Tips for keeping flower arrangements beautiful for as long as possible

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Bringing flowers home from the store or picking them from your garden is just the first step in keeping them fresh and beautiful in your home. But taking care of a flower arrangement is more than just filling a pretty bowl with water. You need to take care of your plants by protecting them from bacterial growth and wilting through a step called conditioning.

Luckily, you don’t need to be an expert florist to make your bouquets last as long as possible – and in some cases, all you need is a cotton ball or a teaspoon of sugar.

Grown: The Elements of Floral Style, released next week, provides the perfect guide to organizing and caring for your flowers, plus gorgeous photos to inspire you.

The following is an excerpt adapted from Cultivated: elements of floral style through Christin geall.

Conditioning flowers

The professional term for postharvest flower care is conditioning. In commercial applications, conditioning typically involves a clean cut after the flowers have arrived from the field and a period of standing in water to which a chemical moisturizer and / or nutrient product has been added to promote seedling development. flowers. Often an antibacterial agent is also used.

The principles of conditioning are important to understand whether you grow your own flowers or buy them. If your flowers have been properly conditioned, they will not wilt when you bring them inside and will be less thirsty in the vase. However, each type of flower has unique tastes and predilections, so I’ll start with a few basics and get more specific as I go.

Clean water is of the utmost importance. Warm is better than cold.

Cultivated will be released on March 24, 2020. Princeton Architectural Press

When you come home from the store or garden, remove the lower leaves from the stems. The leaves continue to sweat (give off water vapor) after you cut a flower, so keep only those necessary for your work. In some cases, such as lilacs, it is best to remove all of them.

Different types of flower stems should be treated differently at this point. The British Florist Association has an online how-to guide covering consistent stems, hollow stems, woody stems, milky stems, and more. In general, hollow stems (like those of delphiniums) should be filled with water and plugged with a cotton ball and a rubber band. Lupins and amaryllis also have hollow stems and heavy heads, so it is wise to support the flower with a prop. Florist Sarah raven recommend using bamboo cane (I also used barbecue skewers), as an insert. Fill the rod with water, place the holder inside, cut it to length, and then stuff cotton wool into the hole. Wrap a rubber band around the base to hold it all together. Although it may seem tedious, you’ll be thankful you did.

If you are using woody stems, split them, mark them with an x, or smash them with a hammer at their base to allow the stems to absorb more water. Shrubs, flowering branches, chrysanthemums and roses are all referred to as woody.

The stems of spring bulbs like tulips and hyacinths may have a white part that does not absorb water, so cut it off. Daffodils (daffodils) give off a viscous sap after cutting. Change the water several times before fixing it.

Many soft-stemmed plants benefit from a hot water bath. This method damages the cell walls of the stems and allows the cut flower to absorb water. Soak about 10 percent of the length of the stem for about twenty seconds in freshly boiled water, being careful not to steam yourself or the flower. I keep an electric kettle in my workshop for opium poppies, Cerinths and euphorbias. You can also try this method with wilted roses, adding a teaspoon of sugar to the water they sit in after seizure. In a few hours, they can come back to life.

Another method of quickly processing sap stems is to burn them. This damages the stem so that it can absorb water and also seals it, preventing wilting. If I have a small number of Icelandic poppies, I’ll just grab the stems with a barbecue lighter. Flower growers use propane torches. Simply run the flame along the bottom of the stem until it becomes semi-transparent and the sap is bubbling and burning a bit at the cut end of the stem.

The foliage can be revived just as you would with lettuce for a salad. Place the leaves in a cool bath, then shake off excess water and store at low temperature to refresh them.

After the special treatment you have given (the requirements for each type of flower can be a bit daunting, but you learn them over time), let your flowers sit in deep water, in a cool, dark place. direct sunlight. Try to leave them on for a few hours or overnight before arranging them.

Carefully fill your container with water after arranging it; use a small watering can to insert between the stems.

Remember to keep your arrangement out of direct sunlight and heat.

Keep flowers fresh

Every living thing carries a microbiome, including flowers. In vase water, bacteria are spread by feeding on their main food source, the cut ends of the stems. The stems eventually degrade (giving the old mudwater that peculiar swampy smell), but before that, bacteria clog your plant’s stem capillaries, preventing them from taking in water and shortening the vase life of your flowers. This is why it is often recommended to cut freshly cut stems to prolong the life of the flowers.

I religiously change the water daily and advise my clients to do the same. If the water cannot be poured easily, run cool water through the flowers to rinse them.

Additives can also help. Sarah Raven advises, “What cut flowers need is a balance of sugars that can be used for metabolism, a substance to increase the acidity of the water, and an antibacterial agent. Commercial cut flower food pouches contain agents for all three.

If you don’t have “flower powder” or if you avoid plastic wrappers or those mysterious substances called “agents,” you can, as Raven suggests, improvise with a teaspoon of sugar and a few drops of sugar. bleach. I’ve also heard that vodka can slow the growth of bacteria.

If I seem reluctant to recommend specific products or potions, it is because each type of flower has its own response to various substances (astilbes, yes to alcohol; Asclepias, yes to sugar), and the level of detail involved in listing who likes what might crush your enthusiasm. If, however, you are one of those conscientious people who love to be armed with all the facts, search for “Conditioning Flowers,” a wonderful online flower-by-flower management and care list compiled by the Brookfield, Connecticut Gardening Club. . Sarah Raven also offers detailed advice in her now classic 1996 book “The Cutting Garden”. I highly recommend it.

Extract of Cultivated by Christin Geall, published by Princeton Architectural Press. Reprinted with permission. All other rights reserved.



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