Flowers can actually last longer in an arrangement than on the plant when prepared correctly. What better way to showcase your achievements in the garden than to create a flower arrangement for your home, friends or family. In an e-mail world your home grown flowers can give any occasion a special touch.
When to cut your flowers
Cut when open:
- Chrysanthemums – Flower open, but the center petals still tightly packed
Cut in the bud stage:
- Daffodil – When the bud is just starting to open
- Freesia – Flower at the top is open, most of the remaining buds showing color
- Gladiolas – When the lowest flower has just started to open
- Irises – Only if the color of the flower is visible
- Lilies – Only if the color of the flower is visible
- Narcissus – When the bud is just starting to open
- Peony – Only if the color of the flower is visible
- Poppies – When the bud is just starting to open
- Roses – When the bud is just starting to open
Choosing the right tools
When cutting live plants, it is recommended to use a bypass cutting tool. This type of tool will give the cleanest cut, minimizing damage to the flower stem. The cleaner the cut, the easier the flower will be able to take up water in an arrangement, the longer the flower will last.
Cut the stem on a slant to expose the most feeding surface possible. Remove leaves that will be under the water or inside the floral foam. Hard and woody stemmed flowers have more difficulty absorbing water. Cut a slit up the center of the stem bottom about 1 inch (2.5 cm). Some authorities suggest hammering or crushing the stem ends to increase water intake. Crushing, however, makes it difficult to insert the flower into foam.
Preparing Your Flowers
When a plant is cut a small bubble of air gets trapped at the end of a stem, blocking the flow of water. A new cut must be made right before arranging to open the stem to receive water. Make the new cut under water in a large container. When moving to the permanent arrangement a small drop of water will cling to the end of the stem.
- Use luke warm water in flower arrangements. It has less air bubbles than cold water, so the flower can use it faster.
- Keep cut flowers as cool as possible. Moving arrangements to a cool room during the night can prolong the flower life.
- Misting flowers with water can prevent the arrangement from dehydrating.
- Hollow stem flowers, such as lupines or delphiniums, can quickly wilt. Turn each flower upside down and fill the stem with water. Cover the stem end with your thumb to keep the water in prior to placing it in the arrangement. The pressure of water or foam in the container will keep the stem filled with water.
Preservatives can extend the life of an arrangement by 3 to 10 days, depending on the flower. Preservatives have important bacteria killers. Bacteria and yeast grow on sap released from the plant, clogging the stems. If no preservative is used, change the water every 2 days to keep it fresh.
Preservative recipe you can make at home:
- Add to 1 quart water:
- 2 tbs. fresh lemon juice
- 1 tbs. white sugar
- 1/2 tsp. household bleach
Floral foam will hold flowers in place while allowing water intake, promoting longevity. Always soak floral foam by letting it float in a container of water. Floral preservative can be added to the water to increase flower life. Never soak the foam under a running faucet, it will cause air pockets that can clog the flower stem. Always make sure the stem end is in contact with the foam, to avoid air pockets. If a flower is inserted too far into the foam you need to take the flower all the way out and re-insert in a slightly different area.
A Flower Garden Provides Cheerful Flower Arrangements
If you keep a flower garden you may well find yourself discovering you have bright and cheerful flower arrangements popping up in every room of your home. A natural extension of being a flower gardener is spreading your crops where ever you can. Most flowers found in free seed catalogs will continue to produce as long as the season allows especially if they are trimmed back before they go to seed. This means a gardener must collect bundles of flowers to encourage new blooms. He is often rewarded with two new blooms for every one he trims off. This all leaves a happy flower garden and a gardener with a fist full of flowers. If you are lucky enough to know a flower grower you may even find yourself with fresh flowers on your table!
A flower garden may provide a lovely edge for a larger vegetable garden. Some flowers around a vegetable garden will even help manage pest problems. There are some flower beds that slugs will not crawl through and keep your crops from being ravaged. The added bonus is the pleasant accent the flowers will add to your garden and yard. Getting to know all of the benefits plants strategically placed in your garden is a slow process but one that gardeners enjoy. Exchanging hints with other gardeners can be a way to speed up the learning curve.
If you think there is a flower garden in your future just waiting to be tilled, take the time to explore the many garden supply stores and free seed catalogs you will find on the Internet. They will get you started with all of the basics in tools, plants and knowledge. You may even start to think of them as friends as your interest grows and you find yourself shopping year after year.