How to keep cut flowers looking their best

  • By Kathy Van Mullekom Daily Press (Newport News, Va.)
  • Tuesday, August 28, 2012 10:45pm
  • Life

Cut stems of dahlias, gladioli and lilies brought indoors and displayed in simple, unassuming containers can help you enjoy the fleeting days of summer vacation.

Here’s Dig.Drop.Done flower bulb expert Amy Dube (www.digdropdone.com) gives some tips on bringing color and fragrance indoors.

Gladioli: These flowers bloom from the bottom up. The best time to cut the gladioli stem is when one or two of the lower flower buds start to show color. The cut stems can last up to two weeks indoors.

Lilies: To prevent pollen stains from getting on tabletops, hands or clothing, remove the stamen from the inside of the lily before you bring it inside. If the lily bud is half bloomed you can easily pull off the stamens because they have not yet been pollinated. However, if the lily has fully bloomed you’ll need to use scissors to remove the pollinated stamens.

If a flower becomes wilted on the stem simply cut it off, as the other buds will continue to bloom.

Dahlias: To maximize the vase life of dahlias, cut them in the early morning before the blooms get warm or in the evening after the temperature drops. Dahlias do not like to be out of water, so place cut stems directly into a vase/bucket of water. Remove any leaves that may fall below the water level in the vase and change the water every few days.

Calla lilies: Cut calla lily stalks at an angle and try not to crush the stem, as this will prevent water from entering and traveling up the stem.

You don’t have to be a florist to craft impressive arrangements. Combine your imagination with the guidelines below to transform your outdoor beauties into interior bouquets, Dube says.

Use one flower and one color: Whether it’s a single stem or a mass, the effect is greater, and it is easier to arrange.

Allow flowers to have a good drink of water for four to five hours, and preferably overnight, before arranging. This allows the stems to fill up with water and the flowers to become crisp. These flowers will last twice as long.

Work in odd numbers: one, three, five or seven stems.

Cut flowers shorter to create a fuller effect.

Use nonglass vases so you don’t see the water, which may need to be refreshed after a day or two.

Use warm water, as flowers take up warm water more readily than cold. This will help the cut flower last a little longer.

Don’t fill vases to the top with water. Foliage beneath the water line will rot and pollute the vase which feeds bacteria, causes odors and limits flower life.

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