Monday, April 21, 2014

Removing Lily Flower Anthers To Lengthen Bloom Time

There are two main reasons to remove the pollen covered parts from a Lily flower.

Removing the small bean like anthers before they are covered in pollen will:
1.) prevent getting pollen everywhere which can stain both inside the flower and cloth.
2.) lengthen the bloom time of the flower.

Removing the pollen source will inhibit pollination and will lengthen flowering duration.

Lily flowers have various structural parts. Petals, which give the trumpet flower shape and encase inside male and female parts. It's important to know the difference.

Male: 6 stamens (thin filaments) and anthers which carry the pollen.
Female: The long stigma, style and ovary.
The sticky, fleshy stigma. In pollination, it accepts the pollen and fertilizes the ovary down the long style tube which connect them together.
In this photo, the filaments have had the anthers removed.
Once pollinated, an embryonic seed will develop at the base of the flower.

The trick to doing this is to remove the anthers at the end of long filaments inside the flower before they release the yellow powdery pollen.
Once the flower begins to open, gently remove the anthers either with your fingers, or better yet, with a pair of tweezers like above. The trick is not to get any pollen on the the petals nor bruise any of the petals trying to reach the anthers. Stigma's have a sticky coating to make the pollen adhere. Do handle with care. At this stage the anthers are long and quite fleshy. They have no pollen. Although, within hours they begin to change and release their intended purpose.
Here, 6 anthers are removed and you can clearly see they have no powdery pollen residue.

In my experience, the flowers last several days longer with this removal.
Don't worry, if the anthers bobble about and are full of pollen, it's a bit late but still doable.

Carefully wrap your fingers around the anthers, making sure you protect the stigma below and tease away gently before pollen is dispersed.  The trick is not to get any on the sticky stigma.

Do this as well with amaryllis and any other lily. Most florists and garden centres do this for you, but if you buy potted plants or cut flowers which are in bud, it'll be up to you to achieve a lengthier bloom time with this trick once the flowers open.
Have a go!


  1. could you please help me . i removed my lilly bulbs from the ground and i removed the centre stem im afraid i might of killed the bulb or it wont flower anymore

  2. Can't give you insight until you tell me what kind of lily you removed. Easter, Stargazer....?? Removing the centre stem isn't a wrong thing to do, unless you damaged the bulb below.

  3. I have been looking everywhere but j cannot fkr the life of me find an answer. If I this process, will they rebloom the following year or will this pretty much end the cycle and force me to replant the next year?

    1. It all depends on what kind of Lily you have....generally, the bulb forms like amaryllis and stargazer types will all refoliate and rebloom after a period of dormancy. Please see my posts on Amaryllis finished blooming, so now what?

  4. So my stargazer lilly just bloomed this morning! I was unaware that snipping the anthers would allow it to bloom longer. I wont be back home to cut them until late this afternoon, so my 1st question is should I also cut the stem and place in water after I cut the anthers off? Also, how far down should i cut the stem when doing so?? Thanks!

    1. If you must cut them for indoor floral displays, yes - then remove the anthers. But if you are leaving the flowers outside, just allow the anthers to remain, as bees and pollinators need to do their thing. It doesn't matter what sequence you cut the anthers off. For cutting: you can cut to whatever length. Just don't remove all the flowers/stalks. Leave some for the plant to regenerate the bulb.


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