White Oriental lily in mixed bouquetCredit: wordspeller

Floral Arrangements with Lilies

Lilies have been favored in floristry for centuries and continue to be popular today. 

Integrated into bouquets, garlands and corsages, they make a statement in floral design that is bold and undeniable. 

Lilies are incredibly versatile flowers and have a style that is graceful yet dramatic in appearance.

The Use of Lilies in Flower Bouquets

Lilies provide strong focal points when set amongst other cut flowers, and can just as easily create stunning displays on their own. Even when combined with a few simple sprigs of foliage, their elegance is unequalled. 

It comes as no surprise then, that lilies of all colors are one of the most sought-after flowers for weddings. They feature in mixed flower bouquets for birthdays and special occasions, such as Valentine's Day and Mother's Day. 

White lilies, in particular, are a traditional choice for caskets and floral arrangements at memorial ceremonies and funerals, symbolizing the peaceful virtues of tranquility and sympathy.

Close up of white Oriental lilyCredit: wordspeller

Lilies and Florists

When it comes to floristry work, hybrid varieties are utilized by most, if not all, florists in their work. These are lilies that have been bred specifically for disease resistance, new color possibilities and increased longevity in their vase life. Hybrid lilies can be expected to last up to two weeks before they need replacing.

Lilies, of one kind or another, can be purchased from florists and grocery stores, even ordered online from Amazon, most times of the year. Indoor cultivation in large commercial greenhouses allows for reliable and ongoing supply through many months.

Certain types, such as white trumpet lilies (ie Lilium longiflorum hybrids) are 'forced' to grow according to target dates on the calendar. This is in order to fulfill particular seasons that markets demand, ie Easter Lilies for the Easter period (in the northern hemisphere) and Christmas Lilies for Christmas (in the southern hemisphere).

White Oriental lilies in mixed flower bouquetCredit: wordspeller

Oriental and Asiatic Lilies

Other types of lilies with attractive appeal are Oriental hybrids. These are most commonly sold as cut flowers and potted plants, with ‘Stargazer’ being the most well-known lily grown for sales on Mother’s Day.

The 'Stargazer' lily is a very fragrant Oriental hybrid variety that was bred in 1978 by Leslie Woodriff in California. It was named for its large sky-facing blooms and is proving to be a steadfast favorite in the world of floriculture.

Asiatic lilies differ in a number of aspects from Oriental types. They have smaller flowers and are available in a wider range of colors. Despite lack of fragrance, Asiatic hybrids are some of the most popular and most brightest of lilies you can buy.

Ranging from pure yellow, scorching orange to shades of ruby red, soft pink and creamy white, Asiatic hybrids are increasingly bred and grown as dwarf varieties for the potted plant trade, and marketed during the first six months of the year.

An Oriental lily in mixed bouquetCredit: wordspeller

Cut Flower Tips

If you are looking to buy lilies for a vase at home, or perhaps to give to a friend, here are some cut flower tips that may help you receive maximum enjoyment from your flowers.

When choosing lilies: look for tall, strong stems that are undamaged. Avoid bruised or blemished flowers, and select those with several closed buds to provide ongoing color in the following weeks.

After purchasing: cut stems on an angle using a pair of secateurs or a small, sharp knife. Remove any leaves on the lower parts of the stems, before placing your lilies in a deep container of water to soak, prior to arranging with other flowers. For a minimalist look, arrange the lilies directly in a vase with water and/or a sachet of flower preservative.

Flower preservatives: these are optional for bouquets. These are usually available from florists and can be used to prolong the life of blooms by a number of days.

Removing pollen: if the pollen sacs have not been removed from the flowers, gently snip these from the anther stalks with a pair of scissors (or by hand) to prevent pollen stains on clothing, furniture or the flowers themselves.

Remember: when selecting lilies from your own garden, try to leave much of the stem and leaves on the plant. The remaining foliage is a vital energy source for the plant and will be used to produce more lily flowers the following season. Alternatively, remove single flower blooms (with stalks attached) for display in small bud vases.

Next article: Species of Lilies in Famous Paintings