Caring for cut flowers

Horticulture Hints

February is the time for cut flowers and roses. In order to enjoy them as long as possible, extend the vase life of your cut flower bouquets with a few simple hints.

When purchasing, first of all make sure the flowers are fresh. For example, roses should be in bud form or only partially open, with leaves that are turgid and free from drooping or discoloration. A rose with a tighter blossom will last longer in the vase than those that are fully open.

When transporting your purchase from the florist, be sure to have flowers wrapped with proper covering to protect from damage due to cold temperatures and wind. Immediately take your flowers to your vehicle and head straight away to your home or delivery recipient, to avoid additional time spent outdoors to prevent chill damage.

Once inside, remove covering and recut the bottom of the stems, cutting at a 45 degree angle to increase surface area for water uptake. Place stems in a clean vase of lukewarm water immediately after cutting. Amount to trim off long stems will depend on the size of the vase. If filler leaves, such as ferns are included, trim those stem ends as well, and place in the vase first for easier arrangement.

Place your completed flower arrangement in a cool room, away from heat or drafts, and out of direct sunlight for longer life. And if you have curious kitties, remember to situate the flowers away from temptation of your furry felines.

Then every few days, replace the water in the vase to prevent bacteria buildup which can clog water uptake of the stems. Trim off about ½ inch from stem ends with each water change to freshen cut surface for maximum water absorption before replacing in the vase. Use of floral preservatives can also help to extend the life of your flowers.

Following these easy hints for proper conditioning and care will extend your enjoyment of fresh flower arrangements.

Did you know? Roses can be dried by hanging upside down by the stems in a dark, dry area (such as a closet). Start to dry roses before fully opened for best results, or petals may lose attachment and drop from the dried bloom.

Gardening Questions? Contact McCormick at yvonne@iastate.edu for information or advice.

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