Sunday, March 29, 2009

Fresh Flowers, Recession-Style

I adore flowers and am lucky enough to work as a fill-in floral designer at a local florist a few times a year.  Recently I visited a blog on which people shared what they could not give up in the recession. Many said “fresh flowers.”  So I thought I’d post some ideas for enjoying fresh flowers without going broke.

Gerbera daisies (pictured above) are pretty reasonable, and you don’t need many to make an impact.  However, they’re very susceptible to bacteria and need a very clean vase.  Having stems wired at flower shop will make them last a lot longer.  If they wilt, re-cut the stems and put them in deep, hot water for a few hours.   
Lilies last up to 2 weeks, and often smell wonderful.  Buy stems with lots of buds, and pick off pollen-covered anthers.
Alstroemeria last 1-2 weeks and are reasonably priced.
Carnations have been maligned as old-fashioned, but there are simply gorgeous colors, like the pale green “Prado” above.  To modernize them, I like to display them in bunches without other flowers.  They last up to 2 weeks, and smell good.  Changing water is important.   
Anthuriums can last up to 6 weeks in the vase. 

Other ideas:  Vases make a difference.  If you have a wide-mouthed vase you’re going to need to spend more to make the flowers stand up and look arranged.  I like to use several heavy-bottomed, skinny-necked vases and have one stem (like a gerbera) in each. 

Also, think about where you spend the most time and have your flowers in the small spaces in those areas—like on a table by a reading chair; by your bed; on the kitchen table.  You’ll get a bigger impact from a small arrangement than if you tried to decorate a whole huge living room with flowers.  In my tiny house, this rule of thumb is a given.

Finally, remember these tips for preserving your flowers. 

Always remove foliage that will be below the waterline. Otherwise bacteria can develop on it, and kill your flowers.

Change water frequently.

Cut flower stems at an angle with a sharp knife (not scissors) when you get them home.  Recut them if you think about it every other day or so. 

Putting the vase vase in a cool place or refrigerator at night will prolong vase life. 

Keep away from fruit (flowers don’t like ethylene gas), heat, and sun. 

Enjoy flowers!  They add so much to daily life.  Don’t they? 


Zuzana said...

Ah, what an informative post.;)))
And a truly lovely post to an avid gardener such as me.;)
I love flowers and plants and I always try to have fresh cut flowers in the house. I also love to spend my free time gardening and most of all I love the scent of flowers.;)) As a matter of fact, I posted about that today.;)))

Imogen Lamport, AICI CIP said...

Wow - great advice - I never knew about the hot water and gerberers

Can you tell me is it true about putting sugar or lemonade in the water keeps flowers longer?

Anil P said...

The Gerbera daisies are picture pretty, would put a smile on any face.

sallymandy said...

Imogen: good question. The reasoning about the lemonade is, you give the flowers sugar for "food," and the acid in the lemon cuts down on bacterial growth. However, there are so many competing opinions about this that I decided not to say anything about flower food but instead focus on changing the water often. That's because the biggest problem is bacteria, and clean water (and not having foliage beneath the water line) should take care of that.

I found the beginnings of a research paper from an American university questioning whether the floral food you get at the florist makes a difference. The woman who trained me said it can actually make gerberas wilt faster.

Sometimes people drop of bleach in the water for gerbs to kill bacteria. I think that's okay.

Also, I think people are undecided about the need for flower "food." They're not going to grow anymore once they've been cut.

That's a long answer to your question. One thing is sure: keep the water clean. That's the kind of simple rule my feeble brain can embrace!

sallymandy said...

Protege: that's fantastic...I wish I was a gardener, and I admire people who have that knack. I just don't have it. Funny, because I adore the forms and colors of flowers like nothing else.

Once I tried a cutting garden in my back yard. It came in so stunted and pathetic that my darling hubby called it my "bonsai cutting garden." That's one of my favorite jokes of his.

Now, I have some containers every summer from a nursery I trust. I'm going over to your blog today to see what you've said about your garden.

drollgirl said...

what a fantastic job!!! and thank you for the tips. flowers are always a good way to cheer up!

Gal Friday said...

Every other week, I always treat myself to inexpensive bunches of cut flowers(from the supermarket or the little Japanese flower shop at the top of the road)in the cold months and my husband often brings home more elaborate bouquets for me--I think a house needs some flowers.
How LUCKY you are to occasionally work as a floral designer!(I love the fresh smell of the inside of a florist's)
And thanks so much for the tips especially about avoiding nearness to fruit and about the Gerberas(mine never last long, so even though I, too, love their shape and colors, I don't usually buy them anymore). For inexpensive flowers for the house, I like all white bunches of pom pom mums or carnations . I also love colorful ranunculus --the way the stems getget all twisty and even a cheap arrangement of a few flowers is striking.
My problem is that I gave up all shopping, including flowers, for Lent, thinking I need to deprive my self. Soon(I hope) I can get flowering branches like forsythia and pussy willows in the house from outside.

Maria Killam said...

I adore the scent of casablanca lilies. Most people don't realize that you have to CUT the stems to fit inside the vase. I go to my sisters place and she's just taken the whole bouquet out of the package and stuck it in the vase where it sits there uneven. We need a lesson like this more often!

ceecee said...

Good ideas! I carried Gerbera daisys when I got married because, for some strange reason, that was all I could find in New Orleans on that day! I have no idea why! I love them though. And white lilies are my all time favorites, but they make my husband sneeze and he hates the smell. Oh - I like them all!

P.S. Madeleines are easy, but you must have a shell shaped mold for them to be authentic! Most better cookware shops and catalogs have them. They are so delicious, buttery, and lemony!

Seeker said...

Love flowers, such great information, thanks for sharing


Relyn Lawson said...

Oh! Thanks for the great tips. I do love flowers. It's nearly tulip time here in Missouri.