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Thursday, June 19, 2008

Tips for Cutting Flowers

Yesterday I put together a stunning arrangement (if I do say so myself). Of course when I finished up I realized I was incredibly late and ran around like a chicken without a head. I totally forgot to take a photo of the finished product!

Still, as I was cutting blooms and arranging them, I thought of the many tips I had learned over the years of workshops thanks to my Nathan Hale Garden club.

The number one rule is to condition your material. That means to hydrate them. I used to walk around the garden with a beautiful basket to gather my cut flowers. As pretty as it looks, it's not the best for the blooms. Now I go out with a large bucket or two half filled with water. A bucket full of water would be better but is too heavy to lift.

It's surprising how few blooms you need to make a stunning arrangement. You can use all kinds of foliage to fill the vase. In many cases I use foliage from perennials that have finished blooming.

Once you've cut your plant material, bring it to a shaded work area. Then fill the bucket to the rim so the plants are up to their necks with water (tepid water is better than ice cold water).

Many arrangers leave their material to soak in a bucket over night but I never seem to plan ahead enough for that. The next step is to strip the plants of their lower leaves. Any leaf that is going to be under the water line is a bacteria factory so strip it off the stems. You can see the black pot on the left for the stripped leaves. They go to the compost heap when I'm done.

The best time of day to cut flowers is early morning when they are freshest. The second best time is late afternoon to evening. The worst time is during the heat of the day (unless you are cutting from a shade garden).

Look for plants that are overcrowding their neighbors and use them as filler material. The various Lysimachias are great for this along with the taller Nepetas.

Try to reach down and make a cut so the stem is as long as possible. When I putting together the actual arrangement I usually make a second cut so they fit the vase.

Today I'll look around and put together a list of plants that last long in the vase.


Jean Ann said...

I have made a couple of bouquets this year, but we have had cold weather for so long, things are just now coming into bloom...good tips!

zvrk said...

I am waiting for your next post!

Cinj said...

Speaking of a chicken with no head, that's what I feel like lately. I haven't even remembered to visit in well, a VERY long time! Come to think of it your posts aren't showing up on my faved blogs list.

Good tips. I love fresh cut flowers. I'm hoping to get some lovely boquets soon!

Hermes said...

Great designs. Personally I love the use of that single Hosta leaf in the top picture - how clever, and effective.

Robin's Nesting Place said...

Time has slipped away and I had some catching up to do here. I've really enjoyed the posts on flower arranging. My blooms are limited because my plants are still pretty young. Hopefully one day I'll have enough for beautiful arrangements in the house.