Convallaria majalis

Growth and florescence

Rhizome, nose
If you keep an eye on one single Convallaria plant during a few years, you will notice that on exactly the same position of the shoot of this year there will grow a replacing shoot next year. Sometimes a 2nd one right beside it.
And on 5 tot 15cm distance of the old plant there can appear another plant.

Such a whole new plant won't flower in the first year that it comes above the ground, it normally does in its second year.
I'm not sure if my translation is right, but a dormant rhizome that won't flower next season is called a "plant nose", because only a plant will grow out of it, no flower. And one that will flower next season is called a "flower nose".

On the picture below, taken in the autumn of 2008, you can see quite well how the plant grows and develops.

In the early spring of 2006, it was still winter actually, I started with one single nose, on the picture left (2006).
In summer 2006 a rhizome has grown out of this plant (2006a).
At the end of this rhizome a new plant nose developed which appeared above the ground in spring 2007 (2007).
This new plant nose was very strong, the large root system proves this, but also it developed even two rhizomes (2007a) in summer 2007.
At the end of both rhizomes a new plant nose was formed which appeared above the ground in spring 2008 (2008), but this were just very thin shoots.

As you see at the base of the 4 shoots (2006, 2007, 2008+2008) there is a replacing nose formed and sometimes even two of them.
Also on the rhizome 2006a and on one of the rhizomes 2007a an extra nose is built which saw daylight for the first time in spring 2009.
Just to mention: in 2008 no new rhizomes were developed.

The bell shaped flowers of the lily of the valley hang on one side of the slightly bowed flower stalk, mostly between 6 and 12 flowers per stalk.
The small bells are about 8 mm long, the petals are attached to eachother.
Photo courtesy of Andrew Piotrowski
Some Convallaria cultivars develop larger bells and/or get more bells per stalk.
There is also a cultivar with twice as many petals: a double flowering variety.

When the flowers are pollinated with pollen from a different group of lilies, berries with seeds are formed.
Most of the times no berries appear in case of self-pollination.
The fruits are green in summer and will colour through orange tints into red in autumn.

The seeds can be sown directly in autumn or you can wait until early spring.
Sow the seeds with a little distance in between, because they shouldn't be re-planted until a full growing season has passed and until that time they need some space of course.
By the way, it can take 2 to 12 months before the seeds germinate!

PLEASE NOTE: all parts of the plant are poisonous, so wash your hands thoroughly if you have been in contact with sap or berries.

Often a Convallaria plant has 2 leaves.
A strong, well fed shoot can bring 3 leaves and sometimes even a small 4th leave at the base of the shoot.
The leaves are parallel-veined.

Many of the currently existing cultivars are leaf-mutants (sports) of the original Convallaria majalis.
This means that the leaves got a heritable change, so that they look different.

Most known examples are Convallaria majalis 'Albostriata' with white-yellow stripes on the leaves
and Convallaria majalis 'Hardwick Hall' with a fine yellow rim around each leaf.
An eye-catching new cultivar is Convallaria majalis 'Silberconfolis' with a nice, bright white rim around each leaf.

Next page

Back to index

Ordering Convallaria plants

© Copyright 2010 All rights reserved. It is NOT allowed to use texts and/or pictures without first having a written approval.