The Flower Longevity Dance: extending the life of your cut flowers.
Picking Flowers sounds rather self-explanatory but, often times we make it out into the flower field and it’s hard to know where to start (plus learning how to extend the flowers life). My first day at the farm was a learning curve. That day I stood before a field of Peonies, and I simply didn’t know where to begin. With the guidance of Nicky and Jeana I learned where to pick, when to pick and what to look for when harvesting flowers. Without their guidance I might still be intimidated by picking flowers which is why I now share these helpful tips with you!
Picking Cut Flowers:
- I recommend selecting flowers that are in their prime. Blooms that are just beginning to open are ideal, with vibrant colors and firm petals. Also, certain flowers will develop sturdy stems when they’re ready to be picked which is what I look for when harvesting blooms like Zinnias. Many different flower varieties will produce multiple flower stems from each stalk. Cutting just above a set of leaves can help promote more growth which is why we always try to cut our stems in such a way that we can continue to enjoy flowers for months to come!
Caption: Left: Bringing in the abundance of flowers. Right: Some gorgeous snap dragons.
- Harvesting in the morning or evening can also help with flower longevity. Cooler temperatures help preserve the flowers’ moisture content and reduce stress on the plants.
- Use clean, sharp tools: Use sharp scissors or pruning shears to make clean cuts, minimizing damage to the stems. Cutting stems at a slant can also help with longevity as this increases the surface area for water absorption.
- Removing the lower foliage: I highly recommend stripping off leaves that would be submerged in water to prevent bacterial growth and water contamination. Having lower foliage removed will keep the water in your vase cleaner for longer intervals, making water changes less frequent!
Caption: Left: Zinnia’s are an amazing flower for longevity. Right: an example of peeling the leaves off the stems.
After harvesting flowers:
- Place flowers in water immediately: Place freshly cut flowers in water as soon as possible to prevent air from entering the stems and blocking water uptake. This will help stem life which is why we encourage our guests to bring a bucket of water along for flower picking!
- Conditioning Cut Flowers: Use clean vases: Wash vases with hot water and a mild detergent to remove any bacteria or residue from previous use. Warm water works best! Fill the vase with lukewarm water (100-110°F or 37-43°C) to help the flowers drink more effectively. (Tulips are the only exception to this, they prefer very cold water!)
- Add flower food: Use a commercial flower preservative or create your own by mixing sugar, lemon juice, and a small amount of bleach to discourage bacterial growth. Change water regularly! Every 2-3 days, empty the vase, clean it, and refill with fresh water and flower food to length the life of your bouquet! Recutting stems can also help! Trim about 1 inch off the bottom of each stem at a slant before placing them back in the vase. If possible, place the vase in a cool, well-ventilated area away from direct sunlight, heat sources, and drafts and remove wilted flowers from arrangement as they may produce ethylene gas, which can shorten the lifespan of other flowers!
Caption: And voilá, you can have a beautiful long lasting arrangement.
Following these steps can truly help to lengthen the lifespan of your flowers to get the most from your U-Pick Flowers experience at Chelan Valley Farms.