Acapulco Lily Extravaganza

Acapulco Lily Extravaganza

Country:

Ecuador

Featured Flower Species:

Acapulco Lilies, Bells of Ireland, Green Amaranthus

The last glimmers of a vibrant summer are nearing, but instead of thinking of the inevitable chill of fall and winter, savor the breathtaking color and passionate fragrance of our Acapulco lilies, as they will certainly give you warmth. You can count on this Oriental Hybrid to fill your whole room with an intense and intoxicating fragrance! The Acapulco lily possesses one of the most flamboyant personalities in the world of lilies. It is hard to compete with Acapulco's spectacular light pink hues fading to rich hot pinks at the centers, and their long, graceful stems sporting several flowers. So to complement Acapulco's striking beauty, we selected two very different green flowers with unusual textures that won't even try to vie for center stage.

We are sure you'll enjoy these unique varieties, and they are sure to solicit lots of questions from your guests. We have included Green Amaranthus, a tender annual that is native to India, the Philippines and other warm countries. It will dramatically cascade down your vase, providing a charming base to your arrangement. The Bells of Ireland, a symbol of good luck, are hardy annuals with pale green bell-shaped calyces formed along green stems. And the tiny white flowers that are surrounded by the green calyces add just a hint of color to this otherwise all green flower. The overall effect is almost like the flowers are dancing to a rhythmic beat, with the bouquet components reaching up, out and down.

In general, lilies are symbolic of the purity of the heart, with a host of meanings based on hue. For example, white lily represents innocence and purity with a blend of sweetness and majesty. The tiger lily represents wealth—a bit odd in our contemporary world, since we see them all over the East growing wild and quite homeless along the country roads. We are told the yellow lily denotes gratitude and gaiety. Our best guess is that Acapulco stands for PASSION.

If you're a history buff, you have already noticed that lilies are often depicted on ancient Greek pottery and featured in literature and religions as diverse as pagan myths and the Christian Bible! Today, lilies are enjoying a renaissance of recognition. In Italy and France, they are among the most fashionable of flowers. In America, their popularity has skyrocketed in recent years. Modern hybrids have combined with classic favorites to create a myriad of choices for every sense and sensibility. Luxurious and sophisticated as the finest silks and satins, yet affordable enough for everyday elegance, today's lilies are fun, fashionable, and ready to tastefully civilize the most discerning of modern lifestyles.

Originally lilies were, like so many other flowers, found growing wild in Asia, Europe and North America. They must have been pretty established before the continents broke apart. Many species of lilies were considered difficult to cultivate and often had unpredictable growing patterns. Around 1925, lily growers started breeding new varieties that were healthier, hardier, and easier to grow than the original species.

The Acapulco Lily shares its name with a region on the southern curve of Mexico’s Pacific Coast. Acapulco is a wonderful place to explore all the wonders and beauty of the tropics. It boasts a cornucopia of plant and animal species that are especially adapted to two different climactic zones: high mountain ranges and low savannah. The Southern Sierra Madres brush the coastline right at Acapulco. Up in the mountains you will find deciduous forest and temperate climates. Many of Mexico’s indigenous peoples still live in villages that dot these mountain ridges. And down near sea level, the terrain is a tropical savannah, which is very moist during summer months and dry in the winter. Here you will find jungles, fresh water lagoons, and, along the unpopulated areas of the rocky coast to the south of Acapulco, small virginal beaches.

Special Care Is Warranted – In addition to following our flower care instructions sheet, please note these special directions: Fill a container with lukewarm water, and add our fresh flower food at half the recommended strength. Lilies like to "eat" light. Also, place lilies away from bowls of fruit. As fruit ripens, it produces ethylene gas, which can shorten the vase life of some flowers. Lilies are particularly sensitive to this gas.

Bells of Ireland are the common name for Molucella laevis. Native to western Asia, the genus Molucella gets its name from the Indonesian Molucca Islands, which were once mistakenly thought to be the flower's native range. Actually, the Bells are native to the eastern Mediterranean region, primarily Syria. We think they took their name based on the rich and vibrant green color. Chances are that the good luck stories just came along for the ride. Bells of Ireland is a lightly scented plant that grows 24 to 36 inches tall. The 1- to 2-inch, white-veined green bells that cling closely to stems are not really flowers but enlarged calyxes—the outer leaves that appear at the base of most flowers. The true flowers, tiny, fragrant, and white, are deep within the bells.

An excellent line-flower, Bells of Ireland make a great addition to any arrangement, but they're especially effective when used in all-foliage and contemporary arrangements. These flowers will also add interest to your dried flower arrangements for winter. Dry them in a cool, dark, airy location, and pick the sparse, prickly-textured leaves off the stems so that the bells become more conspicuous; their color will fade to light tan. A word of caution: be careful of the small thorns below each leaf. These annuals have a vase life of 7-10 days.

These tender annuals are natives of India, the Philippines and other warm countries. They are erect-growing plants, ranging from 2 to 8 feet high. Their leaves are long or oval (from 2 to 4 inches long), and they start out green or dark red, then change to bright yellow, orange, or even fluorescent pink at the top. Amaranthus produces pretty tassels of flowers that may be wine, red, or chartreuse, like the ones you have received. The flowers last a long time. Those with colorful leaves don't produce as lovely a flower. A tricolor Amaranthus is an edible vegetable commonly known as Tampala, Chinese Spinach, and Hinn Choy. This is an old and widely distributed annual with many uses. Some are grown for grain, some for their edible leaves and flower buds, and others for decoration.

Bring a tropical flavor to your garden by adding several varieties of oriental lilies. Their heady fragrances drench the air, and their spectacular blooms add an exotic tropical ambience to your garden. Then relax with a great book in your favorite hammock, breathing in their sweet aromas on a warm afternoon.

I started growing lilies as an afterthought this spring. I hate to throw out anything, and so I saved bulbs from a few potted plants that I had bought for my Mum during the winter. Mum had always grown several species of exotic lilies at our summer cottage in Maine. I stuck them into the ground and figured the rest was up to them.

Some showed their lovely heads in spring, while others were just getting ready to show off when September came along. Now I'm busily planning my next major planting. I can't decide on my favorites, so I guess I'll have to buy them all! (Except for Day Lilies; lilies that only last one day make me too sad.)

Grow Your Own: If the bulbs are spring planted like mine were, they won't flower as well the first year, but next year they should be glorious. I'm planting my next batch this fall. I just learned that lily bulbs never go completely dormant, so getting them promptly in the ground is probably a good idea. And if you live where slugs are prevalent, put down some bait in the spring.

Fertile, humus-rich, well-drained soil that is slightly on the acidic side is what they ask for. If you don't have it, you can make it. Just get some stuff from your local nursery. If your soil is mostly clay like mine, try a raised bed. They really need good drainage.

Mine get full sun and light shade during the hottest part of the day. These somewhat persnickety beauties like their roots kept cool, but don't let that worry you too much. A good mulch or ground cover to shade the soil will make them very happy. I use pine needles. My neighbor plants them at the base of a shrub. When the lilies come up through the branches, the branches support the taller lilies while shading their bases. Pretty clever!

Plant the bulbs six to ten inches deep, depending on their size. A good rule of thumb is plant to a depth of 3 times the bulb height. Water them well. Apply a thick mulch of compost over the top. I deadhead my lilies after the flowers fade. If you cut them, leave as much of the stalk as possible because the foliage feeds the bulb for next year's flowers. Be sure to leave the stalk until fall. Give your lilies new mulch after your fall cleanup.

I've read you can propagate lilies by removing scales from the bulb after the foliage dies down. Plant them in a nursery bed of their own for a few years until they reach blooming size. But I can't wait for that! Every three to five years, you can lift the bulbs and separate the bulblets from the main bulb for replanting.

In the heart of their flowers, lilies have anthers covered with dusty reddish gold pollen that can stick to and stain clothing, table cloths, upholstery, and whatever. Some folks clip the anthers from the flowers for this very reason. Others think this makes the flower look unnatural and prefer to deal with pollen. If treated quickly and correctly, wayward pollen is quite easy to remove.

DO NOT brush the pollen off fabric with your hands or dab with water or a moistened cloth, as this will spread the pollen, and oils from your skin will set the stain.

DO let the pollen dry, then carefully brush it away with a dry, soft brush or facial tissue. Sticky tape also works well. Gently dab pieces of tape on the cloth until the pollen is gone. If some pollen remains, place the item in direct sunlight for a few hours; the stain should magically disappear. Pollen stains can often be removed from washable fabrics with pre-wash stain removers.

GREAT NEWS: The Oriental hybrid Tiara, the first high-quality, true pollen-free lily has been developed and is now available. It's already gained popularity in wedding bouquets. Look for others to follow.

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