EVERY LILY HAS ITS THORNS ... ER, ANTHERS
One of our favorite luxuries is keeping fresh flowers in the house. (I attribute this Uppity indulgence to the inspiration from very un-uppity First Lady Laura Bush's decorating talents, whose signature pink and salmon-colored roses consistently brought a fresh, uplifting contrast to the clean, classic cream palette of the Oval Office.)
Flowers freshen the space and brighten the spirit, so we make an effort to keep seasonal blooms around. And it goes without saying that one of our favorites is the stunning and fragrant namesake Lily. But while every rose may have its thorns, it turns out that every lily has its ... anthers? Anthers are the pollen-covered "antennas" that not only help the lily reproduce, but scatter a reddish-orange mess everywhere that stains anything it touches. I've seen many a white tablecloth be sacrificed to the Stargazer lily gods, whose appetites for fine linen are never satiated. But we have a solution to the decorating dilemma, so before you put away the Porthault, here's how we made our latest lily bouquet long-lasting and anther-free:
2-3 lily stems ($3.99 at our local Publix)
ornamental ginger bouquet ($6.99 at Whole Foods)
urn or water vase (8-12 in. tall is best)
Hold your lilies upside down over the trash can. Using your sewing scissors, snip off the lily's anthers. With your kitchen shears, trim off a few inches of each stem at an angle (technically, this should be done with a sharp knife to avoid crushing the stems, but I'd cut myself and so whatever). Add water and flower food (or substitute 1/2 tsp. of sugar) to your vase and arrange your stems. If your lilies have not yet bloomed, you can snip the anthers and catch them in a paper towel after the flower opens. Snipping the anthers will also prolong the life of the flowers because it intercepts the pollination process and preserves the flower in a "youthful" stage.
For us, the lily's staining power is our foremost concern, but as an inter-species gesture of goodwill, we do want to point out that all parts of the flower are highly toxic to cats and therefore should probably be avoided entirely (unlike cats, dogs are not susceptible to serious lily poisoning, but all plant parts should still be kept out of paw's reach).
Sorry, Aubrey ... no lilies for you!