December can be a chilly month outdoors but it is easy to bring the warmth of a summer’s day inside by picking up some cut flowers and placing them with some greens to create an attractive arrangement.
Most cut flowers arrive at the local florist and grocery stores in water that is already prepared with ‘flower food’ that keeps the flowers fresher longer than just plain water.
The flower food is a combination of bleach, citrus acid and sugar which helps keep the water fresher. The bleach controls the damaging bacteria that is found on all living things and the citrus acid (lemon juice) lowers the water’s pH or acidity, which also helps control the damaging bacteria. The sugar is a replacement for the natural sugars that the plants produce and share with the flowers to keep them fresh and brightly colored.
To create a flower arrangement, start out first with a clean container then add a packet of flower food and clean cool water. Stir to dissolve the flower food.
Take each flower stem and remove the lower leaves so only the stem will be underwater. If you have purchased roses, it is important to trim off about a half-inch of the bottom of each stem in a separate glass of clean cool water so that the first thing that goes up the stem is fresh water which will keep the roses hydrated for a long time. The stems should be cut at an angle so the cut end will not stick to the bottom of the container and cut off the supply of water. Other flowers can benefit from being cut underwater but roses demand it.
Once the stems are leaf-free and the bottom of the stem has been trimmed, they can be added to the flower vase. Greenery can be purchased from the same stores or can be found in the landscape to place around the flowers to frame and highlight the colors and textures of the flowers.
Fresh water should be added as needed every two to four days.
The stems of roses should be trimmed at an angle underwater every two to four days to help them stay fresh for up to two weeks.
(Editor’s Note: Ginny Rosenkranz is a commercial horticulture specialist with the University of Maryland Extension.)