Part of the pleasure of gardening is being able to look at, smell, and enjoy the results of your labor. When you cannot be in the garden, bring the garden to you with cut flowers!
You could cut any flower from your garden for a bouquet, but here we will consider a good cut flower if it keeps for at least five days after cutting. Cutting flowers from your garden is also good for the plants as it performs a function similar to dead-heading (removing old blooms) and encourages more blooms.
First, think about where you would like to plant your flowers. Most of the flowers that make good cut flowers grow best in the sun, so a sunny location is preferred. You can grow flowers for cutting either incorporated into the rest of your garden or creating a separate space for them. In any case, you’ll want to be able to have enough to enjoy in your garden as well as some to cut and bring inside.
You should plant what you like for cut flowers. Think about the flower colors you like. You could do a color scheme like hot colors (yellow, red, orange, and white) or cool colors (blue, purple, green, and white) or a mix of colors. Bouquets of flowers look best when there is a combination of flower types and shapes like spikes, single stems, and racemes.
These are a few basic guideline for cut flower preparation based on stem type. Certain flowers require special preparation, but this gets you started.
• Hearty Stems: (solid) cut diagonally and place in warm water.
• Hollow Stems: turn upside down and fill with water then plug with a piece of cotton or use your finger and put into a vase with water.
• Soft stems (bulb flowers): place in cold water (no warm water).
• Woody Stems: make vertical cuts in the end of the stem to create more surface area to absorb water (some people smash the stem end with a hammer).
• Milky Stems: if a stem oozes milky sap when it is cut, sear the end of the stem by applying a flame to the cut end for 30 seconds or putting the cut end in boiling water for 30 seconds. Wear gloves to avoid irritation caused by milky sap (especially with Euphorbia).
• Cut flowers early in the morning. They are at their maximum hydration before the heat of the day so they will last longer in an arrangement.
• Flowers with multiple buds should be cut with at least one bud beginning to open. Cut single stem flowers when they are fully open.
• Carry a bucket of water with you to the garden when you cut the flowers so you can place the cut stems directly into the water. Leaving the cut stems open to air allows damage to the vascular tissue which impedes water absorption into the flower.
• Re-cutting flowers stems (1/4” to 1”) before placing in water opens up new vascular tissue and is one of the best things you can do to lengthen the life of your flowers.
• Use a clean vase to prevent bacteria and fungus from killing your flowers.
• Using a flower preservative, such as Wilt-Stop, is recommended as it will lengthen the life of your arrangement.
• Remove the leaves below the water line as rotting leaves are unsightly and will shorten the life of your arrangement.
• Placing cut flowers in lukewarm water (110℉) then moving to a cool location for an hour or two is called “HARDENING” and allows for maximum water uptake and life for your cut flowers.
• Add fresh water daily and change the water in your arrangement at least once a week.
• Keep cut flowers away from heat sources such as direct sunlight, heating vents, and appliances.