Lily of the valley (Convallaria majus) is an old-fashioned favorite known for its fragrant white flowers in May. But you can start the plants indoors in winter or early spring and bring them into bloom weeks ahead of the gardening season by using mail-order, prechilled lily-of-the-valley rootstock or rhizomes, called pips.
For an especially attractive display, follow our step-by-step instructions for planting the pips in a strawberry pot, which has plantable pockets that enable you to grow multiple plants in a single pot. Or plant in a container at least 6 inches deep to provide adequate room for the pips.
What You Need
- 36–48 lily-of-the-valley pips
- Potting mix
- 2-gallon pocket or strawberry pot
- Coarse sand
- Sphagnum peat moss
- 2×8-inch section of drainage material
Step 1: Prep Pips
Soak pips in lukewarm water for two hours. Moisten potting mix with warm water. Cover the pot's bottom with a 1- to 2-inch layer of sand. Add potting mix to just below the pot's lowest pockets. Trim the roots to at least 4 inches with sharp clean, pruners.
Step 2: Plant Pips in Pot
Place pips in the pot with the roots lying on the potting mix and tips barely emerging from a pocket. Fill the first pocket row with pips. Press small handfuls of dampened sphagnum peat moss between pips and pocket tops. Cover roots with potting mix.
Step 3: Add Drainage Tube
Use scissors to cut a 2×8-inch section of drainage material, and stand it in the center of the pot to create a channel that will facilitate watering and drainage. (Alternatively, make a channel by rolling wire mesh into a 2-inch-diameter tube and filling it with gravel.)
Step 4: Finish Potting
Finish planting any remaining pockets and the top opening of the pot. Cover the roots with potting mix. Slowly water the top plantings, allowing moisture to channel throughout the container garden and into the pot's pockets.
Editor's Tip: As the season progresses, your soil may leach out of a strawberry planter—this is normal. Simply refill the planter as needed.