Cutting and Preparing Flowers for Arrangements
Everyone enjoys fresh flower arrangements made with flowers and foliage from their gardens. Arrangements can be enjoyed for an extended time if you follow these easy steps when cutting and preparing the flowers.
When cutting the flowers, always take a bucket of water with you to immediately place the freshly cut flowers. The bucket should first be cleaned with hot, soapy water and a little bleach to sanitize it, and then fill with very warm water – 100 to 120 º F. Fresh flower food may be added to the water at a rate of 2/3 ounce to 1 quart of water. Woody plants, such as roses, lilacs, and tree branches, like hot, 150 º F water. Always use sharp, clean scissors.
Choose early morning (6:00 to 8:00 a.m.) or late evening (7:00 to 9:00 p.m.) to pick flowers. You can pick anytime during overcast or foggy days. The stems are full of water during these times. Always choose freshly opened flowers or buds. Do not pick any flower with pollen – it won’t last long.
When you bring the flowers in, re-cut each flower under water. When flower stems are cut under water, water is pulled into the stems more quickly. Flowers never re-cut after picking can loose up to 60 percent of their potential vase life. Place the bucket of re-cut flowers in a cool area, such as the basement. Allow the flowers to hydrate or harden for at least one hour, although overnight is best. This will ensure that their stems are full of water.
When arranging the flowers, there is no need to re-cut the stems again. A droplet of water hangs with the stem when placing the flowers in the vase. Always use sparkling clean containers. The water should have fresh flower food and be at tap or cooler temperature. Any foliage or thorns that will be below the water in the vase or container should be removed to ensure that the water stays as fresh as possible. When the arrangement is complete, the temperature of the display location has a tremendous effect on the vase life of the flowers. Flowers in a 45-º F room deteriorate three times faster than at 35 º F. Therefore, display the arrangement in a cool area out of direct sunlight.