Fav lilies for bouquets?

phylrae(z5a/centralNYS)November 3, 2005

I am growing orientals, asiatics, some trumpet-aurelian hybrids and some Orienpets. I am wondering if they are all good for cutting for bouquets (I am selling bouquets locally), or should I be looking at the LA hybrids too? Trouble is, every LA Hybrid I have seen looks kind of boring to me...but I know they are supposed to be sturdier, right? What kind do florists grow for market? What names specifically, would you suggest?

Thanks! :0) Phyl

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Jeanne_in_Idaho(z5 N.Idaho)

Almost any kind of lily that's tall enough to cut is my favorite. I don't tend to grow a lot of plain oranges or pinks as those are very common and cheap at the supermarket. For the same reason, I don't grow Stargazer much, but all other Orientals that are tall enough are fair game. As long as it's tall enough, how much you like its looks, and how well you can combine that color with the rest of your flowers, are good criteria.

I find that the LA hybrids aren't a whole lot stronger than plain Asiatics, whose petals are easily knocked off when open. If you'll be selling them, cutting with only one or two flowers open helps that somewhat - if the petals on the open flowers get knocked off, at least there will be more flowers. Another option is to sell them with more flowers open but only in arranged bouquets, with the lily stem in the center, to protect it. Harvesting them open, without knocking the petals off, is tricky.

Orientals and trumpets are somewhat tougher. Trumpets and down-facing flowers can be more of a challenge to arrange than upward-facing types. Also, you might want to beware of varieties that get just too big for the bouquets that you sell. For instance, I grow a bright yellow Asi-florum called Golden Tycoon that produced 15+ large flowers per stem at two years old. Only the hugest bouquets can accomodate that. One stem is a bouquet all by itself, in fact the flowers are so big and so close together, it's hard to arrange anything else with it. I've found that there aren't that many customers who like single-stem bouquets. Then there are some very open types, like Arabesque, an Orienpet, that make great big gorgeous downward-facing flowers spaced very well apart on the stems. Gorgeous and airy and graceful in the garden, but too big and too far apart for arranging. A single stem on a two-year-old plant ends up being a two feet+ wide and very gangly. If you can see photos when you're shopping, try to notice how sparsely arranged on the stems the flowers are.

Bear in mind that you should leave about half to two-thirds the stem when you cut, unless you pull the entire bulb, so it's best to choose varieties that will be twice as tall as the stem length you are looking for. Florists want ultra-long stems but you needn't be limited by that unless you plan to sell to florists. On some of the varieties that get too big too fast, like Golden Tycoon, you can slow them down somewhat by cutting off a larger proportion of the stem.

There are hundreds and hundreds of good varieties. I've listed some that have worked out well for me below, but they are only a few of so many good varieties. The only one I've ever grown that I find simply unusable is a pale pink Asiatic name Pink Superior, which isn't. Superior, that is. The flower is a nice pale pink the day it opens, but starts turning ugly shades of brown and gray the very next day. There is generally only one flower, or none, on the stalk that looks nice. I think it is a florist version, and maybe the flowers look better when cut with no flowers open, then opened in the cooler, but for someone growing them outside, they're a waste of time and space.

I've noticed that the general public often refers to any Oriental lily as a Stargazer. I think the growers impregnated that name on their minds a little too well! Sometimes it helps if you educate the customers that ALL Oriental lilies are fragrant and long-lasting like Stargazer.

Asiatics and Asi-florums: High Class (red), Gironde (barely-tall-enough yellow), Volendam (orange), Sorpressa (white), Centerfold (white and burgundy), Salmon Classic (peach), Fangio (purplish red), Ercolano (white), and yes, even Golden Tycoon, but only because I did sell some very big arrangements.

L.O. Triumphator -it's expensive but WONDERFUL!

Orientals: Muscadet, Salmon Jewels, Aubade, Boogie Woogie, Chambertin, Willeke Alberti (a pristine pink-and-white), Casablanca, Siberia, and no doubt I'm forgetting plenty others. Stargazer is a good cut but I only grow a few for reasons stated above. Dizzy is impressive by itself, but I've found it hard to combine with other colors.

Those are only the ones I've grown and remember at the moment. They're no better than hundreds of others.


    Bookmark   November 5, 2005 at 12:07PM
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Noni Morrison

Be aware that SOME lilies are too fragrant for SOME people. Look at B and D lilies and they will mention that with some or the orientals. I got the same reaction to some of the OT's from some customers in offices.

HEre I have found the LA hybrids much healthier and long lasting then the asiatics...by that I mean they last longer in my garden and multiply like crazy. There are many wonderful interbred lilies out there...Check out what The Lily Garden has to offer.

Tiger lilies are very popular with our customers too, especially the peach and apricot colors. Let the stems bloom out some if there are too many flowers on it...enjoy it yourself until it gets down to a usable "tip"! Try a spray of tiger lilies mixed with roses and and other flowers...Really lovely! And don't forget the rubrum lilies in pink and white for the end of the season!THey will take me into September most year.

I LOVE lilies!

    Bookmark   November 5, 2005 at 12:20PM
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Phyl's question was: should I be looking at the LA hybrids too? Simply put the answer is yes. This variety fills the gap between Asiatic and Oriental. These lilies also have a scent that is not overpowering. Catalog pictures do not do these lilies justice. They are beautiful. We grow many, many lilies for cutflower production. And, generally we always love the ones we are cutting at the moment. And, then we move on. My suggestion would be to try some. I think they would be smashing with your roses. If the lily is the Bride in the bouquet; try having the Bridesmaids (your roses) match. And, then have a Gatecrasher take the bouquet from pretty to WOW.

I would also like to correct a misconception that shows up now and again in some of the posts on this forum. It was stated: Bear in mind that you should leave about half to two-thirds the stem when you cut. It has been our own experience, and everything we have read on this subject, and every conference we have attended that it is only necessary to leave one-third of the stem when cutting. This leaves enough for the bulb to store energy to produce next season.

There is a very large cutting edge grower here in Michigan. They grow potted bulbs for some of the large grocery stores and chain stores in the upper midwest. We recently toured their facility. They acquire their bulbs from several sources. Actually, some of the same vendors from which we purchase our bulbs; and, it was interesting to see some of the same lilies we have grown as cutflowers for market. The tags listing the variety and vendor name were on the crates. The varieties were neither very common and cheap.

    Bookmark   November 6, 2005 at 5:36AM
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Dear Jeanne, LizaLily and Flowerfarmer :0)

Thank you, all 3 of you, SO MUCH! I have really come to respect your responses to my many questions over the past year or so. It is so nice to have people who are knowledgeable to speak with, especially when I don't grow on a large scale. What I am doing (as always)is printing up what you have to say so I can refer to it all again and again in the future. I have only sold 4 bouquets so far this summer, but everyone who has received them has been WOW'd and I guess my best advertising is word of mouth. I appreciated you naming the specific cultivars you grow, and the encouragement to try the LA Hybrids (not knowing the photos online don't capture their real beauty).

Being a small grower, the only lilies I have so far are a few of each of these:

Cathedral Windows
Electric Orange
Honey Queen
Iowa Rose
"Purple Reign"-it was SUPPOSED to be this, but isn't :0(
Raspberry on a Whip
Tiger Babies
White Stargazer
Some unname asiatics I've had a long time

Newly planted this fall:
10 mixed orientals from Buggycrazy (HUGE, BTW)

Amethyst Temple/White Flower Farm
Anaconda " " "

American Heritage (The Bulb Crate)
American Spirit
Visa Versa (coming in spring)
8 mixed Orienpets J&P

I gave my friend the Tiger Lilies I had purchased last year, because I was afraid I shouldn't keep them in case of that virus I had subsequently read about that is often spread by aphids.....maybe I should have kept them, huh? I think they are so pretty.

I can't wait til next year! :0) Phyl

Hey, Flowerfarmer, which flowers) do you consider the "GATECRASHERS"? Love the terminology-it really helps me. :0) Phyl

    Bookmark   November 6, 2005 at 6:55AM
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