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Cut Flowers 101... Plus, Build This Bouquet!

POSTED ON:
July 17, 2013 - 9:51am
Joan McDonald - Front Yard to Table
Joan McDonald shares her favorite gardening tips and how-tos from her charming, 1940’s-era cottage near Hampton Park. Her interest in gardening is well-rooted, fostered by her mother and polished hands-on in the industry of horticulture.

Here's the bouquet I'm making today. Do you ever think you can do these yourself? Easy, easy, especially if you've got the supplies growing right in your garden. The how-to is below, plus a quick lesson in conditioning cut flowers to extend their vase life. Let me know how your arrangements turn out!

 

{How to Cut and Prepare Your Flowers like a Pro}

Preparing your flowers—also known as conditioning—will extend the life of your arrangements. Methods vary depending on variety, but to keep things simple and easy here is the 101.

 

Clean everything. Be sure your snips are sharp and clean so you can make a clean cut, otherwise you may smash stems and inhibit the flowers ability to take in water. Having clean tools also insures you will not transfer pathogens to plants that are providing the floral. Wash and fill bucket with warm water. You can use a 1:10 ration bleach to water.

 

Add nutrition to the bucket of water. Mix floral food aka preservative (available at local florists) into bucket of water. If you do not have any on hand you can make a home recipe using a capful of bleach and two teaspoons of sugar per gallon of water. The sugar will feed your flowers while the bleach will inhibit bacterial growth.

 

Cut flowers. Ideally, you'll cut flowers in the morning before the sun gets hot—I like to harvest between 6 and 8 a.m. The flowers will be fresh and stems full of water. Cut only the healthy fresh flowers. Don't waste your time picking flowers that are past their prime. Make cuts on the diagonal to increase surface area of stem contact to water. Submerge all stems in bucket.

 

Bring them inside. This may seem redundant, but re-cut your stems underwater once indoors to allow the flowers a chance to drink. If you skip this step, they will lose half their vase life. Remove bottom third of leaves or thorns. Place bucket in cool area away from direct light for at least an hour overnight is optimal. This gives your flowers the chance to rehydrate. After this period of hardening they will be in their optimal condition to arrange.

 

 

{Make the Bouquet!}

You will need:

 

5 medium-size mop head blue hydrangeas

2  blue lace cap hydrangeas

6 fennel blooms

12 shasta daisies

6 pink yarrow

4 white yarrow

12 black-eyed susan

1 aspidistra leaf for wrapping stem

1 favorite vintage button

Sharp pair of clean snips

1 pair of sharp scissors

1 clean bucket to collect flowers

1 packet of floral food or make your own

Vase to hold flowers

Rubber bands to hold stems

1 piece of wire or floral pin to thread button

(Optional) favorite ribbon to tie around stems

 

Step 1: {Cut and prepare flowers from the garden.} If you did not grow what I've listed, just substitute flowers that are similar in palette and shape. Don’t let that hinder you from making a bouquet today.

 

 

 

Step 2: {Build your base.} For this particular design we will use the hydrangeas as a base. Group the mop cap hydrangeas and the lace caps together in your hand.

 

 

 

Step 3: {Add fennel blooms.} Place fennel in three areas, tucking under hydrangea at the bottom of bouquet.

 

 

 

Step 4: {Boom! It's daisy time.} Add daisies in a triangle surrounding the fennel flowers.

 

 

 

Step 5: {Add pink yarrow.} Tuck two stems of pink yarrow beneath each fennel bloom.

 

 

 

Step 6: {Place black-eyed Susans.} Add the black-eyed-Susans into the blue hydrangeas. The solid blue background will offset the bright yellow blooms.

 

 

 

Step 7: {Add white yarrow.} Disperse the white yarrow throughout the bouquet. This will visually soften the lines of the bouquet.

 

 

 

Step 8: {Secure the stems.} Place a rubber band or two around your bouquet. Place in a vase of water. Gather supplies to wrap stems: aspidistras leaf, vintage button, and wire.

 

 

 

Step 9: {Make wrapper for stems.} Place aspidistra leaves on flat surface. Using scissors, remove the main rib of the leaf by cutting a triangle. Select your favorite button and thread with stiff wire. You can also use a floral pin or an old school bobby pin to secure.

 

 

Step 10: {Wrap the stems.} Wrap the stems with the leaf tightly. Secure button by pushing wire into the bouquet. Trim stems to desired length.

 

 

Step 11: {Admire your work!} 

 

 

 

 



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