
They prefer a shady or semi shady site, under deciduous trees is best in soil that is moist but well drained and rich in organic matter.
Bulbs can be planted in the autumn, around late September, whilst the “pips” (rootlets) can be planted in the spring or autumn. Plant about 3 – 4 cms apart.
Be patient, as lily of the valley can take around three to five years to start flowering well.
After the flowers have faded, do not remove the leaves, but continue to water and allow to die back naturally to ensure a good food supply for the bulb. Once yellow and faded, the leaves can be removed.
Lily of the valley spreads via rhizomes under the soil and can become quite invasive once established. Congested plants may cease to flower and can be divided in the autumn. Plant the divisions to the same depth as the parent plant, about 15 – 25cm apart.
The plants will appreciate a good dressing of light organic fertilizer which can be applied after flowering.
All parts of lily of the valley are poisonous, so take care when handling. The red berries can be attractive to children; if eaten even in small amounts, the plant can cause abdominal pain, vomiting, and a reduced heart rate.
Keep the plant out of the way of pets, as lily of the valley is extremely toxic to dogs and cats.
Growing lily of the valley – Carol Klein explains how to grow lily of the valley