Friday, July 28, 2017

How to harvest flowers from your garden

The North Texas area has received rain and landscapes are looking beautiful. Why not bring some of that beauty indoors by harvesting cut flowers from beds? Everybody loves a beautiful flower arrangement. By using flowers from your own yard, you can display your gardening prowess and add your own personality.

Tips for Harvesting Flowers from Your Garden

When cutting your flowers, cut flower stems at an angle to prevent the stem resting on the bottom of the vase and sealing itself over. Angular cuts also create a larger surface area for water uptake. Be careful to strip any foliage from stems that would sit below water level in a vase as these will simply decay, becoming slimy and smelly. You will also want to cut flowers in the morning for the best results. After you make your initial cuts and have stems indoor, cut stems under water to prevent air bubbles in the stems.

Wash the vase or container that you will use carefully. Bacteria will limit the life of your cut flowers. Always use room temperature water in your vases or container. Cold water has a higher oxygen content, which can also cause air bubbles to form in the stems of your flowers, blocking their water uptake. Spring bulbs such as tulips and daffodils are the exception to this rule as they prefer to be placed in cold water. However, plants growing right now will do best with room temperature water.

It is a good idea to add a small amount of bleach or Listerine mouthwash to the water to inhibit bacterial growth and make your flowers last longer. You only need to add about ¼ teaspoon per gallon of water. Further, when you receive flowers from a florist, you will usually receive a “flower food” packet to add to your water to further supplement what the flowers are taking up. You can make this at home by mixing lemon-lime soda 50:50 with water. This will supply needed dextrose for the flowers to thrive. Other cola products can be used but will color the water brownish, thus, the recommendation to use lemon-lime soda, which is clear.

Give some thought to where you place your vase or container. The vase life of your cut flowers will be reduced if they are placed too close to heat, drafts or direct sunlight. Also, keep cut flowers away from fruit bowls as fruit produces ethylene which causes cut flowers to deteriorate. Remove any dead or fading blooms to prevent bacteria damaging the healthy flowers. You will want to also change the water completely every few days.

Cut Flower Favorites from the Garden in Summer

The following are a quick list of flowers typically blooming in the summer that can be easily used for cut flowers: Sunflowers; Dianthus (including carnations, pinks, and sweet William); Snapdragon; Cosmos; Marigold; Zinnia; Butterfly Weed; Canna; daisies of different types; Coreopsis; Coneflower; Ferns; Gayfeather; Balloon Flower and Mexican Marigold. The typical vase life for many cut flowers can range from 3-4 days to 21 days and more. A good source of information on the vase life of flowers you would like to use as cut flowers would be county Master Gardeners groups, college horticultural programs or local florists. Gainesville is lucky to have all three in our area!

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