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Tips for Fresh Flowers
Many real estate agents recommend staging your home when you put it on the market for sale. We certainly do. Showing your home in it’s best light, highlighting the best features, and showing buyers the best use of each space…all these are benefits of staging. Using fresh flowers to stage your home is another idea we love. It will add a touch of luxe and life to your staging.
Fresh Flowers Brighten our Lives
My grandparents were farmers in Michigan during the Great Depression. They did ok because they could provide for themselves as well as sell their produce and meat. They kept a greenhouse for their own pleasure, as my grandfather had a horticulture degree and they both loved plants and flowers.
My Grandmother once told me that they ended up benefiting from their greenhouse in ways they hadn’t imagined. It brought in extra income for them. Even in the darkest of times, people always had a few pennies for fresh flowers to brighten their homes, or to give to a loved one on a special occasion.
I hope that this article helps you brighten you home and the lives of your loved ones! (whether you are selling a home or not!)
Using Fresh Flowers in Your Home
Garden-lovers, you know you’ve had enough of the drab days of winter when you find yourself out in the yard, scanning the beds, in search of the first hint of green pushing through the thawing earth. When you keep your garden clippers next to the door, awaiting any opportunity to bring in some beauty.
My friend Barbara is a Master Gardener in Maryland. She has provided me with a super list of flowers that would be perfect to arrange and display in your home, whether you’re staging and selling, or just want to enjoy the beauty of fresh flowers. Flowers make your living spaces so friendly and welcoming.
You don’t have to grow them yourself. Your local nursery, big box store, or even grocery store probably has what you need. With this list, you’ll make the most of your flower purchases and be able to keep a long-lasting arrangement.
General Tips for Fresh Flowers
Here are some of Barbara’s best tips to get the most out of your fresh flowers:
- Spring bulb cuttings are best when they get a simple dunk in a vase filled with cool water, kept fresh with a teaspoon of household bleach and a pinch or two of sugar.
- Change the water every few days—or sooner if the water looks murky. The best method – rather than pulling the bouquet from the vase to change the water, is to simply hold the vase and flowers under the tap and flush till the water in the vase is clear.
- Use clippers — not scissors. Scissors will crush the stems and impede the uptake of water. Be sure to strip away all foliage below the water line.
- Warm water perks up wilted flowers; hot water (110 degrees Fahrenheit) stands up floppy stems.
- If you want to triple the shelf life of your bouquet, tuck the flowers in the refrigerator or a cool corner of the basement (40 degrees Fahrenheit) for six hours before putting them out for show.
- Branches and very thick stems do best with a vertical snip to soak up more water.
It doesn’t matter whether you cut them straight from the garden or pick up a bunch at the supermarket or your favorite flower shop. However, if you do cut from the garden, it’s best to cut in the morning, once the dew has dried. That’s when the stems are at their sturdiest, and filled with moisture, giving you the best chance for a longer show.
Are you interested in turning up your garden a notch? Eileen Anderson has great advise for you! A Realtor®, photographer, artist, landscaper and gardener extraordinaire, her website is full of ideas, inspiration, advice and encouragement. Check out
- Garden Ideas and Landscape Design.
- Convenient Monthly Garden To-Do Lists
- I especially enjoy getting inspiration from Eileen’s Garden Photography
Best Picks for Longer Bouquet Life
While I truly believe all flowers are beautiful, there are some that are top performers. Some flowers are beautiful in your yard, but do not make good cut flowers. The best combination of color, longevity and showiness will create a beautiful bouquet that will last more than a few days and will be easy care.
Here are Barbara’s top picks:
Best Spring Time Blooms
When to harvest: When most of the flowers on the stem are open.
Vase life: 7 to 10 days.
Special attention: These beauties need nothing but a quick snip and time to inhale their lovely scent.
Grape hyacinth (Muscari)
When to harvest: When blooms are half open.
Vase life: 5 to 7 days.
Special attention: None. That’s what I like!
Narcissus (Daffodil or Jonquil)
When to harvest: When fully open is best, though it’s lovely to have a spectrum of buds to blooms.
Vase life: 6 to 9 days—if you precondition (see below).
Special attention: Narcissi ooze a toxic sap, so keep them away from animals and babies;
to keep from knocking off other blooms, pre-soak in cool water about six hours before adding to your mixed bouquet. If you have room, tuck them in the refrigerator for the pre-soak.
You don’t need floral preservative, but be vigilant about changing the water.
A little Mythology: Narcissus, of Greek mythology, was the son of the river god Cephissus and the nymph Liriope, known for his unmatched beauty. He was proud of his beauty and had disdain for those who loved him. Nemesis, the goddess of vengeance, noticed this behavior and attracted Narcissus to a pool, where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus drowned. The flower grew in his place.
When to harvest: When entire bud is flush with color.
Vase life: 6 to 10 days.
Special attention: Tulips will grow one to two inches even after they’re cut. Keep that in mind if you’re designing an arrangement and scale matters. Also, tulips will bend toward the sunlight, so be sure to turn the vase often, unless you want leaning blooms.
Ranunculus or Buttercup
When to harvest: As soon as buds show color.
Vase life: 5 to 7 days.
Special attention: None.
There are different varieties of Ranunculus, some full of petals, like peonies, some are petit with as few as five petals.
Fun Trivia: The Princess Bride was Robin Wright’s first film, playing Princess Buttercup, after acting in the soap opera “Santa Barbara” for four years. The film is number 50 on Bravo’s “100 Funniest Movies”.
Sometimes called Corn Lily.
When to harvest: As soon as you can see a touch of color on some buds.
Vase life: 10 days to two weeks, even longer.
Special attention: None.
Orchids bloom from springtime into late fall.
When to harvest: Cut with a sterilized sharp knife when the bloom is 60 to 70 percent open.
Vase Life: All orchids are not suitable for cut arrangements, but the ones that are will last four to six weeks! Look for Cymbidium and Anthurium. Other varieties will last for 1 to 2 weeks if recut and misted periodically.
Special attention: Make sure slender stems are supported. Cut a second time under running water to remove air bubbles absorbed while stem was transported inside. Place immediately in vase of water. Air bubbles will decrease water uptake and diminish the vase life. Start the stem out in a cooler room about 55 degrees if possible, or for 15 minutes in the refrigerator.
When to harvest: Once the bud is showing bright color, and petals can be seen.
Vase life: 5 to 8 days.
Special attention: As soon as you cut peonies, place the stems in warm water to increase water uptake. Be sure to shake off any ants before bringing these perfumed beauties inside.
Although Peony doesn’t last as long as some of the other flowers on the list, they fill an arrangement beautifully. Even if they start to lose petals, they will still look beautiful to the end.
Also: evening stock and night-scented stock
When to harvest: When half the flowers on the stem are open.
Vase life: 7 to 10 days.
Special attention: If you remember to keep recutting the stems, you can add an extra three days to the vase life.
Supplies for Flower Gardeners
Best Summertime Blooms
When to harvest: Cut in the late afternoon or evening when the bloom has the highest level of food stored. Cut when the outermost petals have just unfolded.
Vase Life: 7 to 14 days.
Special attention: Set in a cool room away from bright sunlight for 24 hours. This allows them to take up as much water as possible at the start., allowing them to bloom longer.
When to harvest: Cut in the cool of the morning, when just open, as they will not open once they’re cut.
Vase Life: 4 to 6 days.
Special attention: Once cut, place stems in 2 – 3 inches of very hot water for about one hour. This conditions the stem to last longer.
Dahlias will benefit from floral preservative.
When to harvest: Cut when about 4/5 of the florets are open.
Vase Life: 6 to 8 days
Special Attention: Place away from direct sunlight and heat. Cut stem every three days and replace water. Delphiniums make exceptional dried flowers.
When to harvest: Cut when still in bud.
Vase Life: Up to 3 weeks if cared for. Yellow and white are most fragrant and have the longest vase life.
Special attention: If you don’t use floral preservative, freesias will benefit from cutting the stems and changing the water every day or two.
Remove spent flowers to extend the life of new blooms. Keep out of the sun and in a humid place to help them last longer.
When to harvest: Cut gladiolus stems that have several buds one quarter to one half open.
Vase Life: 6 to 12 days.
Special attention: Condition them from the start in warm water. They will not fully open in cool or cold water. Place in a dark, cool location for several hours to harden off the flowers before placing them in an arrangement, cutting off one inch of the stem. A floral preservative helps.
Gladiolus are sensitive to fluoride, causing petal damage and unopen florets. They are heavy drinkers, so check water every day.
Different varieties last a different time. Calla Lillies last three weeks.
When to harvest: At first bloom.
Vase life: 10 to 14 days.
Special attention: Keep in a cool space. Cut stems 1/2 inch ever three days and replace the water for longer life.
Flower food helps extend life.
In Irish lore: lily of the valley are said to form ladders for faeries to climb to reach the reeds they use to weave their cradles.
When to harvest: Early in the morning.
Vase Life: 5 to 12 days.
Special attention: Cut off the bottom inch of the sunflower stem, while it’s still submerged in water, at an angle before transferring it to the vase.
Replace the water and plant preservative every one to two days to extend life.
When to harvest: Cut in the morning after the dew has dried but before the heat of the day. Choose blooms that have begun to open but aren’t full.
Vase life: 2 weeks
Special attention: Overly warm temperatures or direct sun can cause the zinnias to wilt prematurely.
Fresh flowers add beauty and aroma to your home, as well as a welcoming touch. Whether your home is on the market and you want to add an extra beautiful touch, or whether you are trying to make your space more enjoyable for your own happiness,
For more inspiration: A favorite resource many gardener’s turn to is Suzy Bales’ Garden Bouquets and Beyond.
These bouquet suggestions are full of flowers that are especially good at showing off for a longer time than most. Sturdy flowers that don’t require too much primping and fussing are perfect for a busy homeowner… and for the home seller.
Thanks Barbara, for your expert help! Contact Us for more tips on selling your Frederick MD Home. 301-401-5119.
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