Behind the scenes: Easter Flowers
Ninety pots of flowers will fill the Sanctuary and Chapel this coming Easter – all of them grown locally.
Stacee Millett is the greenhouse manager at Wallace’s Garden Center. A horticulturist, she makes sure that every bulb is planted at the exact right time – and that the plants are in the exact right environment through the growing process – to ensure beautiful blooms for this day of rejoicing.
For the greenhouse staff, Easter flower season began back in the fall/early winter, Stacee said. Easter lilies, for example, were planted on Dec. 5.
“They are very time sensitive,” Stacee said. “They have to be planted on the dot.”
(If you would like to donate a plant in honor or in memory of a loved one, place your order by Wednesday, March 16. The cost is $12 per plant. Forms are available at the Info Center. Form with payment – checks made out to St. Paul – may be left at the receptionist’s desk.)
The growing of Easter lilies begins when cases of cooled bulbs arrive at the greenhouse. The date of planting is set based on the day Easter falls on. An inch of dirt goes into the bottom of the pots. Workers find the “eye” of the bulb, or where the lily will sprout. The eye is placed in the middle of the pot.
At first, the lilies are kept in 62-65 degrees. Then after a couple weeks, they are warmed to 75 degrees. Wallace’s will grow 2,000 lilies this year.
The tulips (yellow, red, and pink), daffodils, and hyacinths (purple and pink) all have a similar process to each other. They are in pots by early November, and stay in a cool area – about 32 degrees – for several weeks.
Four to six weeks before Easter, based on the type of flower, Stacee brings the thousands of tulips, daffodils, and hyacinths into the greenhouse.
“We warm them up and get them shooting out of the dirt,” she said. Then, staff members watch the plants to make sure they won’t bloom too early, and change conditions to slow the process if need be.
When Holy Week arrives each spring, they prepare the plants by pinching the pollen out of the lilies (the pollen stains the flower and clothing), and wrapping the pots in decorative foil.
Then, the greenhouse staff starts to look towards Christmas, Stacee said.
Easter and Christmas are the two largest planned holidays for the greenhouse, she said. For Christmas time, they grow 15,000 poinsettias – starting in July.