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Tips for Fresh Cut Flowers

Flower Arranging Classes

I used to take flower arranging classes a few years ago. I learned a lot about flowers in these classes and was given opportunities to experiment with different varieties. Because I had never tried to arrange flowers before taking the classes, I didn’t think I had any natural ability for designing arrangements. I learned that designing and arranging can be taught when given the right situation with lots of flowers and a classroom of creative students.

Flower Tips

The class was taught by a horticulturist named George, whose family had been in the floral business for many years. George taught flower arranging classes at night and would spend all afternoon gathering older flowers that the florist could no longer use to bring to class. He taught us many things about horticulture and let us experiment with a plethora of flowers. I never became a great flower designer, but George’s encouragement always made me feel like an artistic genius. Most of us class regulars continued taking the flower class because the flowers were beautiful, and George was such an endearing person. We all became friends who brought cuttings from the wild to share with the class. George taught us many things, and here are a few of his helpful tips.

Water Tips

  • Change the water every day in cut arrangements. It is the best protection against bacteria and ensures that the flowers stay fresh longer. This was George’s number one tip!
  • Put a little bleach in the water to kill bacteria if you cannot change it daily.
  • Never let foliage or blooms get in the water because they will rot and produce bacteria.
  • Don’t put bleach in the water of dyed flowers, or it can bleach the dye right out of the flowers.
  • Soak soft foam such as Oasis until it is heavily saturated, or the flowers will not stay hydrated. This can take 1/2 hour or more.

Caring for Stems

  • After you buy cut flowers and get them home, cut the stems again to create a refreshed surface for water intake.
  • Cut flower stems at an angle to give them a larger surface area to intake water.
  • To revive wilted woody-stemmed flowers that will not perk up, trim the stems and then try placing them in very hot water for a little while. If they can be saved, this technique will do the trick.
  • Revive wilted hydrangeas by soaking them in a sink of water for 30 minutes to an hour (or longer if needed). The water will hydrate the flower heads.

Petals and Pollen

  • Pull off the dried outer petals of aging flowers like roses to make them look fresh again.
  • When a flower such as a lily opens up, cut off the pollen-filled stamens and throw them away. Do not touch this pollen or try to wipe off any specks that have fallen on the flowers, or it will stain your fingers and the flowers. It is easiest to cut off the stamens if the flowers are held upside down over a trash can. After cutting off the stamens, gently tap the flowers to remove any loose pollen.

Odds and Ends

  • Blue flowers do not show up well at a distance. Keep this in mind when planning arrangements to be used in large areas like churches or wedding venues.
  • Bright yellow or white flowers added to a dull arrangement will make it come to life.
  • Flowers kept in very cool areas will last longer than flowers kept in warm rooms. Place flower vases in the refrigerator overnight (every night) to prolong their freshness. Alternatively, place them in a cold garage or basement at night during the wintertime. Just make sure they aren’t in a place that freezes.
  • To get ants off fresh-picked peonies, submerge them in a bucket of water for a little while.

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