Make the most of your cut flowers!

“More than anything I must have flowers always, always.”

Claude Monet

Joni Shimabukuro

Joni Shimabukuro

Students frequently ask: “What do I need to look for when I buy fresh flowers?”

No matter how inexpensive they are, it never is a good idea to purchase open flowers; buy flowers that are in bud and are beginning to open. Stay away from buds that are droopy or show brown tips or ‘wrinkles’. Pay attention to the foliage: limp and yellowish  or blemished leaves are indications that the flowers are not fresh.

Joni Shimabukuro

Joni Shimabukuro

Another common question is: “What do I need to do to make the flowers last as long as possible?”

*Always re-cut the stems with a sharp knife or clippers before putting flowers in water. Maybe you wonder why this is so important: a cut stem, left exposed to the air, will seal off and be unable to absorb water. It is a good idea to use lukewarm water as it holds more oxygen. Adding flower food is helpful also, as long as you use the correct ratio, indicated on the package. Flower food contains sugar, which helps nourish cut flowers, as well as an anti-bacterial substance.

*Strip any foliage that will be under the water line, as they will rot when submerged. Bacteria  will develop,  and plug the water channels in the stems, resulting in wilting stems and foul smelling water.

*Keep flowers away from heating or air conditioning vents and from sunny windowsills. Flowers will last longer if they are kept in a cool room. Don’t place flowers in the refrigerator.

*Flowers arranged in a vase will keep longer that those arranged in floral foam.

Joni shimabukuro

Joni shimabukuro

*Some types of flowers require a bit of special care:

-tulips, daffodils, hyacinths and other bulb flowers:remove the white part at the bottom of the stem as it impedes water uptake

-daffodils, hyacinths and euphorbia: cut the stems  to the desired length and place them in a separate container for a few hours to prevent the oozing liquid to contaminate the water and other flowers

-lilies: carefully remove stamens as the pollen will stain clothing

-poppies: stems need to be seared with a flame or dipped in boiling water for a few seconds (make sure to protect the flower heads from the steam)

-delphiniums and amaryllis: flowers with hollow stems benefit from having the stem filled with water

-forsythia, cherry blossoms, dogwood, lilacs, viburnum,..: never smash woody stems, as it damages the cells, resulting in the inability to take up water

Enjoy your flowers!

2 Comments on “Make the most of your cut flowers!”

  • Nora March 7th, 2009 7:40 pm

    Francoise, this is very cool! S
    ome of these things I knew already, and the refresher was good.
    I had totally forgotten about using lukewarm water, and didn’t ever know why – which is probably why I forgot.
    New to me:
    I didn’t knowthat poppy stems need to be seared (why is that?), or that delphinium and amaryllis are hollow-stem flowers, and that it is possible to fill the stems with water (how do you do that?), I also didn’t know that the liquid that oozes from daffodils, hyacinth and euphorbia could damage other flowers!

  • Françoise March 9th, 2009 3:35 am

    Poppies cannot take up water if they aren’t seared – so they wilt very quickly without that treatment.
    For hollow stem flowers: hold the stem upside down and use a watering can to fill the stem with water; plug the stem with a cotton ball and place the flower in the arrangement.

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