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Easter lilies remain a seasonal trend for Crossroads florists

By ALLISON MILES
April 7, 2012 at midnight
Updated April 6, 2012 at 11:07 p.m.


A closer look at Easter/Passover flower sales:

Mixed flowers: 34 percentDaffodils, irises and tulips: 15 percentRoses: 9 percentCarnations: 8 percentChrysanthemums and daisies: 5 percentLilies: 5 percentOrchids and tropicals: 1 percentOther: 23 percentSource: Society of American Florists website

They might not pack the punch of Christmas poinsettia sales or rake in what roses do on Valentine's Day, but they remain a seasonal staple.

They're lilies, and Crossroads florists say sales stay steady throughout the Easter season.

Four Seasons Garden Center, 1209 Salem Road, typically sells about 30 Easter lilies a year, owner John Fossati said. While that number can soar to more than 100 with major church orders, he said the typical year brings more conservative stats.

"We got them in last week and will sell probably all of them this week," he said Tuesday. "They aren't really popular after Easter, like the poinsettia is after Christmas."

On average, people will spend $10.50 on flowers this Easter season, according to the National Retail Federation. That's a combined $1.2 billion, and an increase from 2011's even $1 billion.

Careful planning goes into raising the flowers, Fossati said, noting growers likely planted the bulbs months ago but kept the plants in controlled conditions.

"They'll chill them to keep them from growing too fast and, when we get them, the buds are still closed," he said, explaining the goal is to keep the plants from opening until they reach buyers. "By the end of the week, they'll be in full bloom."

The staff at McAdams Floral, 1107 E. Red River St., takes additional measures, clearing the blooms of excess pollen, said Clay Atchison III, one of the company's owners.

"We hand pick it out so it doesn't stain the lily blooms or people's clothes," he said, noting they use pipe cleaners or light brushes to get the job done. "The pollen can be a dickens to try to remove."

The work doesn't have to end once the lily leaves the flower shop, said Susie Starkey, who owns Sunshine Florist, 1901 N. Laurent St.

Lilies are hearty plants that can go into the ground and, with proper care, return year after year, she said.

"They'll kind of multiply," she said, noting the plants typically won't fare as well if left in the pots they come in.

Sunshine Florist sees a mixture of business from both individuals and churches, Starkey said.

Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic Church is among the churches that use Easter lilies in its holiday service, said Emily Yeary, the parish secretary. Although she didn't know the exact number, she said the church uses multiple lilies each year.

The flowers aren't there for decoration, she said, but to symbolize Jesus' resurrection.

"They're pretty, too," she said. "But we have them because they're part of the service that we do."

Not everybody aims for traditional during the Easter season.

While white Easter lilies are available at Earthworks, 102 E. Airline Road, new hybrid lilies have become more popular in recent years, said Laurie Garretson, the nursery's owner. Earthworks typically sells about a dozen Easter lilies a year, she said, but a few dozen hybrids, which boast various colors and look slightly different.

"They're kind of a fancier plant," she explained. "It's got a different flower, but is still a lily."

One Victoria church will also buck the typical seasonal trend this year.

Northside Baptist Church will forego lilies this time around, due to church-goers with severe allergies to the flowers, said Phyllis Johns, who works with the church. With extra musical accompaniment filling more space up front, however, she said the service will still remain festive.

"We won't really have much room anyway," she said.

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