Lily

Common Names: There are three primary groups of Lilium: Oriental Lilies, Asiatic Lilies, Easter Lilies

Botanical names: Lilium, (LIL-ee-um)

Availability: Year round; peak supplies by season

Vase life: 7 to 14 days per stem, 4 to 7 days per bloom

Storage temperatures: 36 - 38 degrees Fahrenheit

Ethylene Sensitive: Yes

Description: Flowers appear on short branches at the end of the stem. Oriental: cup-shaped flowers with elongated petals, 4 to 8 inches across, 3 to 6 flowers on stems 24 to 36 inches long. Asiatic: cup-shaped flowers , 4 to 6 inches across, clusters of 5 to 8 flowers on stems 24 to 36 inches long. Easter: fragrant, long trumpet-shaped blossoms growing sideways from the single vertical stem, 1 to 6 blossoms per stem.

Color: White, cream, reds, pinks, yellows, and bi-colors, some with characteristic markings

Botanical facts: The name is Latin for the flower Lily.

Design notes: These beautiful blossoms work well in mixed seasonal arrangements and more contemporary styled designs. Lilies are excellent focal flowers.

Purchasing hints: Purchase when one or two of the buds are just open and the closed buds showing color and nearing maturity. Avoid stems with yellowing foliage or transparent petals.

Conditioning: Remove all foliage that will be below the water line. Allow one or two leaf clusters near the blossom to remain intact. This will help draw water into the blossom. Break or cut with a sharp knife two to three inches of the stem end. Hydrate in a solution of warm water and commercial floral preservative / floral food for two hours before storage or usage. Re-cut the stems and place in a fresh water solution every two days for the longest life.

Additional notes: Lily pollen can permanently stain clothing. Use gloves when removing anthers. If pollen should get on flower petals, gently brush it off with a chenille stem. If pollen should get on clothing, immediately lift it off by gently touching the pollen with sticky tape. In the past, various flowers were used to prepare remedies in popular medicine. Some served as lucky charms while others were thought to be capable of averting the evil eye. In another historical account we read that people were interested in lilies for their anti-toxic powers and their capacity of curing depressions. In Europe, too, lilies were used as a remedy against a wide range of diseases and ailments right up to the beginning of the last century. However, just as today, people in the past valued the lily for its outstanding beauty as well as its usefulness. A lily has adorned the coat of arms of the kings of France since 1179. King Chlodwig I allegedly received this 'fleur de lys', as it is called in heraldic language, from an angel. But in actual fact his flower wasn't a lily, as the name implies, but an iris. Via Louis XI the motif made its way to the coat of arms of the Medici family, and from there on to the arms of Florence and Tuscany. Interestingly, only the Florentine 'fleur de lys' has stamens like a lily. Like irises and tulips, lilies grow from bulbs. So it's not unlikely that the Dutch botanist Carolus Clusius, who planted the first tulip bulb in the Hortus Botanicus of Leiden, also successfully cultivated the first lily. In Greek poetry, the lily stood for tenderness. It was also referred to as the voice of cicadas or of the muses. There is a Greek myth that tells us how the lily was born from the milk of the goddess Hera. The lily still symbolizes pure, virginal love in the Christian world. The white lily is the prima donna in the world of lilies, a symbol of purity and love on the one hand, and royalty on the other, with powers to heal the sick. In today's permissive 'republican' commercially-driven society, these virtues may have lost some of their former significance, but in a new millennium, we may once again place our hope in the ideals of lilies.