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Tips on Cut Flowers

Nov 23, 2007
If you want to have lovely flower arrangements in your home, you need to care for the flowers you use. Follow these guidelines to have beautiful flowers every time.

Cut your flowers in the morning before the sun comes up, or in the early evening after it sets. The sun closes the pores of the blossoms, preventing the stems from absorbing water properly. Be sure to use a sharp knife or shears to avoid bruising stem tissues and leaving ragged edges. Cut steins at an angle. This will provide the stem with a broader surface for absorbing water.

Place your cuttings carefully, in a flat flower basket, and avoid crowding the blossoms. Plunge into ice cold water up to the flower head as quickly as possible. This will harden them. If necessary, make several trips to and from the flower bed. Long stems and small buds will add to the beauty of the arrangement.

Material Preparation
Around one third of the foliage should be removed from the stem. Remove all top buds which tend to make the stem heavy. Gladioli for example, have small florets at the top which, if they do not open, will weigh down the other blossoms by contrasting unpleasantly with the lighter effect of the latter.

Bleeding stems
Dahlias, Poppies, Hollyhocks, Poinsettias.
A milky or glue like substance runs from the stems of these flowers when cut. To stop this action, hold the cut end of the stem over the flame of a candle until it is sealed. This should take about twelve seconds.
Another method is dipping the stem tips into boiling water for a couple of minutes, being very careful to protect the flowers from the steam. After this is done, plunge them directly into ice water. Poppies and dahlias react most favorably to the latter method.

Woody Stems
Rhododendron, Chrysanthemums, Lilacs.
Place the stems of the preceding on a hard surface and hammer them lightly; bruising the stems so that they may absorb water more readily.

Stock, Roses.
Scrape a small portion of the stems of these flowers with a sharp knife; placing them quickly in cold water almost to the flower heads.

Other Flowers
Iris, Daffodils, Calla lilies, Tulips.
The stems of these flowers may be cut straight across. Since evaporation occurs quickly, it is suggested that you wrap the entire units in newspaper. Place them in water and put them in a dark place over night before arranging.

What to Avoid
Do not keep flowers out of water for any length of time.
Flowers should not be left in direct sunlight. It fades them.
Keep fingers off blossoms whenever possible. The heat of our hands is injurious to them.
Dead and wilting flowers ruin the appearance of the arrangement. Remove them.
Avoid over crowding in the vase.
Heat and drafts shorten flower life.
Do not pile flowers on top of one another.
Quick changes in temperature are inadvisable.

Hints on Prolonging the Lives of Flowers -
Change water regularly. (Every day, if possible.)
Remove all foliage from below the water line.
Snip a small bit of the stems off diagonally, before placing them into the arrangement. This will retard bacteria growth.
Fresh water will keep your flowers garden crisp.
Sprinkle your rose arrangements daily.
Flowers enjoy ice cold water.
A few drops of vinegar will help retard bacteria growth. Too much is harmful.
A chemical flower prolonger may be used. These are available at the flower shops.
Spray gardenias with a little fresh water, and then cover with a moist piece of cleansing tissue until ready for use. This will prolong freshness.
Sometimes partially wilted lilacs may be rejuvenated by wrapping in moist newspaper and placing in water to be stored in a dark spot overnight.
You may keep camellias from turning brown by putting a few grains of salt in the center of each flower.
Prolong the lives of water lilies by pumping alcohol into the stems and placing them in cold water for several hours.
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