Posts Tagged ‘cut flowers’

Longer lasting cut flowers

June 29th, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Mixed rudbeckias cut for the table

We all cut flowers from our gardens. I often cut them from mine, and I have ‘Hi Scent’ sweet peas in front of me on the table as I write as well a vase full of mixed sweet Williams. The rudbeckias (above) will be opening any day mow. But how do we make them last as long as possible?

Every summer I bring up this issue of making cut flowers last because, after all the time and effort and imagination you’ve spent looking after your flowers in the garden, it really pays to give a few thoughts to making them last. And a few simple tricks can make a huge difference. So here goes.

1. Cut them first thing in the morning, when they’ve had a cool night to take on moisture. By evening, the sun has been sucking up water from the flowers and foliage all day.
2. Cut flowers at the right stage, usually this is just as they’re opening. Don’t cut flowers that have been open for a few days, it’s obvious that they won’t last well.
3. Take a bucket or a jug filled with water with you into the garden and put the flowers in it as soon as you cut them.
4. Before arranging them, cut at least a half an inch from the base of the stem.
5. Change the water every day.

Adding flower food to the water is the ideal approach as flower food inhibits the growth of the bacteria that block the stems and prevent water uptake. But I know that relatively few people actually do this – so change the water every day instead. If you ignore all the other advice, at least change the water daily. You’ll be so pleased you did.

Helping Cut Flowers Last Longer (Part Two)

July 31st, 2015 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

OK, time for another look at some of the most popular cut flowers in our gardens and how to ensure that they last as long as possible once we’ve cut them.

The simplest thing you can do with all cut flowers is to change the water every day or two – that really makes a difference. But each flower has its own needs: different flowers are best cut at different stages and each has an individual treatment that will help it last.

Last time I looked at cut flowers from Achillea to Cosmos, let’s take a look at some more with some advice from two award-winning books on cut flowers: The Cutting Garden by Sarah Raven and The Cut Flower Patch by Louise Curley.

Dahlia 'Karma Choc'Dahlia
One thing about dahlias that’s worth remembering is that some varieties are much better cut flowers than others; some hold their petals well, some drop them in a day or two. The Karma Series, now in nineteen colours, are the ones to look for.

Here’s what Sarah Raven has to say about making sure that cut dahlias last: “Only pick dahlias in full flower. The buds tend to wither and die without opening. Recut the hollow stem ends under water to avoid air locks.”

Order Karma Series cut flower dahlias when they become available later in the year.

Perennial delphiniums make spectacular cut flowers but it’s worth remembering that the more petals in the flowers – that is, the more double they are – the longer they’ll last.

Again, Sarah Raven has some good advice: “Pick delphiniums when most of the flowers on the spike are open. They are very sensitive to ethylene gas, which is emitted as fruit ripens., so do not put them near a bowl of fruit.”

Order delphinium seed to sow next month or in spring.

Dianthus (Sweet William)
These are amongst the most naturally long lasting of garden cut flowers but, like delphiniums, are especially sensitive to ethylene. Avoid varieties with very short stems and choose taller types such as ‘Monarch Mixed’ and especially ‘Electron’.

Cut them when about 20% of the individual flowers in the head are open and be sure to strip off most of the leaves from the stems.

Order seed of ‘Electron’ cut flower sweet William.

Books on cut flowers
These two books give useful cut flower advice, though the focus is mostly on how to grow them with relatively limited advice on how to treat them once they’re cut.

The Cutting Garden by Sarah Raven

The Cut Flower Patch by Louise Curley

Sweet William for cut flowers

Helping cut flowers last longer

July 10th, 2015 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Antirrhinum 'Liberty Classic'As our gardens come into their full glory, we naturally think about cutting some flowers to bring into the house to decorate our homes. There are few clumps or annuals and perennials that will miss a stem or two but how can we make sure that the flowers we cut from the garden last as long as possible?

I talked about helping cut sweet peas last as long as possible a couple of weeks ago. Now, in the first of an occasional series, I’m going to look at how to make other easy garden flowers last well once you’ve cut them. All will benefit from the addition of flower food to the water.

Achillea (Yarrow) Wait until the individual florets are open before cutting, then cut in the coolest part of the day. Cut too early and the will usually droop. Strip off any side shoots and lower leaves and put the stems into water immediately. Buy achillea seed.

Antirrhinum (Snapdragon) Louise Curley (see below) recommends cutting when one third of the flowers are open and standing them in tepid water for a few hours before arranging. Professionals suggest that a week sugar solution, 5g of sugar to half a litre of water, will prolong the life of the flowers significantly as will flower food. Always keep the stems upright; if laid flat the tips will curl. Buy snapdragon seed.

Centaurea 'Classic Fantastic'Calendula (English marigold) Pick when the flowers are two-thirds open, strip off most of the leaves, and plunge in water straight away.  Buy calendula seed.

Callistephus (Aster) Pick when the petals begin to open and strip the leaves from at least the lower half the stem. Buy aster seed.

Centaurea (Cornflower) Sarah Raven (see below), says to pick cornflowers when the flowers are half open and to strip the leaves from the bottom half of the stem. I’ve found that sowing in the late summer or early autumn will usually give longer stems. Buy cornflower seed.

Cosmos Louise Curley recommends picking when the petals are starting to open and standing them for several hours, or overnight, in deep buckets of water before arranging. Buy cosmos seed.

These two books give useful cut flower advice, though the focus is mostly on how to grow them with relatively limited advice on how to treat them once they’re cut.

The Cutting Garden by Sarah Raven

The Cut Flower Patch by Louise Curley