As the new kid on the Derby Farm block, I’ve been working hard to learn proper care for the many different flowers and greens we offer. Residual knowledge from the couple of years I spent working at a florist in my teens and 20s has been more hindrance than help because it was so (very, very) long ago that techniques have changed. So I asked Barbara to tell me “the latest” on flower care and specifically—after a few larkspur suffered a premature demise—how “not to be a flower killer.” As I typed up a condensed version for our Arlington High interns, it occurred to me that customers might also benefit from this easy summary of Derby Farm flower advice. So here goes:
Be a Flower Lover . . .Your flowers are worth a few extra minutes a day! Just tend to the three most important things:
- Water—Make sure they have plenty of water, and replace the water every day.
- Stems—Every time you place the flowers back in water, re-cut the stems at an angle with pruning sheers or a knife. Cut high up enough that you can see the fresh green part of each stem.
- Leaves—Strip leaves from the lower part of the stem so that none are left under water.
Avoid these flower-killers like the plague:
- Fruit – Fruit releases ethylene gas as it ripens, and the gas will cause many flowers to decay more quickly.
- Dead leaves and petals – As with fruit, the gases from dying flowers, as well as the bacteria, will speed the decay of other flowers. Bacteria is enemy #1 for flowers, and leaving rotting leaves and petals in the water is one of the quickest ways to kill them.
- Heat and sunlight–All flowers are best kept cool and in a non-drafty environment. Heat is a double killer of flowers because it also helps breed bacteria.
- Unclean or Low Water—The very least any flower lover should do is make sure your arrangement has sufficient water and that the water is always clean. Don’t put anything in the water except packaged flower food. The tips you may have heard about putting household items in the water (such as bleach, sugar, soda, or pennies) may do more harm than good.
If you’re vigilant about these basics, that should be all you need. But if you want tips about specific flowers, feel free to come on in to the shop, and I’ll share my multi-page version with you!