Beautify with Bouquets

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The Best of The Old Farmer's Almanac Gardener's Companion offers tips on cutting and arranging flowers to maintain the longest vase life.

  • Cut garden flowers in the morning or early evening, when the stalks are filled with water. Midday heat is stressful to plants, causing them to wither more readily when cut. Always use a sharp knife. Avoid scissors, which can pinch the water channels of the stalks. Place in a bucket with water. If possible, leave the flowers in a cool, dark spot for a few hours to let them stabilize before arranging.
  • Don't worry about cutting flower stems at an angle if you're simply arranging them in a vas. It doesn't make much difference to the flower. But a slanted cut helps if you are using floral foam; a stem with a point is easier to insert.
  • Remove all the leaves that will be under water in your vase, and remove any leaves above water that you don't really need. Foliage that sits in water will rot quickly; it smells terrible and gives off ethylene gas, which shortens the vase life of cut flowers.
  • Add a preservative to the vase water. Get one from your local florist. Or use a simple home remedy. Use any non-diet, carbonated drink that contains lemon and sugar, which are the same ingredients as in a floral preservative. Lemon lowers the pH, sugar replaces the glucose that the plant has lost but needs, and carbonation keeps bacterial growth down. Play around with different solutions, even as strong as half water, half preservative.
  • Display the bouquet away from full sun and hot and cold drafts. If you have a choice, keep it in your coolest room.
  • Remove old blossoms and yellow leaves from aging bouquets. Change the water and preservative often. Every other day is best.

The preceding excerpt is from The Best of The Old Farmer's Almanac Gardener's Companion. Gardener's Companion is on sale wherever books and magazines are sold. For more information on the Almanac's line of products, please visit

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