Rice’s Rules for longer lasting cut flowers

June 30th, 2017 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Phlox 'Moody Blues' and more six days after cutting

With the garden overflowing with flowers, I’m always cutting posies or billowing bouquets to bring into the house. I try to have flowers and foliage on the kitchen table every day of the year and although in the winter it can be tough, at this time of year – not a problem.

My “arrangements” are far more in the style of whatever-I’ve-picked-organised-in-a-beer-glass than anything more supposedly artistic: like the annual ‘Moody Blues’ phlox in the picture (after six days in water). But the question is: how to make them last as long as possible. These are the rules.

1. If possible cut flowers in the morning. Try not to cut them in the heat of the day.
2. Carry a jug of water round with you and place the cut stems straight into it.
3. Be sure that you keep plants with spikes of flowers, such as antirrhinums, upright because if the stems lean the tips will turn upwards and will never be straight again.
4. When you start to organise the flowers in your beer glass (or vase) snip a quarter of an inch off the bottom of each stem.
5. Change the water every day.
6. Snip a quarter to half an inch of the base of the stems every day.

In a perfect world, you’d add flower food to the water that you use to refresh your arrangement but the fact is that we don’t always bother. And you have to be a little careful about how much you snip off or the stems will end up the length of your finger!

The most important of these rules are: change the water every day and snip the base of the stems every day. And if you can’t snip the stems, at least change the water. You’ll be amazed at the difference.

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Is one of our best known gardening writers. A graduate of the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, Graham was previously Gardening Correspondent of The Observer.
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