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Cut Flower Tips
Sources: Michigan State Univ. Extension, West Virginia Univ. Extension, Horticulture Magazine, Country Journal Magazine.
-Cut when in full bloom for a single flower (e.g., zinnia), or, when the first blooms appear (e.g., gladiola, delphinium, statice).
- Cut flower ideally before the dew has dried when they contain the most water, but evening is OK, too. Use a bucket with a few inches of water to gather them in while you're cutting.
- Scissors are OK for softer stems, but needle-nose shears are better; sold by Johnny's Seeds ($22). Pruning shears are OK for woody or thicker stems that need to be crushed.
- Lilac, roses, forsythia, viburnum, wisteria, chrysanthemum have hard or woody stems. Some sources recommend crushing or splitting ends several times with a hard knife before hardening for 24 hours. One article in Yankee Magazine, who consulted with New Hampshire's lilac expert at University of NH, recommends against this technique.
- Cut stem at an angle and place in cool water immediately.
- Place flowers in a dark, cool spot overnight before arranging in vase.
- Use a few drops of chlorine and some sugar for each cup of water, or some 7-up
- Refresh water every 2-3 days, but forget the chlorine and sugar.
- Use inexpensive substitutes for silica gel: a mixture of borax and cornmeal, or a nonchlorophyll kitty litter.
- Spring bulbs have soft stems and should be arranged in shallow water.
- Singe with a match those plant stems that exude a milky sap (e.g., poppy).
-Some plants foul water quickly and require more frequent refreshing: asters, snapdragons, dahlias, marigolds, calendulas, stocks.