Sunday, January 20

Proper Conditioning of Fresh Cut Flowers

These are pics of some of the flowers I used for the bridesmaid's luncheon and wedding I had this past weekend. You see them here in 5 gallon buckets, which were washed in a disinfectant with hot water first, and then filled with 4 to 6" of room temperature water. Ideally, the flowers would remain in the buckets for six hours before they are used in arrangements. That insures that they are fully hydrated. Above: raspberry and medium pink roses. Below: cream cymbidium orchids (the bride's bouquet and the mother's nosegays).

When I got these flowers from the wholesaler on Wednesday, all of them had been hydrated, but I still had to do what I consider to be proper conditioning, in order to make the flowers last as long as possible. Below: green hydrangeas; very pricey and very showy!

When you get fresh flowers from a florist or other vendor (such as a grocery) and they are not in water - or they have been, but they wrap them for you and they are not in water while you take them home, they have to be rehydrated. You can do that in whatever vase you plan to use, but make sure it is clean and has no soap residue in it. The flowers have to be stripped of all foliage that would fall below the water line in the vase (which should be fairly high). Especially this time of year, when the heat is on and air is dry, flower water can evaporate overnight, so be sure to fill the vase at least 3/4 of the way to the top. If you have roses, you should also cut off the thorns. Anything that is on the stem below the flower will sap water from the blossom, therefore, the more foliage you remove, the more water the blossom will be able to take up. Below: Green Goddess calla lillies.

The most important part of this process is cutting the stem of the flower before you place it in water. When a flower has been out of water for more than a minute or so, the inside of the stem will form an air bubble, which prevents water uptake. This means that it is imperative that you recut the stems. The best way to do that is to use a very sharp knife and make a slanting, diagonal cut about 1" up from the bottom, and immediately place that flower in the water. Below: green miniature cymbidium orchid sprays.

Ideally, you should change the water in your vase every day. If you have used a preservative in the water (something you were given when you bought the flowers, or a packet you bought), using that will negate the need for changing the water everyday, but I do it at least every third day. The water will start to turn cloudy and the stems will feel slimy due to the growth of algae and bacteria. Changing the water will alleviate that and greatly lengthen the life of the flowers. I once had a client who was given weekly flowers by her husband. She would put the vase into the kitchen sink and let the water run into it and out of it until it was clear again. That way, she didn't have top remove the flowers and upset the arrangement. Below: White Mountain/Casablanca lilies.

Below: cream French tulips.

Below: purple narcissus.

Below: Bells of Ireland

Below: hypericum berries (in the pepper family).

When you receive an arrangement from a florist that is made in Oasis (the green, wet stuff in the container), you cannot remove and recut the stems, obviously. But you can water it everyday, and that will make it last longer. If any of the foliage starts to turn yellow - remove it. Flowers in Oasis do not last as long as those in water, but they travel more easily and allow arrangements that would be nearly impossible in water-filled vases.

Please feel free to ask questions; I will be happy to answer anything I am able. Perhaps tomorrow I will begin to post photos from the luncheon and wedding.


Jennifer said...

Such a wealth of valuable information here! I always cut the bottoms of my fresh stems, but never knew exactly why, until now.

Bob-kat said...

I did my flower arranging badge in the guides so I actually remember all of this. It really does make the flowers last so much longer if your great advice is followed!

craziequeen said...

Hi Judy, Michele sent me to learn about flower arrangements.

I never knew that about hydrating cut flowers for so long before using them in bouquets and stuff.

hehehe - I am intrigued about Bobkat's comment about being in the guides......I have to store that away for another time :-))


OldOldLady Of The Hills said...

Oh THANKS SO MUCH , Judy....This is great information. Some of it I already knew and try to do...but some I did not! This is so helpful!My next group of flowers wether an arrangement or cut, will be cared for just as you describe!

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the tips Judy. It is something I like about the blogging world, people are so willing to share information.

Beverly said...

Oh, these are all such good things to read and take into account. I love the tulips.

poopie said...

Wow...those are all gorgeous! I'll file this info in my tiny brain for gardening season.

PI said...

I didn't know about cutting off the thorns. I do most of the rest. Only thing is I'm rubbish at arranging
so rely on the flowers' natural beauty and stuff then in.
It's a gift I don't have.
This time Michele sent me and now I'm going to bed:)

Sky said...

i have heard that a tiny drop of bleach in a large container of water will help prevent bacteria in vases of cut flowers. i have never done that but have always wondered if i could/should. what about an aspirin - have heard that an aspirin in the water of fresh flowers is helpful, too. i have always been afraid to do anything but use the floral packages and change the water. i recut the stems or put all the stems quickly into another vase of water while i clean out the one they were in and add fresh water to it.

so good to know you are here with good advice! : )

rosemary said...

Those are all beautiful flowers. Great info as I just need to get an arrangement from a husband that feels badly for leaving me home alone in the middle of a blizzard.

rennratt said...

Do you have any advice for flower arrangements placed on graves?

I would love some insight, especially at this time of year.

LZ Blogger said...

Judy ~ These are just very beautiful. If I get close enough... I can ALMOST smell them! ~ jb///

Fran aka Redondowriter said...

Thanks so much for the photos of the beautiful flowers--and for all the tips on how to make them last longer. I have an arrangement downstairs given to me almost two weeks ago that has been live plants and some cut flowers. I guess I haven't been watering it enough.

what gorgeous centerpieces, too. You are a true artist!

bobbie said...

Thanks very much for the tips. It is so discouraging to receive flowers and then have them wilt too quickly. I'll know what to do next time.

Jean said...

Oh, the purple hyacinths! Making a note right NOW to order purple bulbs next fall.

The stocks are wonderful. You didn't mention fragrance? In the seed catalog, single 10 wk. kind say 'sow in small discreet patches -- my idea of how to plant, but not small patches. The peach color doubles are labeled, 'Cinderella Series Mixed' and 'Ten Weeks Stocks Mixed' -- and I haven't even started 'The Bride' snapdragon seed that I have now. Sigh. So many choices.

Kristi said...

I love hydrangea. They are one of my favorite flowers. This post was a source of great information, since I knew very little about caring for fresh flowers. Thanks for sharing these tips!

Chancy said...

Judy Thanks so much for the info on the proper conditioning of cut flowers. I will put it to good use the next time I get roses.

Jamie Dawn said...

Thanks so much for this info.
I will follow your directions about flower conditioning and care to ensure longer life for the blossoms.
I love all the photos you included!!

Shephard said...

Oh, I love this advice, Judy!
Easy to remember too. I am going to remember this. :)

Leslie Lim said...

First time I commented in a blog! I really enjoy it. You have an awesome post. Please do more articles like this. I'm gonna come back surely. God bless.