Posts Tagged ‘cutflower’

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.

Mediterranean must-have

February 23rd, 2018 | Plant Talk with Graham Rice | 0 Comments

Cerinthe major 'Purpurescens'

Cerinthe is relatively new in our gardens. It’s not a flamboyant plant and until about thirty years ago it was very rarely seen. But one particular variety began to catch our attention, Mr F spotted the growing enthusiasm and so it’s listed here, both as seed and as plants.

Cerinthe major is the species with the largest flowers, and is found around the Mediterranean, on both the African and the European sides, often where the soil retains a little moisture. It makes an upright, rather succulent plant whose seed often germinates in the autumn and flowers in spring.

The tubular flowers hang down in clusters and are usually yellow and white but in ‘Purpurascens’, the variety to look for, they’re deep purple and surrounded by smoky purple-tinted bracts. The flowers are very popular with bees, which explains its common name: honeywort..

Seed can be sown in autumn or spring – as usual with Mediterranean plants autumn sowing produces better plants, and they’re happy in any reasonably fertile soil in sun. They’ll flower for months, especially if deadheaded.

The stems also last well when cut, which is perhaps surprising when you see how succulent and juicy they are. Searing the ends in boiling water for twenty seconds will ensure that they last at least a week, and often ten days.

But don’t cut or deadhead all the stems, leave some to make seed and self sow and you’ll never be without this colourful and intriguing flower.