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hybrid lily

Hyacinth - February 2010(printable PDF)
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Lilium x hybrida
(LIL-ee-um HIGH-bri-duh)

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 pollen-bearing anthers.
     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.

vase-life extenders


     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 containers.
     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 process.

     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.

     Causes include exposure to ethylene, refrigeration at too low temperatures and/or cold storage for too many days.

     The most common cause is exposure to ethylene.


  fun facts  

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.

HOME SWEET HOME The lilies from which these hybrids are derived are native to Japan and China.

purchasing tips

  • 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 ethylene inhibitor.

  • 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. Reid, Ph.D.

Super Floral Retailing •• • Copyright 2010
Florists' Review Enterprises, Inc.