Lilies' (lilium's) large prominent flowers make them a dramatic addition to any bouquet and they are a common sight at both weddings and funerals, with their large petals and sweet fragrance making them ideal for larger displays.
Lilies belong to the perennial family and can grow as tall as 6ft high in the right conditions. While many people imagine snow white petals when they think of lilies, they actually come in a range of shades including yellows, oranges, pinks, reds and purples.
As well as being beautiful to look at, lilies have often been associated with having magical qualities, while some Elizabethan medical texts recommended using them to treat fevers, wounds and arthritis.
Lilies are native to the Northern Hemisphere in Asia, Europe and North America and have been popular since ancient times.
Legend has it the lily was the flower of Hera, wife of the Greek god Zeus, who formed it from the milk of her breast. However, the Romans had a different story; claiming that Venus, the goddess of beauty was so jealous of the flower's loveliness that she altered its appearance, adding the huge pistils in its centre.
1. Tiger Lilies: Sweet-smelling tiger lilies stand out thanks to their bright orange colour and tiger-esque spots. 2. Stargazer Lilies: This type of oriental lily are known for their fragrant perfume and bold pink colour. They are a popular choice in cut bouquets. 3. Easter Lilies: You know it's spring when you receive a fresh bunch of Easter lilies. These stunning white blooms feature trumpet-like white petals and have a fragrant scent. 4. Lily of the Valley: The white, delicate flowers found on lilies of the valley make them a popular choice for bridal bouquets. Unlike most varieties of lily, the flowers are bell-shaped and face downwards. 5. Calla Lilies: Trumpet-like Calla lilies are among the most common varieties of lilies and come in shades of white, pink and red. Technically, callas are not 'true lilies'.
When cutting lilies, always use a sharp knife, a dull blade can crush the stem and reduce the amount of water the flower soaks up.
If you are going to be carrying a bouquet of lilies, keep the flowers out of water for around 30 minutes beforehand to avoid the flowering stems dripping and leaving stains on your clothes.
To lengthen the lifespan of a cut lily, avoid touching the flower heads as much as possible.
Warning - Lilies can be poisonous to cats and other pets
Expert tips, from expert florists.
Did you know?
Lily bulbs are edible as root vegetables, although some species have a very bitter taste. They are commonly found in Chinese and Japanese cuisine.
The ancient Greeks used lilies as a symbol for tenderness, while Christians used the flower to represent purity.
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