Here are some tips to help keep your cut flowers blooming longer:
Cut garden flowers early in the morning or late in the evening, when they are crisp with water. During the heat of the day, they lose water through transpiration faster than their roots can replace it and may be wilted.
Select flowers that are not yet in full bloom or past it, and cut them with a sharp knife or shears. Avoid tearing or smashing the stems since this can interfere with water uptake.
Carry a container of warm water to the garden and place flowers in it immediately after cutting. Cut flower stems exposed to the air tend to get air bubbles in the passages through which water moves. These bubbles may block the uptake of water. Leave flowers in the warm water for about two hours before arranging them so they can take up as much water as they can hold. If you must keep them a while longer, place them in fresh warm water and set them in the refrigerator. Remove excess foliage and cover them with plastic or paper to slow water loss.
Always use a clean container for cut flower arrangements. Previously used vases may contain bacteria that will quickly multiply and block the water-conducting tubes of the flower stems. Remove foliage below the water line. Foliage decaying in the water hastens the demise of the flowers by contributing to the bacterial buildup.
To learn more about extending the life of cut flowers, visit “Extend the Life of Cut Flowers” from Nebraska Extension in Lancaster County.
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If you don’t live in Lancaster County, Nebraska, please make sure to check out your local extension office too. Your extension office has resources for you, your family and community. To find your local office, visit http://lancaster.unl.edu/office/locate.shtml (nationwide listing).