Is It Really Necessary to Emasculate Easter Lilies?

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Do you really need to emasculate Easter lily flowers? Source: williamsonwitness.wordpress.com

There’s a persistent and long-held belief that you have to remove the anthers (the orange structures that emerge from the center of the flower) from Easter lily blooms (Lilium longiflorum). But how true is it?

In fact, it’s both true and false. Here’s an explanation:

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Easter lily pollen can stain fabrics. If that’s your fear, cut away! Source: Katrina Wiese, Wikimedia Commons

It’s true if you’re afraid of stains.

Orange lily pollen easily stains natural fabrics (tablecloths, clothes, curtains, etc.). So if you plan to place your Easter lily on a valuable fabric tablecloth, yes, it would be better to remove the anthers … at the sink, not once the pot is on the tablecloth!

It’s false if you fear that leaving the anthers on the flower will reduce its longevity.

The idea that removing Easter lily anthers extends the life of the flower is simply an old garden myth that refuses to die. You won’t gain even 5 minutes more flower life by cutting them off! Unfortunately, this false information is still conveyed by people who really should know better and, yes, I mean you, florists and garden center employees. People, this is the 21st century! Spreading 19th century myths is definitely not to your credit!

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Without the contrasting orang anthers, emasculated Easter lily flowers lose much of their beauty. Source: behnkes.com

It’s also false if you find the anthers attractive.

I do. I find an emasculated lily, white on white, seriously lacking in charm. The contrast of the orange anthers on a flower with petals of such a pure white gives the entire bloom punch. And I’ve never had any trouble finding a sheet of clear plastic to put over that valuable tablecloth to prevent stains!

And it’s false if you’re a laidback gardener!

Since lily flowers do not all open all at once, but rather one after the other over several days, if you want to remove the anthers, you’ll have a good week of carrying the pot to the sink, clipping off the anthers and carrying it back to its place of honor. It’s boring and repetitive … and surely you have better things to do! Just free yourself from the weight of perfectionism and learn to appreciate the natural beauty of Easter lilies rather than disfiguring them.

Happy Easter!

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