Cut Flowers

Happy Mother's Day, everyone!  Even if you're not a mother.  For me it's a great day to remember my own mother, who passed on her love of gardening to me.  After she moved to a condominium, she frequently drove the 100 miles between us just to weed my garden.  You might suspect that it was just an excuse to visit me, but she seriously missed gardening - at least as much as she missed me.

Caring for Cut Flowers

Now for readers who happen to have received cut flowers or flower arrangements today, here are some tips for making them look as good as possible for as long as possible.

  • Before putting the flowers in a vase, make sure the vase is clean.  Then use sharp scissors or a knife to strip off any leaves that will be underwater, and then recut the stems and place them immediately in water.
  • Don't overcrowd the flowers in the container - use a large enough vase.
  • Check the water level in the vase and replenish it as needed.
  • Change the water and recut the stems every few days.  In mixed bouquets, remove any flowers that start to wilt early; as they wilt, they may give off ethylene, which could cause other flowers to wilt early, too.  Flowers that go limp are not drinking well and need to be recut.

  • Roses and other sturdy flowers can be rehydrated by plunging the entire flower and stem under cold water.  Submerging roses in a bathtub for 3 hours will add two days' vase life, according to several sources.
  • Always discard wilted blooms.
  • Keep flowers away from drafts, direct sunlight, and ripening fruits, which emit ethylene gas—a substance that causes buds to remain closed, petals to have poor color, and flowers to have a shortened vase life.
  • Commercial flower food WILL extend the vase life of flowers.  It often comes with arrangements but if you don't have any, you can use a pinch of sugar and a drop of bleach.

Photo credits.  Top.   Lower left.  Lower right.

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