Lily of the Valley flowers are little bell-shaped flowers which grow in clusters. These flowers have a wonderful, sweet fragrance and bloom in the spring. Also called convallaria majalis, it belongs to the asparagus family and not truly a lily. Its foliage closely resembles some lilies – medium, green leaves which are 5 to 10 inches in length and 3 inches (ca. 8 cm) wide. The leaves grow in a clump and the flowers grow on a long stem in the middle. It is a herb and a perennial in most parts of the world.
Lily of the Valley grows well in woodland areas and native to cool climates in Asia and Europe. It grows well in North America as well. It is used as a folk remedy in small doses. The lily’s sweet fragrance attracts butterflies and is a source of food for species like the gray Chi moth. Though it attracts butterflies, it is toxic to people and animals, when ingested.
History and Name Origin
The Lily’s scientific name – majalis – means belonging to May. In the language of flowers, Lily of the Valley signifies happiness returning. It is also known as Our Lady’s tears in legends related to Christianity. It is believed that these flowers rose after Mary’s tears touched the ground as her son was being crucified. This flower also stands for humility in religious paintings and a sign of the second coming of Christ.
In France, Lily of the Valley bouquets are traditionally sold on May 1st – International Labor Day. Lily of the Valley is the national flower of Finland and an emblem for Yugoslavia.
Lily of the Valley flower meaning is very deep in different cultures. In Germany, the flower is associated with Ostara, a goddess who is pure and humble. During Victorian times, it stood for a return to happiness. In the Bible, the flower signified Eve’s tears for her banishment from the Garden of Eden.
Lily of the Valley plants are also believed to protect gardens from the effects of evil spirits. It is also believed to guard against spells cast by witches.
Lily of the Valley Flower Colors
White Lily of the Valley flowers symbolize rebirth and humility. Other symbols associated with the flower are purity, chastity, motherhood, and sweetness.
Pink Lily of the Valley flowers stand for compassion, femininity, love, admiration and understanding.
Purple Lily of the Valley flower meanings are many – rarity, royalty, passion, accomplishment, dignity, success and pride.
Interesting facts about Lily of the Valley
- Lily of the Valley grows from a rhizome and a perennial.
- It thrives in well-drained soil which is moist. This lily grows well in partial shade but does well in sunny areas or even full shade, based on soil conditions.
- The flowers have a pretty bell shape and produces a very distinct scent. This fragrance signals the beginning of spring to many insects.
- Lily of the Valley flowers grow on arching stalks. The leaves are medium green and retain their color throughout the growing season.
- The plant likes to be watered well and thrives in good soil and watering conditions.
- Rhizomes should be planted ½ an inch in the soil.
- Since the rhizomes spread and grow wildly, they can become invasive. Growth can be easily controlled by digging up, dividing, and replanting about 5 inches apart. This can be done in the fall or early winter.
- If the rhizomes were divided and planted in the fall, it may not flower immediately. Look for flowers in the second year.
- Experts suggest leaving just an inch of the root on the rhizome before replanting. Ensure that the tip of the rhizome is just above the soil surface.
- Lily of the Valley rhizomes can be planted in pots too. Use a good potting soil and ensure that the planter has good drainage. The same planting rules apply to pot planting.
- Plant foliage should be left in place at the end of the flowering season. This helps the rhizome to gather energy for the next season.
- If the leaves turn yellow, they can be clipped off.
- Add a bit of fertilizer during the growing season.
- Plant along with Hostas or Cannas for a colorful flower bed.
Other interesting facts about Lily of the Valley
- Lily of the Valley is the birth flower for May.
- Giving someone you love Lily of the Valley means that they make your life complete, in the language of flowers.
- It is a popular choice of flower in wedding bouquets and religious ceremonies.
- It is toxic to both people and animals.
- Every part of the plant including its fruits are poisonous.
- The Lily of the Valley flower meaning is different in Asian and European cultures. It has deep roots and is mentioned often in the Bible.
- It is believed to bring luck in love relationships.
- The Greek God Apollo is said to have made a gift of the Lily to Aesclepius, the god of healing.
- It is native to many continents and found in Asian and European countries, as well as North America.
- Lily of the Valley plants don’t like hot conditions. They do however grow in full sun in cool climates.
- The plant’s leaves are used to make green pigment.
- It belongs to the asparagus family and is not really a lily.
- Lily of the Valley extract is used widely in perfumes and cosmetics.
- It was used as a healing tool to combat the effects of gas poisoning during World War I. It was also used to treat heart problems, burns to the skin and epilepsy.
When is it appropriate to gift Lily of the Valley?
If you have a friend with a May birthday, you can give them a bouquet or a plant. Since the Lily of the Valley flower meaning is deep, use your judgement based on the occasion. You can give it to a friend who is sweet or has accomplished something phenomenal.
Like other flowers, the Lily of the Valley has significance in many cultures. If you plan to plant some in your garden, make sure that children and pets don’t eat any part of the plant. The flowers can be cut and used to make a fragrant bouquet for your home or as a hostess gift. Now that you know more about the flower, enjoy planting or even gifting.