Make your cut flowers hold their heads up!



This is from the August 28th Marilynn's Master Gardening Newsletter.

Ever cut flowers from your garden only to have the heads bow over in defeat in a couple of days? Even though the flowers seem healthy, they always seem to do this. Yet, if you buy a bouquet from a FINE florist, they may seem to last longer. Do they have some fancy kind of roses? Mums? Or daisies? To listen to them talk, they have the absolute latest hybridizing marvel, screened specifically for marvelous cut floral displays.

While they MAY have gotten that new color or floral form from such tedious means, the way they get them to keep their heads up is much simpler! To their chagrin, I will now tell the secret...

The secret technique is wire. This inexpensive item may not even be seen in a bouquet. That's because the wire goes up the stem of roses and other stems with a soft center. These stems are more woody on the outside, but the insides are rather soft. It is fairly easy (although it does require SOME practice) to feed a wire up the stem until it is just inside the flower.

Instead of trying to feed it up from the bottom of the stem, ram it in from higher on the side (but still low enough that the entry point is hidden by the vase the flowers will go in). DON'T have your hand exactly on the other side of where you're ramming! It takes a bit of practice to avoid shoving it RIGHT THROUGH the entire stem, and it's quite painful if you've put your hand there for leverage... Keep your fingers close, but not ON, the pressure point. I would recommend supporting the stem by laying it on the countertop (to avoid accidentally breaking the stem) until you're ABSOLUTELY CERTAIN you have the hang of it. The objective is to go through one layer of harder outside and then start feeding the wire up when you hit the soft part.

If you do shove it all the way through, it's no problem (unless your hand was in the way!). It's just another place the stem can draw water. Just back the wire up to the soft part of the stem, change the angle to point upwards, and feed it in. From that point on, the flower will NOT be able to bow over. It'll hold its head high even when completely dead!

What about the kind whose stems are soft all over? This requires either a semi-artistic touch or fern fronds. You will need to wrap the outside of the stem. Use a wimpier kind of wire for this, since it will need to be bendable without putting much pressure on the soft stem. It takes a bit more care for this, since soft stems will concede easier! Wrap the stem from quite a ways down, in long loops (you do not need to "entomb" the stem- just provide enough loops to support it.). When you get to the flower, cut the wire so there's about 3/4 inch left. Shove the 3/4 inch into the bottom of the flower itself.

Where's the artistic touch come in? You will need to hide the fact that these soft stems are wired up. Pros will hide it so well you really have to examine a bouquet to find this. Chances are high, though, that if you have an expensive bouquet that isn't "nodding off" in a few days, you WILL find it! If you have a very cool home temperature, you may naturally get a few more days out of bouquets, but if you like the heat, like me, you can start looking after about a week. (If you have an expensive bouquet and there aren't wires, it shouldn't have been an Expensive bouquet! (for most kinds of flowers))

Hiding the wires can range from easy to fairly difficult, depending on the flowers and the amount of foliage still on the stems. Basically, they hide easier if it's a bouquet which is going to be viewed from one side. Just put the part of the flower where the wire could be seen going in, toward the back.

If you lack that artistic touch, that's where the fern fronds come in. Just cover up the stems with fern foliage and leave only the blooms showing (hiding the stems themselves altogether)! EASY!!

As for the kinds with the wires up inside the stems, you will have nothing to hide. The outside of the stem will do that marvelously. Just keep the water in the vase over the entry point, and there won't even be a hole showing to tip off the eye.

The wire to use for this is sold under various names. "Floral Wire" is a common name, but I use Christmas Tree Wire. This is the wire which, in the Christmas season, is sold to wire ornaments onto Christmas trees. It comes in various thicknesses, (although a store may only have one kind, causing trips to different stores), and is coated with green paint so it will blend in with the trees. This also makes it perfect for blending in with bouquets! It comes on a spool or some kind of little board. The Christmas tree wire is usually fairly cheap. I don't know about when it's called Floral Wire (you probably have to pay more for the word "floral"). I saw that Christmas tree wire would fit the need exactly, so I use that.

Happy Gardening!

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