Harvest and handling of Cut Flowers

Your flowers will look better and last longer in the vase if you cut and handle them properly. Remember that a plant with its flowers  is a living, breathing organism.  When harvesting you must learn to think like a flower, empathize with the flower, and try to understand the physiological processes  at work  in this creature.  

 

WHEN: Flowers should be harvested either early in the morning or evening when the sun is low in the sky and the air is cool.  The temperature should be under 80. Both heat and sunlight speed up the plant's metabolism and cutting  under those conditions causes greater shock to the plant. Flowers cut when it's hot  start to die much more quickly.  In the morning the plants are full of water and less likely to wilt, and in the evening, their tissues are filled with carbohydrates and their vase life will be longer.

TOOLS: Sharp scissors or pruners,  bucket  with clean, tempered water, and vases for arranging.  Everything should be CLEAN.  Sanitize the cutting tools and all containers.  Bacterial growth causes the cut stems to clog up and the flower can't take up water.  You can use liquid detergent and a drop or two of Clorox in the water, scrub and rinse. 

 

WHAT TO PICK: Choose flowers carefully.  They should be  undamaged by insects or disease, and at the proper stage of maturity.  This varies widely according to variety. Generally, if a flower is shedding pollen, or looks more than fully open, it is over-mature and should be avoided.  Most flowers are good if they have just opened.  If you have questions about this, please feel free to ask us.

 

HOW: Follow the stem down to the length you desire, or to a main branching. If you have to cut off more than of the entire plant to do this, STOP and check with us. Make a clean, diagonal cut. (This helps the plant to heal more quickly.) Strip the leaves off the lower stems up to where they will be in water.  Put flower in bucket immediately.  After cutting is completed, fill the container up to the top with cool water and allow flowers to soak (and take up water) for several hours to overnight in a cool, dark place.  Use floral preservative for this "conditioning" process.  The preservative that we provide should be mixed about 1 to 2 tsp. for every gallon of water  

 

ARRANGING: “Keep your vases as clean as your teacups”.  Prepare water with floral preservative (1 to 2 tsp. per gallon of water) and clean the vase. Cut odd numbers of each flower  variety (especially the large or main focus flowers). Cut each stem again diagonally under water, then place quickly in the vase.  Do not let flowers lie on the counter and wilt.  Put in the tallest stems first, and then the  ones that form the sides.  Next, fill in the back and front.

 

Air Drying Cut Flowers

Air drying of flowers is the easiest, “old fashioned” way.  All you need is a dark, warm, dry, ventilated place.  Too much light will fade the flowers, and lack of warmth will cause browning and fading.  Pick flowers in late morning, after the dew has dried, but before the day is too hot.  Strip off all the foliage, and gather them in small bunches fastened with a rubber band.  Hang upside down in the drying area.  Drying is complete when a stem at the bottom is bent and snaps.  You can leave the bunches where they are or store them wrapped in newspaper and placed in closed boxes in a warm, dry place. 

 

Selection:  Flowers for drying should be free of damage and cut as they first come into full bloom when their color is most intense.  A few varieties are exceptions to this rule, so check with us if you have questions. 

 

Varieties:   Many of our flowers are suitable for air drying.  Most are small sized and are available in August and early September, but a few are only blooming early in the summer.  The varieties that are best for air drying have been marked with a red dot on the variety sign post, or just ask us, we'll be happy to assist you.

 

Early Summer  June 15 to July 15.

 Acroclinium,  Ammobium,  Coral Bells,  Plumed Thistle,  Gold and Millifolium  Yarrow,  Thrift, Annual Gypsophila,  Bachelor Buttons,  Larkspur,  Astilbe,  Pearl Everlasting,  Sea Holly,  Sea Lavender,  Globe Thistle,  German Statice,  Liatris,  Perennial Gypsophila,  Chives.

 

Late Summer  July 15 to frost,  about September 15.

 Bachelor Buttons,  Gypsophila,  Larkspur,  Salvia,  Millifolium Yarrow,  Statice,  Celosia,  Strawflower, Globe Amaranth,  Sweet Annie,  Goldenrod,  Joe Pye Weed,  Xeranthemum, Amaranthus. 

 

There are often interesting plant materials for drying around our pond.  We invite you to take a walk with your eyes “peeled” and your imagination at work!

 

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