It's been a great summer for flowers. But it's a shame the hot temperatures forced many flowers to go by so quickly. To enjoy the flower season longer, cut some of your favorite annual, perennial and bulb flowers and arrange them in vases indoors. Before you run out and snip some blooms for the table, here are some tips.
Know when to harvest your flowers for the longest shelf life. Spiky flowers such as dianthus, Veronica and astilbe should have only ½ of their florets open. Other bulb based flowers, such as gladiolus and lilies, should have only a few florets showing color. Daisy-like flowers, such as zinnias, chrysanthemum and rudbeckia, should be fully open.
Harvest in the morning when the temperatures are cool, but after the dew has dried. With a disinfected, sharp knife or pruner, cut the stems at a 45 degree angle to help water uptake and remove the bottom leaves. Some flowers, such as sunflower, do best with all their leaves removed. Place the stems in a pail of clean water in the shade.
Once indoors, fill cleaned vases with fresh 100 degree water that's not treated with fluoride or water softener chemicals. Recut the stems underwater, again at an angle. Fill the hollow stems of flowers such as dahlias with water to keep them turgid. Add in floral preservatives to help keep the cut stems hydrated and fed. Place the flowers in the coolest room you have and start arranging. Most cut flowers will last 7 to 12 days. Keep the room cool and change the water regularly to keep the flowers looking great.