There are five hybrids in the Lilium genus that are most commonly grown as cut flowers:
• Asiatic hybrids (formerly called Mid-Century hybrids)
• Oriental hybrids
• LA hybrids (longiflorum/Asiatic)
• LO hybrids (longiflorum/Oriental)
• OT hybrids (Oriental/Trumpet, Orienpet)
Note: The longiflorum species is the common Easter lily.
All hybrid lilies are the result of crosses between at least two and as many as 12 species in the Liliumgenus.
Depending on hybrid, lilies’ six-petaled blooms range from about 4 inches (Asiatic) to 8 inches (Oriental) in diameter. Relatively new on the market are double-flowered Asiatic and Oriental lilies, which have layers of petals.
Blooms typically number from three to 12 per stem and can be upward,
outward or downward facing. Petals of some species and varietieis 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.
every hue but blue
Hybrid lilies are available in solid colors (with or without speckles) and bicolors (striped, speckled 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; pale green; and whites/ivories/creams/tans.
know no season
Asiatic, Oriental, LA and OT hybrid lilies are available year-round from both domestic and international growers. LO hybrids are newer and have more limited production and availability.
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.
Also, make sure the lilies you purchase are treated with an anti-leaf-yellowing treatment at the grower and/or wholesaler levels as well as an ethylene inhibitor.
Finally, check buds, stems and leaves for bruising, browning, yellowing, mold and rot.
outside the box
Unpack lilies immediately upon their arrival, and check flower quality. Remove all sleeves and stem bindings as well as any foliage that would be under water in storage containers.
If you cannot immediately attend to lilies when they arrive, open the box(es), and place it/them into a floral cooler until you can.
food and drink
Recut stem ends with a sharp blade, removing at least 1 inch of stem, and immediately dip or place stem ends into a hydration solution, then into storage containers half filled with properly proportioned bulb-flower-food solution made with cool nonfluoridated water (some varieties are sensitive to fluoride, which most tap water contains).
If bulb-flower food is not available, place lilies into a holding solution (low-dose flower food) in storge containers. Use a full-dose flower food only in arrangement containers—or in storage containers if you need blooms to open quickly.
Immediately 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 nutrient solution, but refrigeration will slow that process.
Lilies are sensitive to ethylene gas although the degree varies by hybrid type and cultivar. Asiatics are the most sensitive. Exposure to ethylene can cause bud, petal and leaf drop; bud withering; and leaf yellowing.
Make sure your purchases, especially Asiatic hybrids, are treated with an ethylene inhibitor at the grower 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.
Hybrid lilies experience hormone imbalances when they are cut from their bulbs. These imbalances cause premature leaf yellowing, failure of buds to open, loss of color vibrancy and reduced vase lives.
Bulb-flower foods contain naturally occurring plant hormones (or plant growth regulators—PRGs), 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.
Postharvest treatments, formulated for use at the grower and wholesaler levels, also can correct some of these imbalances and reduce leaf yellowing.
facts of life
Four to 11 days is the typical vase life for a stem of cut lilies, depending on type, variety and care. Individual blooms generally last from two to four days each.
Hybrid lilies are members of the Liliaceae (lily) family and are related to daylilies, Gloriosas, lilies-of-the-valley, hyacinths, tulips, stars-of-Bethlehem and Fritillarias among others.
The lilies from which these hybrids are derived are native to Japan and China.
Lily pollen will stain anything it touches, so remove all anthers immediately after each bloom opens, and advise customers to do the same. Whether or not removing anthers shortens lilies’ vase life is a point of contention: Some flower care authorities say that doing so “does” or “can” shorten vase life while others say it does not. Several pollen-free varieties have been introduced in recent years.
If pollen gets on fabric, brush it away 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.