2009-08-07 / Columnists

The Diary Of A Green Thumb

Enjoy Your Cut Flowers Longer
Commentary By Danielle, Danielle's Rockaway Florist

Whether you receive a loose bouquet of fresh cut flowers as a gift, pick a bunch from your local florist, or cut them from the flowering plants in your garden - there are a few tips to extending the life of your colorful blooms.

When taking advantage of all of the beautiful flowers from your garden that are in season, keep in mind that you should give your plants a nice watering before bed and sneak out in the morning before the sun comes up to cut the flowers from the plant. Rather than harvesting the blooms at the end of a long day when the stress of the sun has worn on the plant, it is better to allow them to drink up and become a little hardier overnight. Use a sharp pair of shears and cut them on a 45 degree angle. This will help to maximize the surface area for water intake, and prevent the bottom of the stems from lying directly on the base of the vase and stopping the flowers from drinking.

When preparing a vase for a bouquet of flowers, make sure you start with a clean glass or glazed ceramic. Any water-tight container will do. The vase should coordinate with the style and colors of the bouquet. For a wispy, fresh picked garden bunch — try an old milk jug, water pitcher or lined wicker basket. Bold, colorful flowers may be more attractive in a galvanized tin bucket or watering can. Short, delicate flowers such as lily of the valley or sweet pea look great in a little tea pot. Use your imagination. Your garage is full with so many fun ideas.

For flowers that are already in bloom, use cold water in your container. For those that are just beginning to crack and show color, fill your vase high with lukewarm water, as this will help the flowers to open. Very tight or stubborn blossoms may need the water changed every day for the first few days. A constant source of warm water will give it the extra push in sharing the colorful flowers hidden inside.

Pull all of the leaves from the stems that will sit below the water line. Otherwise, they will rot quickly and make the water dirty and cloudy, clogging the stems and taking days from the life of the bloom.

It is very important to cut the stems on a bouquet of flowers just before you put them in a vase to open the pathway for water intake. When a flower is left out of water, it tries to protect itself from withering by holding in any moisture that is inside of the stem. They form a scab at the bottom of the stalk to seal it, thinking it may not get water again. The plant continues to feed the flower from the water in the stem until there is little left inside; then the flower will begin to wilt. This process can begin within seconds of a fresh cut, so I recommend cutting your flowers under water to prevent this from happening and to avoid the accumulation of air bubbles in the stem just before arranging them.

Many people mistake the rules of caring for outdoor gardening plants with those of fresh cut flowers. The sun is needed to grow strong, healthy plants outside - but after your flowers have been cut, they should be kept in a cool room, out of direct heat and sunlight. Even if you are trying to pop open stubborn closed blooms. Just a vase filled with warm water will do.

After arranging, it is important to maintain your flowers to extend their life. Every 2-3 days, rinse out the vase, refill it with cool, clean water - and recut the stems about ½ inch from the bottom to remove any blockage that accumulated from bacteria in the water.

Just follow these few short steps to caring for your fresh cut flowers and you can be sure you are getting every last breath of enjoyment from your beautiful bouquet. Enjoy!

Feel free to visit us at www.- DaniellesRockawayFlorist.com for previous columns, or write to us at 436 Beach 129 Street with your gardening questions and tips. Enjoy your summer.

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