Gathering Cut Flowers and Making Them Last Longer

Ideas for gathering cut flowers from your garden and tips for making them last longer.

Gather flowers in the early morning. Bring a jar or other glass or plastic container with cool water with you and place stems in it immediately after cutting. Cut with the stems as long as possible.

Be sure that the blades of the knives or shears you are using are kept sharp to avoid crushing the stems. Disinfect your cutting utensils and gathering jar with one part bleach to ten parts water. Apply oil to shears after disinfecting. (Alternatively, use rubbing alcohol to disinfect.)

Re-cut stems at a 45° angle under stream of cool water before putting in final arrangement. For woody stems, such as on lilacs and azaleas, lightly crush the stem bases or cut a slit in them to improve water intake before placing in vase.

Remove any leaves which will be below the waterline.

Use only as much water as needed to adequately cover stem ends – up to 6″ of water is enough. Re-cut stems everyday and also change water daily.

To make your bouquets last longer, add one of the following to your vase water:
one teaspoon of chlorine bleach
a penny
an aspirin
teaspoon sugar
4 T 7Up or other lemon lime soda (not diet)
4 T vodka

Can add food coloring to water to tint some blooms.

Most flowers will last longer if conditioned. Place flowers in refrigerator for approximately 6 hours to condition and extend their vase life.

If your cut flowers begin to wilt, resuscitate them by placing bottom one inch of stems in very hot water for 30 seconds. Then place them in warm water.

Display flowers out of direct sunlight, away from heat, and away from any fruit.

Dry Baby’s Breath (Gypsophila) by standing it up in a tall jar.

Drying other flowers and seedpods:
Gather in the late morning or early afternoon. Wrap rubber band or twine around stems and hang upside down in a dark and dry place for one to three weeks. Once dry, lightly spray with hairspray to help the petals stick.

For daffodils, after cutting, put them in an inch of cold water and place in refrigerator for a few hours. Note: Daffodils (Narcissus) should be arranged alone, at least for the first 24 hours, or with dry flowers only as their stems excrete a sap that is harmful to other flower stems.

Alternatively, place stem tips over an open flame until blackened, or immerse stem tips in boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds, to help seal the stems and prevent wilting. (The same process is recommended for Poinsettias, Clematis, Poppies, Euphorbia, Hellebores, Zinnias, and other flowers that ooze milky sap when cutting.)

Bonus: Cutting flowers tends to improve flower production.

Idea: Use a fresh cut peony, daisy, dahlia, or other blossom as a bow on a gift. Attach with double stick tape.

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