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Make the Most of Your Cut Flowers

How to harvest and keep your cut flowers beautiful

Flowers are in full-bloom and now it is time to show them off. Here are some harvest and care tips to prolong the life of cut flowers.

Harvest:
Always harvest with sharp scissors or a knife so that the capillaries, which help soak up water, remain in tact. Harvest in the morning when flowers have high water content so that they wont wilt. Immediately plunge them into very clean container filled with warm water (at least 70F).

Transition to the Vase:
Before you transfer the flowers into a very clean vase, cut the stems at a sharp angle underwater (this increases surface area) to urge water uptake. Woody stems, like peonies and lilacs, should be scraped a few times with a sharp tool vertically and criss-crossed at the bottom of the stems. Salvias, flowers that exude a milk, should be put in boiling water for 1 minute and the end of the stem should be charred. All leaves that touch the waterline should be removed because their decay will likely breed stem-clogging bacteria.

In Their New Home:
Just like you need to eat, so do your flowers. Many people buy flower-food from the florist, but the recipe is amazingly easy just a teaspoon of sugar (for glucose) and bleach (for fungicide) to a gallon of water. Changing the water and food often is also an important weapon against exponentially breeding bacteria (aka. scum), which shorten a flowers lifespan. To optimize their lifespan, place flowers in a cool place, away from direct sunlight, heat, air ducts, and violently curious animals. Also, unsealed fresh fruits and vegetables spawn the nemesis of flowers: ethylene gas. So, keep them away if possible.

If you follow these instructions carefully, you will be able to indulge in natures take-home peep show twice as long as before. (Does that mean you now only need half the flowers in your garden?)