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How to Care for Cut Flowers

Make fresh arrangements last longer by taking care of your cut flowers before they go in the vase

When bringing in fresh flowers from the garden, take a few precautions to make sure they will last as long as possible indoors. You can cut them in the afternoon hours, when they contain the most nutrients (and thus are at optimum health) or in the morning before they have lost some moisture content.

Choose flowers that are not at full bloom as these are already mostly spent. Buds of some species do well, such as tulips and iris, but many others may never unfold after cutting.

Cut the stems much longer than you will need and take them indoors. Always use sharp blades. Remove all leaves from the part of the stem that will be below water. Debris in the water encourages bacterial growth.

Next, trim the stems to the height appropriate for the container. Cut on the diagonal to allow a wider entry for water. If possible, purchase preservatives at your local florist shop. These are highly recommended for the longevity of the plant. Place the recommended amount in a clean container filled with warm water and add the stems. You can also add a few drops of bleach. (Note: clean all containers thoroughly before adding any fresh flower. A mild bleach solution will kill most organisms.) Your flowers should remain in a cool, draft-free room for several hours before creating the arrangement.

You can make your own preservative: to each quart of water, add a teaspoon of granulated sugar, 4-5 drops of bleach, and two regular aspirin. Stir to dissolve and add flowers. Replace the solution before the water becomes cloudy. Add fresh water as needed. When adding clean water, re-cut each stem at the same angle.

Always use fresh floral foam as bacterial can easily accumulate in older, used blocks. Wet foam is the best and it should be soaked in a dishpan or sink first. Fill the container and allow the foam to float naturally; when it sinks, it is ready for use. You can also add flower food to the foam if desired.

For longer floral life, keep all arrangements away from sunny spots or drafts, especially heating and air conditioning vents. Floral arrangements also last longer if the water remains cool.





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