Convallaria lily-of-the-valley

Height: 15-20cm (6-8in)

Planting distance: 7.5-15cm (3-6in)

Features: flowers spring

Soil: moist loam

Site: shade

Type: rhizome (pip)

Convallaria majalis is the only species in this family. In mid to late spring, loose spikes of delicate, white, bell-shaped flowers appear. They have a magnificent scent, which makes them popular as cut flowers. Both the berries, which appear in autumn, and the roots are poisonous.

Lily-ofthe-valley is best planted in large clumps in a cool, shady corner or in a wild garden. It spreads rapidly, so avoid confined spaces or borders where it could overcome more delicate plants.

Also bear in mind that the broad, green leaves which provide such deceptively good ground cover in late spring and early summer become an untidy, decaying yellow and brown mass in late summer. This problem is made worse if the plants are growing in a bright, sunny site.

Cultivation

Grow lily-ofthe-valley in ordinary garden soil containing plenty of leaf mould or compost. The site must be shady.

Plant the crowns singly in early and mid autumn, at least 7.5- 10cm (3-4in) apart, pointed end upwards, just below the soil surface.

When the leaves die down in . summer, top dress with leafmould, compost or peat to encourage continuous flowering the following year. Avoid disturbing the roots except when you want to propagate.

Propagation: Lift and divide the lily-ofthe-valley rhizomes (often referred to as pips) any time between mid autumn and early spring. Replant 15cm (6in) apart, just below the surface, then apply a top dressing of compost and leafmould and water well.

Pests and diseases: Swift moth caterpillars sometimes eat the rhizomes of established plants. In wet sites, a grey mould fungus can develop on the plants.

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