Floral Design 101
Working with Fresh Flowers
Whether you purchase cut flowers, grow your own or gather them from a field, select blooms that are full of life. You can tell just by looking at them if they are going to stand tall and strut their stuff, or droop and drop their petals by the time you put them in a vase.
- Purchase (or cut) firm, plump flowers.
- They should be free of disease and insects.
- Look for unbroken, clean stems.
- Healthy leaves indicate a healthy plant.
- Select buds showing color.
Flowers are composed of 90% water. Water keeps the flowers firm, fresh and alive. Water dissolves and transports nutrients throughout the plant. Facilitating the maximum flow of water and nutrients is the secret to longer lasting flowers.
Flowers require a healthy environment to live long and prosper.
They need to be in clean containers; free from bacteria that clogs the stems and prevents circulation of water and nutrients. Vases and storage containers need to be scrubbed and rinsed with a mild solution of Clorox before or after each use. Flowers also require clean air. An arrangement placed by an open window where traffic is heavy, or in a room where people are smoking will not last as long as one placed in a well-ventilated environment. Just as pollutants inhibit the health and life of birds, fish and animals, they diminish the beauty and life of cut flowers.
Cut flowers and arrangements respond to the temperature of the water.
Warm water encourages buds and closed flowers to open, and cool temperatures slow down development, adding longevity to the arrangement. Excessive hot or cold water causes plant damage. Flowers droop and wilt when placed in hot water and die quickly in very cold water.
Cut flowers require the proper kind and correct amount of nourishment.
Floral preservatives are special mixtures of chemicals that have been developed and perfected to prolong the life of flowers. They contain a sugar base to keep the flower’s energy level high, ingredients to inhibit the growth of bacteria and chemicals that lower the pH factor thereby enhancing water uptake. There are many brands of preservatives available in both liquid and powder form. They can be purchased at florist shops, craft stores and at many markets. Follow the instructions carefully. Do not use a little more or a little less. Some flowers are naturally short-lived (3-4 days), while others can last two weeks or more. Using flower preservatives is a life-prolonging tool for the serious flower arranger.
- You should not remove the leaves on mums when arranging them. The leaves keep the flower fresher longer.
- Full strength lemon juice misted on gardenias will prevent them from browning.
- When arranging gardenias and stephenotis, always wet your hands first, the oil from your hands will turn the flowers brown.
- When using tulips in a bridal bouquet: let the tulips sit in a vase until the flower has opened to the look you want. You can now dip the head of the tulip in egg white and this will prevent the flower from opening any further.
- Be careful when adding daffodils with other flowers in the same vase. The fresh cut daffodils can cause the other flowers to wilt earlier.