Saturday, January 14, 2012

The "Scoop" on Star Gazer Lilies

[This posting is in part from the last Newsletter sent in December and since the question still comes up, we thought it appropriate to add it to our Blog for easy reference. -Dianna]

The heirloom variety 'Star Gazer' has become the most recognizable name for Oriental lilies.  For years, when florists would sell a fragrant lily, they would call it 'Star Gazer' even if it was a totally different clone.  In fact, the name has now become the generic term for Oriental lilies, like Kleenex® for facial tissue or Band-aids® for plastic personal bandages. 

At flower and garden shows we finally began asking, "What COLOR of Star Gazer would you like?" 
Because we realized that most people really had no idea what the original clone looked like and simply remembered the fragrance, it was easier to suggest all the Oriental lilies that smelled good and to let them make a choice.  Over a period of 15 to 20 years, there have been as many as 5 or 6 different clones being sold out of Holland as the original 'Star Gazer' - some good, some not so good.  

All purebred Oriental Lilies have a similar "spicy-sweet" fragrance and if you remember a 'Star Gazer' lily in your wedding bouquet more than a dozen years ago, chances are it was an Oriental lily.  The new OT (Orienpet or Oriental-Trumpet hybrids) have a more perfumed fragrance, such as the heavy scent of Easter Lilies in the store in spring.  This scent is lighter than Lilium regale and has very little essence of spice.  If a strongly scented lily was in your floral arrangement in the past 5 or 6 years and it was YELLOW, then the lily was probably one of the OT hybrids 'Conca d'Or', 'Belladonna' etc. 

Currently, both Purebred Orientals and Orienpets are being used interchangeably in the floral world.  Hybridization of purebred Oriental lilies is in decline as forcing houses are embracing the new OT hybrid because the flowers tend to hold up better in cold storage.  The increased substance of the flowers means they take a bit longer to open than pure Orientals.  When we use both kinds for the flower shows, in order to create the "full bloom" extravaganza of our lovely mass arrangements, we set the OT types into a warm room about three days before we bring the Orientals out of the cooler so that everyone is fully blooming.

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