02 Aug 2010

How to Prepare Your Grocer Bouquet When You Get Home

Purple Calla

[Purple calla from a grocer bouquet]

First thing– before you get home- while you’re at the flower vendor, grab more packets of floral preservative.  See my post “Floral Preservative – Don’t Skip It” (http://floraphilia.net/?p=432) for more info.

With that out of the way, when you get home, cut away (don’t pull) any plastic or paper wrap.  Using a paring knife, re-cut about an inch off of all the stems while they are submerged under warm water.  Try not to use scissors because with tender flower stems you are reducing the ability of the cells to absorb/uptake water by mashing and compacting the stem.  Instead, take a paring knife and cleanly slice the stems at an angle. Cutting under water eliminates the potential for air pockets to form; air pockets will prevent full hydration.   Next, remove only leaves that will be submerged in the container water.  Unless you are working with hydrangeas or lilacs, don’t remove every single leaf because this reduces the flower’s overall ability to rehydrate.  Leaves above water help flowers hydrate.  Tender leaves underwater tend to decay very quickly and will promote flower rot.  Exceptions: for Hydrangeas and lilacs, you need to make sure to remove every leaf to ensure hydration to the blossom and to prevent rapid wilt.

For roses, remove thorns and the guard petals (if still not yet removed). Removing the guard petals, (dull, papery petals) will reveal the velvety, saturated petals of the rose beneath.

Use a sanitized container.  Use a preservative.   As blossoms fade, remove them.  Daily, add water or change it if it is cloudy and add a correct preservative solution.

Most flowers will need a floral preservative, which is mostly a concoction of sugar and an anti-bacterial agent; however, if you are dealing with solely orchids or tropicals, there is no need to use a preservative.  Just make sure you keep the water fresh and your flowers should last carefree for at least a couple of weeks.

Also, be sure to keep your flowers away from any ripening fruit.  See my “Don’t Mix Flowers and Fruit” post (http://floraphilia.net/?p=336) for more info.

To see tips on how to select the best bouquets, see my other post “More Fresh Flower Tips” (http://floraphilia.net/?p=342).

Most of all, enjoy!

First thing– before you get home- at the flower vendor, grab more packets of floral preservative.  One

packet is never enough and will make a weak solution that will actually accelerate flower demise.

Typically, the 1×1 inch preservative packets make a half-quart solution, and your average vase is one quart

in volume.  This means you will probably need at least two bags of the standard 100 gram pack preservative.

Look at the back of your package, it should tell you how much volume of water to use and pick up enough bags

of preservative to accommodate your container.  Using too little preservative is worse than using nothing,

so if you don’t have enough preservative, it’s better to use none at all. If you have extra solution, use it

to top off your water level or for water changes throughout the week.

With that out of the way, when you get home, cutaway, (don’t pull) any plastic or paper wrap.  Using a

paring knife, re-cut about an inch off of all the stems while they are submerged under warm water.  Try not

to use scissors because with tender flower stems you are reducing the ability of the cells to absorb/uptake

water by mashing and compacting the stem.
Instead, take a paring knife and cleanly slice the stems at an angle.
Cutting under water eliminates the potential for air pockets to form; air pockets will prevent full

hydration.   Next, remove only leaves that will be submerged in the container water.  Unless you are working

with hydrangeas or lilacs, don’t remove every single leaf because this reduces the flower’s overall ability

to rehydrate.  Leaves above water help flowers hydrate.  Tender leaves underwater tend to decay very quickly

and will promote flower rot.  Exceptions: for Hydrangeas and lilacs, you need to make sure to remove every

leaf to ensure hydration to blossom and prevent wilt.

For roses, remove thorns and the guard petals (if still not yet removed). Removing the guard petals,

(dullish, papery petals) will reveal the velvety, saturated petals of the rose beneath.

Start with a sanitized container. Use a preservative.   As blossoms fade, remove them.  Daily, add water or

change it if it is cloudy and add a correct preservative solution.

Most flowers will need a floral preservative, which is mostly a concoction of sugar and anti-bacterial

agents; however, if you are dealing with orchids, there is no need to use a preservative.  Just make sure

you keep the water fresh and the orchids should last for at least a couple of weeks.

Also, be sure to keep your flowers away from any ripening fruit.  See my “Don’t Mix Fresh-cut Flowers and

Fruit” post at http://floraphilia.net/?p=336 for more info.

To see tips on how to select the best bouquets, see my other post “More Fresh Flower Tips”

(http://floraphilia.net/?p=342).

Most of all, enjoy!

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28 Jul 2010

More Fresh Flower Tips – How to Select Fresh-cut Flowers

calla abstract

[Calla lilly]

Careful selection is key.  Get the healthiest, freshest bunch possible by taking a peek at the stems.  Consider how clean and fresh the cut is, and the color of the stems near the cut: are the stems black?  If so, pass.  Are the stem bottoms clogged with white gooey stuff?  Pass.  Is the bucket-water cloudy or dark?  If yes, you may want to look for a vendor that takes better care of their merchandise or at least find a bucket with clean water.  While you’re checking your stems, be careful not to drip water on the tops of other bouquets, because this encourages disease.

Now inspect the health and quality of the foliage and flowers.  If you see black or grey slimy spots, pass!!  In fact, I recommend choosing from an entirely different bucket. The black spots are a fungus that spreads like wildfire and is very common problem caused by moisture on the leaves.  (Careless customers or vendors that allow water to fall onto the leaves of the bouquets are usually the culprit.)  Don’t think you can simply remove the offending foilage because the disease has usually spread beyond your sight and you’ll likely find afflicted areas tomorrow that you thought were okay today.  I honestly think this is the most common problem I see at big box stores, and local grocers.

Many tropicals, protea, orchids, chrysanthemum and “Peruvian lilies” or alstromeria are among the longest lasting of cut flowers.  If those are available to choose from, I would go straight for those.  Look for netted socks around the mums (this protects them during shipment) and look for orchid and tropical stems to be individually packaged in water vials.  For tropicals, keep the display area humid by misting your flowers early each morning because too dry of air will hasten senescence.  Most South American roses will be open and spongey and fresh, so looking for only tight hard roses isn’t always necessary, it really depends on the variety and source.  Personally, I pass on roses unless they are grown organically.  Peonies should be tight, almost closed, if you expect to get decent shelf-life from them.  Tulips are easy to pick : if they are squeeky and the bottom stems are clean, they are prime.

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08 Sep 2009

Calla Line

If given only one choice of flower to shoot, it would be hands down, some form of calla.

I’d like to do a reshoot, but may have to wait another year; even then, I’m not sure I’ll ever find this kind of line again.

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31 Aug 2009

Outside Lands & Callas

Definitively: the Calla is the floral shape of sound.

SF’s Outside Lands needed flowers, needed in-and-out privileges (confinement is always bad) and shady, smoke-free places to sit and eat. Oh, and uh, some quiet places to veg. Strangely, going to a music festival made me want a quiet place: after a couple of hours you get beat-down by the sun, the peace pipers, the sweaty smelly throngs.

19 Mar 2009

For Flora Lau

for Anaïs, metaphor, Li-Young Lee, Faulkner, Alan Williamson, Louise Glück, Duras, Tori…