When you purchase or receive cut lilies in a vase, the amount of care you're willing to give them and thought you devote to their placement can make the difference between enjoying them for a few days, or more than two weeks.
Fill your sink or a bucket with lukewarm water. Remove the lilies from the vase and place the stems in the water.
Cut 1 to 2 inches from the bottom of each stem, cutting at a 45-degree angle with a sharp, clean knife, working with the stems under water. The diagonal cut provides more surface area on the cut end of the flower while cutting underwater prevents air bubbles from blocking water from being pulled up the stem to keep the flowers hydrated.
Strip the leaves that will be under the level of the water in the vase, leaving at least four sets of leaves above the water line to provide nutrition to the lily buds that still need to open and to help draw water up into the stem to keep the flowers fresh. Any leaves left under the water can rot, generating bacteria in the water that can block the water from being pulled up the stem, as well as make the water cloudy.
Fill a clean vase with water.
Add a packet of floral preservative to the water or create your own by adding 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon sugar and 1/2 teaspoon chlorine bleach to at least 1 quart of water in the vase.
Place the flowers back in the vase and place the vase in cool area out of direct sun and drafts.
Clip the anthers from flowers with scissors as they open. Anthers are crescent-shaped structures covered with red-brown pollen that surround the stamen. The pollen can stain tablecloths, furniture or clothing when you touch it when wet. Dry pollen can be brushed away.
Remove leaves and flowers as they fade. Change the water every two days.
Things You Will Need
Warning Keep cut lilies out of reach of cats. Simply biting into a lily leaf or petal, licking pollen from its paws or drinking water from a vase of lilies can cause a cat to develop often-fatal kidney failure, according to University of California veterinarians.