cut flower of the month
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Asiatic hybrid lily
(formerly called Mid-Century hybrids)
• Oriental hybrid lily
• LA (longiflorum/Asiatic) hybrid lily
• LO (longiflorum/Oriental) hybrid lily
• OT (Oriental/trumpet) hybrid lily
Depending on the type of hybrid, lilies’ six-petaled blooms
flare open, ranging from about 4 inches (Asiatic) to 8 inches
(Oriental) in diameter. The blooms, which typically number from
three to 12 per stem, can be upward facing to nodding, and
the petals can be strongly
recurved. Radiating from the core of the blooms are the stamens,
which consist of the stemlike filaments that support the
Hybrid lily stems, which range in length from about 20
to 40 inches, have spirally arranged or whorled leaves that vary
from narrow and grasslike to short and broad.
Many Oriental, OT and LO hybrid varieties are fragrant,
with some hybrid types and cultivars being stronger than others.
Asiatic and LA hybrids generally have slight or no fragrance.
Hybrid lilies are available in solid colors (with or without
speckles) and bicolors (speckled, striped and/or splashed). The
color range includes pinks, reds and burgundies; oranges, from
red-orange and rust to peach/apricot and salmon/coral; yellows,
from pastel to bright; and whites/ivories/creams/tans.
Four to 11 days is the
typical vase life for a stem of cut lilies, depending on the
type of hybrid, variety and care. Individual blooms generally
last from two to four days each.
Asiatic, Oriental, LA and OT hybrid lilies are available
year-round from both domestic and international growers. LO
hybrids are the newest lilies and are currently in limited
production, which makes their availability limited, as well.
Unpack lilies immediately upon their arrival, and check flower
quality. Remove all sleeves and stem bindings as well as any
foliage from the stems that would be under water in storage
Next, recut stem ends with a sharp blade, removing at
least 1 inch of stem. Immediately after cutting, dip or place
stem ends into a hydration
solution to help the
flowers absorb water more quickly and easily. Then place them
into containers half filled with properly proportioned
bulb-flower-food solution made with cool or lukewarm
nonfluoridated water (some varieties are sensitive to fluoride,
which most tap water contains).
After processing, place lilies into a floral cooler at 33 F to
36 F, and allow them to hydrate for at least two hours before
using or selling them. Some types and varieties of hybrid lilies
can begin opening almost immediately after being placed into
bulb-flower-food solution, but refrigeration will slow that
Hybrid lilies are sensitive to ethylene gas although the degree
varies by hybrid type and varieties. Asiatic hybrids are the
most sensitive. Exposure to ethylene causes petal and/or leaf
drop, bud drop or withering, and leaf yellowing.
Make sure your purchases, especially Asiatic hybrids,
are treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the grower level or
during shipping. In addition, keep them away from sources of
ethylene such as ripening fruit, decaying flowers and foliage,
automobile exhaust, and tobacco smoke.
Instruct customers to recut the stems and to change the vase
solution every other day using the bulb-flower nutrient you
provide. Also advise them to remove blooms as they fade and
leaves as they yellow, to keep their flowers out of direct
sunlight and warm drafts, and to carefully remove anthers as
soon as blooms open.
Lily pollen will stain anything it touches, so remove all
anthers immediately after each bloom opens, and advise customers
to do the same. Contrary to a popular
myth, removing anthers does not shorten lilies’ vase life. Some
pollen-free varieties have been introduced in recent years.
If pollen gets on fabric, brush it away lightly and
gently with a soft brush, piece of tissue or chenille stem. Do
not wet the fabric or touch the stain with your hands. If any
pollen color remains, place the fabric outside in the sunshine
until the stain disappears.
Hybrid lilies experience hormone imbalances when they are cut
from their bulbs. These imbalances cause premature leaf
yellowing, buds to fail to open, loss of color vibrancy and
reduced vase lives.
Bulb-flower foods contain naturally occurring plant
hormones (or plant growth regulators), and they have a lower
concentration of sugar than standard flower foods, which can
aggravate leaf yellowing. Ideally, bulb-flower-food solutions
should be prepared with nonfluoridated water. (For additional information on
leaf yellowing and hormone imbalances, see below and “Purchasing
Tips,” No. 2.)
In addition to hormone imbalances, leaf yellowing can result
from a too high concentration of sugar in flower-food solution
(more than 3 percent), exposure to ethylene, too low storage
temperatures and/or poor growing conditions.
PREMATURE FLOWER BUD DEATH
Causes include exposure to ethylene, refrigeration at too low
temperatures and/or cold storage for too many days.
PETAL, BUD AND/OR LEAF DROP
The most common cause is exposure to ethylene.
FAMILY matters Hybrid lilies are
members of the Liliaceae (lily) family and are
related to lilies-of-the-valley, daylilies,
Fritillarias, Gloriosas, hyacinths,
stars-of-Bethlehem and tulips, among others.
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The lilies from which these hybrids are derived are
native to Japan and China.
Choose lilies that have at least one or two fully developed
and colored—but unopened—buds per stem. Avoid bunches with a
number of open blooms.
Make sure the lilies you purchase are treated with an
anti-leaf-yellowing treatment developed specifically for
lilies (e.g., Chrysal RVB, Floralife® PAL) at the grower or
wholesaler levels—in addition to being treated with an
Check flower buds, stems and leaves for bruising, browning,
yellowing, mold and rot.
Some information provided by:
Botanica, by R.G. Turner Jr. and Ernie Wasson
Chain of Life Network® ,
Dictionary of Plant Names, by Allen J. Coombes
Hortus Third by Liberty Hyde Bailey and Ethel Zoe Bailey
SAF Flower & Plant Care, by Terril A. Nell, Ph.D. and Michael S.