The lily family is large and contains many species of flowering plants grown from underground bulbs or rhizomes. Lililes are popular both as garden plants and as cut flowers due to their long bloom life, upright habit and strong stems. With proper care, lily flowers can remain fresh and last on the plant or in a vase for well over one week.
Harvest lily flowers for use in flower arrangements by cutting the stem down to the main trunk stem of the plant. Immediately place in a container filled with cool water, and remove any foliage that falls under the water line to prevent bacterial growth in the water.
Condition cut lily flowers by preparing a clean vase filled with cool water and floral preservative. In lieu of commercial floral preservative add roughly 2 drops of household chlorine bleach and 1 tsp. of sugar to the vase water, and stir or swish to combine. Re-cut the lily flower stem, and place it into the prepared vase water. Change the water in the vase every day for optimal lifespan of the cut lily blooms.
Remove the translucent or russet colored pollen sacs or stamens from the tips of the anthers that protrude from the center of each oriental, asiatic or day lily bloom. Do this for both garden growing and cut lily flowers. Reach into each bloom just as it begins to open with your bare fingers or a facial tissue, and pull out the stamens without brushing them against the flower petals. Removing the pollen sacs will prolong the life of the bloom and prevent permanent stain damage to surfaces and clothes that come into contact with the pollen.
Water garden lilies in bloom regularly so that they are not under drought stress during this period. Fertilize with a good quality granular bulb fertilizer at least twice a year according to label directions to maximize flower performance.
Refrain from touching the lily blooms or petal surfaces with your fingers as the natural oils, bacteria and acquired debris on them can be deposited on the flower discoloring it and hastening its life. This is particularly a problem with white lily flowers such as calla lilies and Casablanca lilies.