I love making bouquets from the flowers in my garden and wish I did it more often. Cutting flowers forces me to slow down and admire what’s in bloom. With clippers in hand I’m suddenly no longer in a hurry and have time to look around and think about colors and textures and how various flowers will complement each other.
Once I’m back in the house, there’s the pleasure of selecting just the right vase and then arranging the flowers so they’ll look their very best.
When I do take time to smell — and cut — the flowers, here’s how I make sure my homegrown flower bouquets last for as long as possible:
1. Remove all of the foliage from the bottom of the stems. I tend to do this outdoors as I’m picking. The only thing you want in the vase is stems and water.
2. Wash your vase so you’re sure it’s crystal clean. Then fill it with lukewarm water and flower food. Those little packets of flower food contain sugar, citric acid and a disinfectant to help keep the water clear. If you buy a big box of them they’ll last for years.
3. Re-cut each stem right before it goes into the vase. Use a sharp knife and make the cut on a 45° angle. The cleaner the cut, the easier it will be for the flower to draw water.
4. Once you have composed your bouquet, place it in a relatively cool location, away from heat and direct sunlight. If the house is warm, consider moving the flowers to a cooler room overnight.
5. After about two days, check the water in the vase. If it looks cloudy, lift out the flowers and pour out the old water. Give the stems a quick rinse and cut them about an inch shorter. Refill the vase with fresh water and flower food. Repeat every couple days.
Some flowers naturally last longer than others. You can keep your arrangements looking good by simply removing spent flowers and wilted foliage. I often downsize into a smaller vase as flowers start to fade.
If you would like your bouquets to smell as good as they look, check out this slide show of 11 fragrant, easy-to-grow flowers: Fragrant Flowers for Homegrown Bouquets.