Fresh flowers never fail to delight--except when they begin to wither. Here are some tips on getting the most mileage out of cut flowers, courtesy my friend Barbara Hammond, an artist, writer and freelance floral designer.
- First and foremost, start with the freshest flowers you can buy. No need to break the bank. You can get some of the freshest flowers at grocery stores that have their own farms, like Wegman's and Whole Foods.
- To test if roses are fresh gently squeeze the head of the rose. It should be quite firm, like a rubber ball. For most other fresh flowers just look for tight buds.
- Exotics like bird of paradise, calla lilies, antherium, ginger, and especially cut orchids, will always outlast garden flowers. Orchids should last at least two weeks. They cost more but you will definitely get your money's worth.
- Always give the flowers a fresh cut before you put them in a vase, and then whenever you change the water (which should be every two to three days). Despite most advice to the contrary, you don't need to cut stems under running water.
- As for adding those packets of floral preservative to the water ... they can't hurt, but I've rarely seen them make a big difference, especially since you need to change the water after a few days.
- Trimming away any leaves below the water line will help keep the water clean and keep the flowers fresh longer.
- Be sure the water is cold. With tulips I sometimes put ice in the water!
- Tulips are the only flower that continue to grow after they're cut--strange but true. So you may have to trim the bottoms frequently or just enjoy how they begin to bend and drape, as I do.
- Pluck spent blossoms as soon as you see them. This may change the arrangement, but you can "downsize" your arrangement in a smaller vase and enjoy every flower to the last.
- Finally, don't be afraid of flowers. They're not as sensitive as you may think.
Floral designs above by Barbara Hammond. Floral photos by Jack Looney. To see more of Barbara Hammond's floral design and art go to hammondart.biz. For a taste of Barbara's writing visit her new blog Zero to 60 And Beyond.
Author photo courtesy Barbara Hammond.
"Use the good china for breakfast."