There are many special techniques in keeping cut flowers fresh. Florists really need to know the nature of flowers, understand their water absorption behaviour.
Below you'll find some techniques professional florists use to make their flowers look fresh and last longer..
bending stems under water
cutting stems under water
putting stems in deep water
spraying back of leaves with water
splitting stems open
crushing stems with hammer
putting stems in hot water
putting stems in alcohol water
putting stems in water dissolved with alum
Bending stems under water
Keeping cut flowers fresh by bending stems under water. Water will be absorbed by the exposed surface in the water.
You might ask...which technique is better? Cutting off the stem or bending it ?
I would say bending the stem is better.
This is because, by bending the stem, the fibre from the stem are more exposed. This makes the surface for water absorption bigger.
This technique is suitable for flowers with stems that can be manipulated using the hand like carnations, lisianthus, spray mums, etc.
1. Prepare a clean container of water.
2. Hold the stem with two hands. Bend the stem under water.
3. By twisting action, break off the stem.
You can see that fibre from the stem are exposed. The more fibre exposed, the better the water absorption will be.
Cutting stems under water
Keeping cut flowers fresh by cutting stems under water.
This technique has been used a long time and one of the most common technique. All you need to do is place the stem under water and cut the end slantingly. By doing this, the cut surface is bigger so that more water could be absorbed by the stem.
This technique is suitable for flowers with long stems like gerbera, nerine, freesia, hyacinth, anemone, amaryllis, gladiolus, etc.
1. Prepare a clean container of water.
2. Immerse stem into water.
3. Cut the stem under water using floral scissors.
There are some florists who cut the stem under flowing water from the tap. But this is known to have no effect to the flower. The purpose of this technique is to utilize the water pressure to increase water absorption level right up to the upper part of the stem.
Putting stems in deep water
Keeping cut flowers fresh by putting stems in deep water.
This particular technique is to be opted when other simple techniques like cutting and bending stems under water did not give satisfactory results.
This technique also uses water pressure to push the water level upward to the flower. The depth of the water should be more than half of the height of the flowers, preferable right up till the position below of the flower.
If you position the flower vertically, more pressure will be applied and it will push the water level upward. You will need a tall container for this.
Suitable flowers for this technique are like ranunculus, anthurium, etc. As you can guess, flowers with long straight stems are suitable for this technique.
1. Wrap the flowers with paper until the stem is about 10cm exposed.
2. Cut off the end of the stem using floral scissors.
3. Place the flowers in a tall container filled with clean water and leave for about 1 hour.
Spraying back of leaves with water
Keeping cut flowers fresh by spraying back of leaves with water.
This technique involves creating a layer of water at the back of the leaves surface. To avoid the water absorbed by the stem from evaporation, we use this method.
It is actually doing things the other way around. Instead of promoting water absorption, we prevent from losing the already absorbed water.
If we spray water on the surface of the leaves, the leaves might fall off due to the weight of the water. To avoid this from happening, we hold the flowers upside down and start spraying on the back of the leaves.
Suitable flowers for this method are ivy, spray roses, etc.
1. Hold flowers upside down.
2. Spray water onto the back of the leaves. Be careful to avoid spraying water onto the flowers.
3. Until all the leaves are wet, shake the flowers to remove excess water.
4. Wrap the flower with paper, leaving about 10cm exposed.
5. Cut the end of the stems under water and leave it there for about 3 to 4 hours.
Splitting stems open
Keeping cut flowers fresh by splitting stems open.
This technique is used for flowers which have stems or branches that cannot be broken with hands.
Especially if the branch/stem is thick, they require more water absorption. So, the stem/branch is cut and split open using scissors to increase water absorption.
Suitable flowers for this technique are Cherry Blossom, Pussy Willow, Camellia, etc.
1. Cut the end of the stem using a sharp scissors. If the stem is thick, rotate the stem, at the same time, try to cut it.
2. Next, cut the end of the stem into half.
3. Rotate the stem 90 degrees, and cut into half again. Now, there is a cross-shape at the cut surface.
4. Using the scissors, cut the split to make it open wider. The wider the opening, the bigger the surface area to absorb water.
Crushing stems with hammer
Keeping cut flowers fresh by crushing stems with hammer.
The theory behind this technique is that, when you crush the stems with a hammer, the fibre of the stem are exposed.
The exposed area is the surface area for water absorption. The more fibre are exposed, the more area for water absorption is provided.
This technique is suitable for flowers having hard fibres in the stem and having thick branches which can't be penetrated with scissors.
Those flowers are like Cherry Blossoms, Peach flowers and Plum flowers.
1. Cut the end of the stem slantingly.
2. Place the stem on a hard surface and crush it with a hammer.
3. If the branch is sturdy, hit with the hammer a few times.
4. After that, place the crushed stem in a container of water.
Putting stems in hot water
Keeping cut flowers fresh by putting stems in hot water.
This technique involves immersing flower stems in hot water. By doing so, the air in the stem will be forced out, creating a vacuum in the stem.
Then, immerse in plain water, the stem will shrink and water will be forced up. The important point is that do not let the heat get too near to the flower.
To protect the flower, you can wrapt it with wrapping paper.
Suitable flowers for this technique are Cosmos, Strawberry Candle, Clematis, Mimosa, Stock, etc.
1. Wrap the flowers with paper, leaving about 10cm of stems exposed.
2. Prepare hot water (not boiling water) in a container.
3. Place about 3 to 4 cm of stems into the hot water.
4. After a few seconds, remove from hot water and place in cold water. Leave the flowers there for about 1 hour.
Putting stems in alcohol water
Keeping cut flowers fresh by putting stems in alcohol water.
After picking some flowers from the ground, you will notice there is white sticky liquid (sap) at the end of the stem.
If you place those flowers in water, the white sticky liquid will harden.
If this happens, the surface area for water absorption is smaller, resulting in low water absorption.
If you mix alcohol in water, and place the stem into the alcohol water, the hardened resin can be dissolved.
This method is used to treat flowers having white sticky resin naturally. Those flowers are like Blue Star, Agapanthus,
1. Mix alcohol/ethanol with water.
2. Put stem in the alcohol water.
3. After taking out from the water, clean the end of the stem and place in plain water for 1 hour to allow water absorption.
Keeping cut flowers fresh by burning stems.
Burn the end of stem to force air out, making the inside of the stem vacuumed. Then, make use of the water pressure to increase water absorption level.
This method is considered more aggressive than putting stems in hot water.
Flowers to opt for this technique are Roses, Clematis, Mimosa, etc...
1. Wrap flowers with paper leaving about 10 to 15 cm of stems exposed.
2. At the stove, put fire to the end of the stems about 1-5cm until the stems turn black.
3. You can cut the burnt black part but if you don't, it will still absorp water.
4. Place the burnt part in water about 1 hour.
5. Cut off the burnt part if you are using a transparent container for your arrangement.
Putting stems in water dissolved with alum
Keeping cut flowers fresh by putting stems in water dissolved with alum.
Materials like hydrangea easily wither. Put stem into water already dissolved with some alum.
Alum is hydrated aluminium potassium sulfate and it is acidic. This lets the passage for water absorption in the stem to soften.
Flowers that are suitable for this treatment are Vibernum Snowball, Hydrangea, etc.
1. Dissolve some alum in water.
Alum is quite difficult to be dissolved in water. You need to apply some force to dissolve it. The higher the concentration, the better results you will get.
2. Put the stem in dissolved alum for a few minutes.
3. After that, remove from the dissolved alum and put in plain water for about 1 hour.
These techniques will help in keeping cut flowers fresh. It's such a waste to not let the beauty of flowers to be enjoyed longer.