Preparing the Stems
Flowers require some additional preparation after you receive them. Upon arrival get the flowers into clean water in clean buckets so bacteria levels stay at a minimum, and use a floral preservative.
The type of preparation depends on the type of flower stem. Here are some guidelines to follow:
Flowers with hearty (or solid) stems, such as Bombay Celosia, Marigolds, and Statice, need only the diagonal cut to absorb maximum water. They should be left to drink in lukewarm water with preservative for a minimum of one hour before arranging for maximum shelf life.
Hollow-stemmed flowers, such as Amaryllis, Bells of Ireland, Dahlias, and Delphiniums, do best when the stems are filled with water. Make sure that at least four inches of the stems is in water so that it will be able to travel up the hollow cavity of the stem.
Bulb flowers such as Hyacinths, Iris, and Tulips have soft stems and should be cut similar to the hearty stems. Place the flowers in cold water. Since most bulbs bloom when the air and ground are still at low temperatures, they do better in a vase of cold water.
For woody plants such as Lilac, Dogwood, Flowering Branches, and Heather, be sure to split the stems at the ends rather than smash them. This will keep tissues intact and create more surface area to absorb water.
Care of Cut Flowers in an Arrangement
Here are some general rules that will help you make your cut flower arrangements last:
- Don’t overcrowd the flowers in the container.
- Use clean containers and vase.
- Keep foliage and leaves from falling or being submerged in water.
- Check the water level in the vase and replenish it frequently.
- Flowers that go limp are not drinking well and need to be cut again.
- Always discard wilted blooms.
- Keep flowers away from drafts, direct sunlight, and ripening fruits. Fruit emits ethylene gas which is a substance that causes buds to remain closed, petals to have poor color, and flowers to have a shortened vase life.