8 October 2014

Arrange Your Flowers! - # 3 - How To Condition Your Cut Flowers




This is the third instalment of 'Arrange Your Flowers!'. The first one was about the essential tools that you need. The second one was about the importance of keeping your tools and containers clean and in good working order.



This the third one will be about how to trim your flowers and branches when you condition them and why. 

You'll need:

- a pair of flower snippers
- a pair of florist's scissors
- a pair of secateurs - if you are doing any thicker branches
- all your tools should be clean and sharp
- a clean florist's bucket filled with tepid water
- a bucket or similar to collect leaves and ends of stems 

1. Your flowers will have an elastic band around the stems and will probably have some kind of cellophane or be wrapped in paper for protection.

You will have to remove the elastic bands and the wrapping - use the pair of scissors to snip the elastic and cut the cellophane from the bottom up towards the top. Cutting it will be easier than to try to lift the flowers out of the cellophane. It's just too easy to damage the flowers if you try to do it that way. 

The one exception to removing string around flowers is if you have been given or sent a fancy hand-tied bouquet from a friend or florist. Do not remove the string or raffia around the flowers - it's there to hold the flowers in place and if you remove it - the lovely and probably very expensive arrangement will fall apart. Instead just trim the ends of the stems, remove any foliage below the water line and plunge the whole bouquet straight into a vase with water.  



2. Next remove all the lower leaves on the stems that would end up below the water line in the vase. Leaves sitting in water deteriorate faster than stems and produces bacteria that will shorten the life of the flowers.

How you remove the leaves depends on what kind of flower it is. Sometimes you can tear, sometimes you have to snip them off with a pair of scissors or snippers.

What's important is that you do it cleanly and don't tear or damage the stems. Any damage just like any leaves left on will further deteriorate in water and increase the growth of bacteria. 

Work on a flat surface and tidy away as you go along. 




3. You should now have pile of flowers with their lower leaves removed ready to be trimmed and put in water.

For any soft stems use either your floral snippers or scissors.  
Cut each stem at an angle - make the angle as sharp as you can - this exposes more of the stem and allows more water to be absorbed. But be careful not to to crush flowers that has soft or hollow stems - it's easily done. If this happens re-cut the stem with less of an angle. 

Cutting the stems at an angle also means that the stems will not sit against the bottom of the vase and reduce any uptake of water.

Make the cut just above a node - the slightly thicker part of the stem from where the leaves grow - on most flowers you can find the nodes at regular intervals along the stems. Cutting just above a node helps water absorption.

Have your container of water ready and after the cut immediately plunge the flower into water.




4. I cannot emphasise the importance of keeping your cutting tools as sharp as you possibly can.

It's very easy to crush the soft stems when you cut them - so the sharper and cleaner the cut - the less damage is done to the bottom of the stems, the more water will be absorbed and the longer the the flowers will last. 




5. You will need to use a pair of secateurs or strong snippers to cut any woody stems. Again, cut at an angle - above a node and then make another additional vertical clean cut up from the base of the stem. 

For a long time you were given the advise to crush or mash the bottom of woody stems with a hammer. Don't do that! It makes the perfect breeding ground for bacteria and less water will be absorbed because of the damaged cell tissues.

Again - after the cuts plunge the branches straight into some water.   



Here is a link to the first Arrange Your Flowers! - # 1 - Essential Tools for Cut Flowers

Here is a link to the second Arrange Your Flowers! - # 2 - How to Keep Your Cut Flower Tools Clean and Sharp

I'll be back in two weeks with more advice on how to 'Arrange Your Flowers!'. 

Have a Creative Floral Day!

~ xoxo ~


Ingrid

[Styling and photography © Ingrid Henningsson for Of Spring and Summer.]

3 comments:

Lisa Gordon said...

These posts are truly so helpful, Ingrid, and I thank you so very much for sharing them here. xo.

Frances said...

Ingrid, once again I thank you for being such a generous lover of flowers of all seasons.

You are wonderfully kind to share your valuable expertise with the rest of us.

(I confess that I have been smashing the bottom of holly and other Christmas branches for years. This year will be different. Promise! And, I am shocked to realize that holly and other Christmas branches will be with us pretty soon.)

xo

angie said...

love youe flower pics, angie