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Lily of the Valley, a sure sign of green to come


Common Name : Lily of the Valley


Science-y Name : Convallaria majalis


A Few Other Varieties : C. montana


Native or Non : Generally Lily of the valley are considered not native and an invasive species. It is up for debate, however, if the Montana variety is an actual native to the Eastern United States.


Characteristics : This spring to late spring bloomer is a Golidlocks among plants and likes a temperature that is neither too hot nor too cold. Leaves are elongated and oval shaped, and grow straight up from the ground in tight groups of two to three. The grouping of leaves has the very lily-like characteristic of being so tightly wound around each other at the base that they look like a green straw poking up out of the ground in the spring.

Tiny, white bell-like blossoms hang from the stalks when the flowers bloom, usually from March to May. They have a delicate scent that is often imitated in perfumes.

Lily of the valley will quickly crowd out a shady spot that they like best, and spread primarily through rhizomes. Rhizomes are defined as a continuously growing horizontal underground stem which puts out lateral shoots and roots at intervals where soil conditions are favorable to growth.

After flowering, the lily of the valley will produce bright red berries for seed distribution, because why rely on only one way to make more of yourself? Lily of the valley are full of toxins to both mammals and birds so the seeds in the berries are spread when the fruit falls and decomposes on the ground.


Fun Fact : Not sure this is fun, per se, but we’re going to repeat it again: lily of the valley are toxic to mammals and birds. You, reader, are a mammal. Have a cat or dog that is attracted to eating your plants? Then lily of the valley might not be the best choice, even if you are in love with the look of it. Do deer tend to browse the plants in your yard? Lily of the valley will provide a green that survives when your hostas get chomped. Weeding will be important so this fast spreading plant won’t take over where other flowering plants could thrive. Like working in the garden without gloves and just dug up a bunch of lily of the valley bulbs and rhizomes with your fingers? Wash your hands before doing anything else, particularly eating. Scrub the dirt out from under your nails. You may not be eating the plant parts directly, but why chance an upset stomach or racing heart?

Lily of the valley are an excellent example of why it’s important to know what grows in your yard and garden.


Care Considerations : RAG Thyme gardeners will manually weed out unwanted spread of lily of

the valley. True control of the plant will mean digging in and getting as much of the roots and rhizomes as possible. True elimination of a colony will take multiple visits, and it may never be gone completely.

Leaves of the plant don’t need to be trimmed until late summer or fall when the plants start to die back naturally as part of its life cycle.



Contact us to get an estimate on RAG Thyme services for your yard and garden! We’ll help existing plants stay brilliant, or suggest alternatives with as much beauty and personality.


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