One of the most popular flowers, lilies are known to bruise easily, so be sure to handle them with care. When you receive your lilies, make a diagonal cut on each stem about an inch long; this will help the stems absorb water more efficiently. Remove any foliage from the stems so that there are no leaves underwater. Lilies have longevity, so for maximum enjoyment be sure to use cut-flower food in the water - lilies only require about the half the food needed for other flowers. Their blooms open in succession and you can snip off spent flowers close to the main stem. Lily pollen can stain clothing and furniture, so carefully remove the anthers (the orange pollen-coated tips at the end of the stamens) with tissues before displaying your bouquet.
The elegant lily is appreciated throughout the world and stands for royalty, purity and rebirth. It's the Chinese symbol for "mother" and serves as the national flower of Italy. In the United States, lilies are given on 30th wedding anniversaries, symbolizing beauty, pride and devotion. With an array of hues spanning the color spectrum, each shade has its own meaning. The popular white lily symbolizes purity and innocence while pink lilies stand for ambition and support during rough times. Red lilies, as with most red blooms, stands for passion and love, and are often used at weddings. Yellow and gold flowers symbolize healing and good health, making them the perfect choice for a get-well bouquet.
Because lilies symbolize innocence and rebirth, they're a favored choice for funerals. It has been said that lilies foster the idea that, after death, your loved one is in a peaceful place. Christians believe that the Virgin Mary's tomb was covered in lilies, representing virginity and purity. The Chinese believe these fragrant flowers have a soothing effect on the body, which may also explain why they are used during times of grief.