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Conditioning Stems: Preparing Cut Flowers For The Vase

Whether you pick flowers from your garden or buy them, all cut flowers benefit from being conditioned before they are arranged.

conditioning stems

Photo: Susy Morris (flickr)

Whether you pick flowers from your garden or buy them, all cut flowers benefit from being conditioned before they are arranged.

At last we have come to that time of the year that we have been waiting for.  We finally have, or soon will have, lots of flowers in our gardens.

Some of us have already cut branches of shrubs, such as flowering quince and forsythia in bud, and brought them into the warmth of the house to bloom earlier than they would have outdoors.

Tips

  • Always use 2 tablespoons of bleach for every gallon of water at room temperature to discourage the growth of bacteria in a container when you are forcing branches of shrubs.
  • Also, pound the stems of woody branches with a hammer on a hard surface, so that water is absorbed more easily. (I am guilty of pounding with the handle of my secateurs, but I do not recommend it as it really ruins their alignment.)
  • There are several types of powdered ready-to-use flower food that can be added to vases to give more longevity to cut flowers. However, a pinch of sugar is an easy alternative to the commercial products and will give a boost to flowers when it is added to the water in a vase.

Whether you pick flowers from your garden or buy them, all cut flowers benefit from being conditioned before they are arranged.

1.     Carefully re -cut each stem under water.

2.     Remove the leaves that will be below the water line.

3.     Place the flowers in a large container about 3/4 full of lukewarm water.

4.     The container should be placed in a cool, preferably dark place for about 4-5 hours so that the stems can draw in a lot of water before the flowers are arranged.

Cut off the stamens of lilies, or the pollen will stain anything it touches.

Moya Andrews

, originally from Queensland, Australia, served as Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs and Dean of the Faculties at Indiana University until 2004. In the same year, Moya began hosting Focus on Flowers for WFIU. In addition, Moya does interviews for Profiles, is a member of the Bloomington Hospital Board, and authored Perennials Short and Tall from Indiana University Press.

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