Cut Flower CareFlowers are fragile but when handled with proper care you can extend the enjoyment of your beautiful blossoms by several days or even weeks (depending on flower variety).
Harvesting garden flowers
Garden flowers should be harvested in the early morning or evening hours avoiding the warmer temperatures of the day, this will limit the shock to both the flowers that you cut as well as the remaining plant. Always use a sharp knife or sharp bypass pruning shears (the type where the blades bypass each other like scissors). When cutting flowers from the garden it is important to get them into water as soon as possible, so it may be advisable to bring a container of water with you so that you limit the shock to your flowers by placing them in water as they are cut.
Preparing your fresh cut flowers
Whether you harvested flowers from the garden, received them as a gift or bought them from a florist shop or flower market the care you give them when they arrive in your home can determine how well your beautiful bouquet will last.
For best results you should have a clean counter (work space) a sharp paring knife (best) or bypass pruning shears, a clean and well rinsed vase or non metal container to arrange your flowers in, a sink or basin filled with tepid water, some commercial floral preservative or suitable *substitute (*see below).
Fill your vase - container with lukewarm preservative treated water (if using a commercial floral foam cut it to size and pre-soak it in treated water). When putting flowers in an arrangement it is very important to remove any foliage from the stems that will be below the water level (this slows down bacteria growth which will shorten the life of your flowers), you can also remove rose thorns that will be below the water line to make them easier to insert in the arrangement but it is not necessary.
It is best to cut all flowers underwater before inserting them in your vase with your sharp paring knife (second choice pruning shears) in the sink filled with tepid water. Cut each stem underwater removing at least 1 inch from the stem and immediately place it into the arrangement.
Arranging your cut flowers
When arranging flowers it is quite often easiest to start with putting some greenery crossing the stems in the vase first as this will help support your flowers. Start arranging your flowers putting in the tallest ones in the center of your arrangement first followed by the shorter bushy stems around them working your way to the sides of the vase.
Enjoying your flowers
Once your arrangement is completed it is time to enjoy your creativity, but you will also want to get the maximum life from you flowers. To do this avoid placing your bouquet near a heat register, near a sunny window, near or on a heat emitting appliance such as on the T.V., it's also not advisable to place your flowers near air conditioning outlets or in drafty areas. You may choose to enjoy your flowers during the daytime and place them in the cooler room during the night to lengthen their life. Be sure to top up the water level daily with fresh preservative treated water, and if the water begins to look cloudy it should be completely changed.
Premature wilting or drooping heads
On occasion a flower will droop prematurely, this is most often a sign that water is not getting all the way up the stem to the blossom. When this happens remove the flower from your display and re-cut it under water as described above removing about 1 - 2 inches from the stem, leave the flower laying submersed horizontally till it firms up and then place it back in your arrangement. If the flower does not firm up repeat this procedure.
Tips and Tricks
- Some flowers with woody stems such as lilacs will do better if you slightly crush the bottom of the stems using a hammer.
- Try adding a little (1/4 cup per gallon) of vinegar to Gerbera Daisies to keep there stems rigid
- Adding 7up or Sprite to your carnations will make them blossom quicker
- Placing some ripe bananas under your arrangement of lilies will make the buds open quicker
- Removing the stamens from lily blooms as soon as they start to open helps to eliminate allergy problems and will also lengthen the blooms life.
- A few drops of bleach will make babies breath open and look much whiter.
*suitable preservative substitutes
Although commercial floral preservatives have been thoroughly tested and have all the ingredients to help your flowers to bloom fully and last longer there are a few things that should help in the event that it's not available.
- Add a few drops of bleach, this will help keep bacteria down and water clear.
- Adding a couple of aspirin to the water will add some acidity which many flowers like.
- Adding some vinegar to the water works wonders for Gerberas and Iris.