Harvesting your Florals
Written by Barry Thompson
One of the great things about having a beautiful flower garden, is being able to bring some of that beauty inside as cut flowers and knowing you’ve grown them yourself makes it even more of a pleasure.
So how do you get the best combination of satisfaction and pleasure from your outdoor garden, and bring it inside? If you really enjoy having flowers inside, it pays to incorporate some of your favourite cut flower varieties into your garden plan - and also give some thought to a seasonal approach. This will allow you to have flowers available all year round and cheerful fresh flowers can help keep the spirits up during the dull winter months.
Feeding your garden is also important to help keep your plants healthy and producing as many flowers as possible. I suggest applying an 8/9 month controlled release fertiliser granule in early spring, as this will provide the base nutrition your plants will need right thru the growing season till the end of autumn. Then supplement that with regular liquid feeding with a high potassium fertiliser applying every one to two weeks. Liquid feed is absorbed thru the foliage and roots of the plants, so can be applied with a gardener sprayer or a watering can. The high ratio of potassium maximises the production and development of flowers, where as a fertiliser higher in nitrogen and lower in potassium will promote stronger leaf growth with less flowers.
Once you are ready to start cutting your flowers, there are a few tips that can help double the vase life of your flowers. First is having a clean vase, it’s best to wash your vase after each use thus ensuring there is no dust or other contaminates effecting the water hygiene. Secondly is the water itself, most of you will be aware that flower stems can develop air locks in them if they are left out of water too long. but minor air locks can also develop if there is too much oxygen in the vase water - this can reduce the stems ability to take up water. The best way to reduce this risk is to boil the water first then let it cool to lukewarm before use, and then thirdly mix in some cut flower food/conditioner. There are ready made sachets available or you can make up your own. There are three ingredients in the mix - Citric Acid, Lemon juice or powder, this helps lower the PH of the water which helps the flowers stay vibrant and the stems absorb water. Sucrose sugar, in the water replaces the flowers food source they lose once cut from the plant helping them stay healthy and last longer. Finally Sodium Hypochlorite, common household bleach which is an anti – microbial agent so prevents the build up of bacteria and mould in the water which can make the water cloudy and cause the flower stems to rot.
I use a mix of – 2 x Tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 x Tablespoon of sugar and ½ a teaspoon of bleach per litre of water.
So now for the cutting of the flowers! Firstly either harvest them in the cool of the morning or evening rather than during the heat of the day, make sure to use a sharp pair of by-pass secateurs - then once inside I lay them on a chopping board and re cut the bottom at a 45% angle with a sharp knife, this causes less damage to the stem and helps the take up water, then remove any foliage or thorns that would be below the water level. I then replace the water and food/conditioner every 4 or 5 days and trim approx. a cm off the bottom of the stems.
Finally I position the vase in good light but not in hot direct sunlight and in warm conditions I try and mist the flowers once or twice a day.
A lot of you will already know all this and more but for those new to looking after cut flowers I hope you find this helpful. Happy gardening and flower arranging!22 October 2019