The very word “lily” is almost as pretty as the flowers itself. With large, graceful blooms, tall stems and a heavenly scent, lilies have been a floral favorite for eons. Lilies appear in works of art, are symbolic features in flags and coats of arms, and were an expression of love during the Victorian era.
There are many wonderful types of lilies to choose from. Asiatic lilies come in vibrant solid shades of yellow, orange, burgundy, pink or white, with upright-facing flowers that make them particularly easy to arrange in a vase. Asiatic-Oriental lilies are a hybrid developed for the floral industry that feature the bold colors of Asiatic lilies but with somewhat larger flowers. The gorgeous pink and white Stargazer lily is an Oriental variety with tiny freckle-like spots on the petals.
Lilies make a wonderful cut flower. While they are often seen in the store with closed petals, waiting for the blooms to open is part of the delight. Depending on variety, each stem can have as many as eight buds that open from the bottom of the stem and up — so you’ll enjoy their grand display for days and days when cared for correctly. Just follow these steps:
- Give them a fresh cut. Carefully remove the cellophane wrapping. Place the stems in a sink full of lukewarm water and cut off about a half-inch, at an angle, with a sharp knife or scissors. This opens up capillaries in the stems to help them take in water more readily.
- Remove leaves as necessary. You don’t want any foliage below the water line once you fill your vase.
- Place them in a vase of fresh water. Make sure your vase is tall and sturdy enough so that the height and heft of the stems don’t cause it to tip over.
- Feed them. If your flowers came with a packet of cut-flower preservative, add it to the vase.
- Keep them out of direct sunlight. Lilies need sun to grow, but once cut, they’ll do best in a cool place out of direct sunlight.
- Change the water. Keep the flowers looking fresher longer by replacing the water in the vase every few days.
- Remove the pollen. It’s best to remove the pollen you’ll see on the tips of the flowers’ stamens (the little whisker-y things sticking out from the center of each bloom). Just pinch it off over the sink with your fingers or use a pair of scissors. You don’t want any pollen to get on the flower’s petals as it can eat away at them and shorten the time your flowers will look their best. The pollen can be messy and stain certain surfaces if it falls off on its own.
- Enjoy! If you follow these steps, your lilies should last a week or even two.
Look for fresh, fragrant, easy-to-care-for lily bouquets in the Floral Department — they’re perfect for any occasion, or no occasion at all!
Pro tip: Lilies can be toxic to pets — especially cats. Best to keep them out of reach.