Always cut into clean plastic buckets.
Rusty metal will damage cut flowers. Wash with weak bleach
solution (spray like Clorox Cleanup ARE this solution)
OR essential oil of tea tree or lavender, which are both
antibacterial and antifungal; rinse thoroughly.
Sharpen and sterilize cutting tools with
alcohol or bleach before each use. Sterilization reduces
the chance of passing bacteria from one plant to another.
Sharp pruners or knives give clean cuts.
Cut into WARM water on an angle, to make
the largest ‘mouth’ possible for the stem
to ‘drink’. If you would bathe a baby in
it, it’s just right. A few plants with milky sap
(euphorbia, poinsettia) need to be cauterized and sealed
by a flame first, to keep the sap in the stem and not
in the water.
After cutting is complete, RE-CUT each
stem and condition your flowers into warm water with
floral preservative, such as “Flora-Life” or “Crystal
Clear”, available in large commercial quantities
by order from The Gentle Gardener. Do NOT follow garden
club ‘folk remedies’ such as “a drop
of bleach”, “a penny in the bottom of the
vase”, “Sprite” or “7-UP” in
the water. While these methods may not hurt your flowers,
they will not ensure the longest vase life, and the sugar
in some promotes bacteria growth.
Change the water and re-cut stems every
two to three days; every day if arranged in clear glass.
For Specific Varieties:
WOODY STEMS (magnolia,
viburnum, boxwood, willow, holly, lilac hydrangea, etc):
Harvest in the landscape for long term shape of the tree
or shrub, generally cutting a longer length than you need
for your arrangement. Don’t just take the tips for
arrangements, or your plant will disappoint over time.
After cutting, re-cut each stem
to the desired length and, using a sharp knife, scrape 3-4
inches of bark off the bottom of each stem, exposing the
green underneath. Square the stems as you go, to keep heavy
stems from twisting in oasis floral foam. Place into VERY
warm (not boiling!) water with floral preservative.
Do not soak foliage like boxwood
for long periods of time. Bacteria growth almost always undoes
the good intentions of the hydration. Plants hydrate through
the stems most efficiently.
ROSES, PEONIES, PERENNIALS,
ANNUALS AND HERBS:
After cutting, re-cut each stem and place into clean, warm
water with floral preservative. Keep in a cool, dark place
until you are confident each stem has hydrated (about 20
minutes). If any stems have not hydrated, repeat the process.
If possible, keep cut flowers
away from direct sunlight and heat.
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The author, a certified Landscape
Designer, is the owner of The Gentle Gardener in Gordonsville,
Orange County, Virginia. She is a certified Permaculture
Designer, specializing in sustainable landscape design.