By: Liz Baessler
Lily of the valley plants produce a delicate, fragrant flower that is unmistakable and a great addition to the garden (provided you manage to keep their spread in check). But what kind of selection is out there? There’s a lot more to lily of the valley than just its sweet scent. Keep reading to learn more about the different lily of the valley plant types.
Common lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis) has dark green leaves, tops out at about 10 inches (25 cm.) in height and produces small, extremely fragrant, white flowers. As long as it’s contained from taking over the garden, you can’t go wrong with this variety. There are, however, a large number of interesting cultivars that set themselves apart.
Lily of the valley doesn’t necessarily mean white flowers anymore. There are many lily of the valley varieties that produce pink blooms. “Rosea” is a cultivar of the plant that has flowers with a pink tinge to them. The amount and depth of the pink can vary from specimen to specimen.
Another way to introduce more color to your lily of the valley patch is to choose a variety with variegated leaves. “Albomarginata” has white edges, while “Albostriata” has white stripes that fade somewhat to green as the summer wears on.
Yellow and bright light-green striping can be found in varieties like “Aureovariegata,” “Hardwick Hall,” and “Crema da Mint.” “Fernwood’s Golden Slippers” emerges with all-over yellow foliage that never quite fades to green.
Some more interesting kinds of lily of the valley varieties are grown for their size. “Bordeaux” and “Flore Pleno” will grow to a foot (30.5 cm.) tall. “Fortin Giant” can reach all the way to 18 inches (45.5 cm.) in height. “Flore Pleno,” as well as being tall, produces large double flowers. “Dorien” also has larger than normal flowers.
This article was last updated on
Read more about Lily Of The Valley
Lily of the valley craves shade. In the wild, you’ll frequently find it growing in a woodland area beneath tall trees that cast dappled shade. In the garden, tuck this perennial near the base of trees, under shrubs like azalea and rhododendron or on the north side of buildings where grass just won’t take hold.
Moist, well-drained soil that’s rich in organic matter yields the best growth, but this groundcover is versatile, adapting to any soil — clay, sandy, acidic or dry. What it can’t stand is sun or hot, dry conditions. Plantings that receive dappled sun often develop brown leaves when summer's dog days arrive.
These glossy-leaved perennial plants have beautifully dainty bell-shaped white flowers that have a sweet, and classic, scent. Everyone has either seen or smelled these, but did you know that they are the only species of the genus Convallaria in the asparagus family? Or that they aren’t actually a lily? As these are the May birth flower, we would like to wish all our members who were born in May the happiest of birthdays!⚘
✽The botanical (scientific) name for Lily of the Valley is Convallaria majalis (or maialis), which means “of/belonging to May.”
✽It grows in shady areas in temperate zones across North America, Europe, and Asia.
✽These spread by way of stolons and/or rhizomes that sprawl out either underground, or above ground.
✽As of 1967 the Lily of the Valley has been the national flower of Finland.
✽May 1 is La Fête du Muguet (Lily of the Valley Day) in France.
✽Historically the leaves were used to create green pigment.
✽In the Victorian times the flower symbolized the return of happiness.
✽During the Middle Ages, Lily of the Valley were used in bridal bouquets because they meant chastity, modesty, and purity.
✽It was used in the bouquets of Princess Astrid of Sweden Queen Victoria Grace Kelly and Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge (Kate Middleton).
✽According to Christian lore, when Eve was banished from the Garden of Eden, Lily of the Valley emerged where her tears hit the ground.
✽The Lily of the Valley was the floral emblem of Yugoslavia.
✽Many perfumes use/have used the scent, such as Dior’s Diorissimo, Olivia Giacobetti’s En Passant, Penhaligon’s Lily of the Valley, and Henri Robert’s Muguet de Bois.
✽In the past, especially during WWI, Lily of the Valley was used to create an antidote for gas poisoning, to help treat epilepsy, heart conditions, burns, and to assist in sedation. It isn’t used often anymore because:
✽Every part of the plant is poisonous, as they all contain 38 different cardiac glycosides. Symptoms can range from drowsiness, blurred vision, abdominal cramping, vomiting, slow heart rate, and death due to heart failure.
✽These are not just poisonous to humans, but also to animals, so don’t let them so much as nibble on a leaf or flower.