Choosing Lily Stems for the Lily Show

Before cutting any stems, it’s a good idea to have a look through the lily patch and identify the stems which might be appropriate to take to the show. Straight stems and nice looking foliage are a good starting point. Also check for insect damage and evidence of disease. Remember that in order to be judged in the show, at least one flower must be open to the typical shape and form of that species or cultivar.

Cutting and Transporting
Choosing stems often takes a bit of time, so it is a good idea to plan to cut your stems the day before you are going to transport them to the show. Once you’ve chosen the stems you’d like to take to the show, use a sharp knife or to cut the stem, leaving at least a third of the stem with healthy leaves on it to make strength for the bulb for subsequent year’s bloom.

Stems may be cut 3-4 days in advance of the show and stored in a cool basement or moist cooler.

Transporting lily stems to the show can be tricky. It’s important to try to keep any part of the flowers or leaves from breaking off, and to minimize the rubbing or dropping of pollen onto the flowers.

Some folks use empty wine bottles, partly filled with water and then placed in a box with spacers inserted between the bottles to prevent the lilies from contacting. Others use a pail with a styrofoam insert that has holes made through it so the stems are supported, with their cut ends in the water at the bottom of the pail. Even laying the stems carefully on the back seat of the vehicle, or placing them carefully in a pail with a bit of water in the
bottom usually works reasonable well.

Entering the Stems in the Show
example of lily stem entered in lily showIn the show schedule, the times during which entries into the show are accepted are outlined. Entry tags and stem holders are provided.

At right is a very nicely staged stem. Flowers on the bottom tier are open but not faded, showing the typical form for this cultivar. Foliage is clean and healthy, with the foliage has been removed below the water line. The stem is propped up with a piece of rhubarb in the top of the stem holder so it sits very straight.

Be sure that the leaves and flowers are clean and dust free. A small brush or dry Q-tip can be used to remove pollen stains from the flowers. If leaf edges are brown, they can be neatly trimmed following the natural contour of the leaf. When placing the stem in the holder, ensure that there is clean, healthy foliage displayed above the container, and that foliage that would sit below the water line is removed. A small piece of rhubarb can be used to wedge into the stem holder to hold the stem upright.

A few tools can aid with staging the stem: small scissors for trimming leaves, Q-tips and a camel’s hair brush for cleaning, as well as cotton swabs and tweezers for those hard to reach spots. Pre-printed address labels are great to use if you have many entries as it saves time filling out the entry tags.

Staging the lily stems properly enhances a good stem. Trim a tall, ungainly stem; raise a short stem and anchor it with a piece of rhubarb. If you are not sure, just ask as there is always someone there that will help.

by Barbara Adams-Eichendorf (from CPLS Newsletter June) 2018