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How to Remove Pollen Stains

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One of the most eye-catching features of a lily is the colorful pollen which coats the anthers of the flower. The pollen provides a beautiful contrast to the petals, literally sticking out of the bloom at the ends of the filaments. While being a key component in the reproductive system of the flower and a great visual element for flower lovers, the heavily laden anthers drooping with a huge amount of pollen hold a great potential for disaster. Not disaster on the epic level, but disaster for your clothes, furniture and tablecloths.

You can avert this disaster!

Anyone working with lilies or enjoying them in their home or office will know the sad moment when you accidentally brush against a big Oriental lily and end up with a swath of bright orange pollen on your shirt, blouse or worse, your white slacks. In my case it was a new fleece pullover, not as fancy as a white linen tablecloth, but fall being in full swing this garment is getting a lot of use, and a bright orange pollen stain was bad news.

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Beautiful, but dangerous pollen.

I had just completed a photo-shoot of some beautiful California Grown bouquets, all featuring lilies grown by The Sun Valley Floral Farm. They grow big stunning Oriental lilies with dramatic blooms, however, they are also loaded with pollen. We were shooting Valentine's Day bouquets (only about 114 days away!) featuring the legendary "Stargazer" lily, perhaps the most romantic flower of all time.

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The Pretty Lady Bouquet

My photography complete, I picked up the last bouquet to remove it from the back drop. Suddenly my foot caught on the tripod, I instinctively looked down to make sure the camera wouldn't get knocked over. When I looked back up, I had inadvertently ended up with a big pollen stain across my chest.

I tensed up. I was a bit of a rookie in the pollen stain department. I had heard horror stories of pollen stains, and now I was living it. I put down the bouquet and was about to use the back of my hand to brush away the pollen, it was about a six-inch stain.

Across the room, I heard a guttural yell, "Stopppp!"

Startled, I looked up to see my colleague Cisco waving his arms like a maniac with a panicked look in his eye.

"Don't touch that pollen or it's going to stain!"

I raised my hands above my head, as if I had just been addressed by the police, not that I know what that is like...

"What do I do?" I asked, the fear of a permanent stain creeping into my voice.

"Freeze, Don't Move."

"Yes, Officer...I mean Cisco."

He reached in his right hand desk drawer and pulled out a roll of clear packaging tape. He skillfully ripped off a piece, flipped the piece around backward and created a loop with the sticky side out. He slipped the tape loop over his hand and approached. He was sizing me up and inspecting the pattern of caked on pollen, kind of like a CSI investigator analyzing GSR.

A trickle of perspiration dripped from my forehead. Starting where the pollen first contacted my fleece, he used a gentle, twisting, padding motion and to my amazement the pollen came right off my fleece and became stuck to the tape.

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Cisco was able to turn certain disaster into victory, with something as simple as clear packaging tape.

The Lesson:

If you end up with flower pollen on your clothes, couch or linens, what do you do? Don't rub, don't try to brush it off and don't just throw it in the washing machine. Take a breath. With as little moving as possible get some clear packaging tape, wrap it backwards around your hand so the sticky side is out, gently pat the stain and let the tape collect all the pollen. Then continue to enjoy your lovely lilies.

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Photos courtesy of The Sun Valley Floral Farm.