By Gabe McNab-
Growing beautiful flowers in the garden is a job with obvious rewards. With all the hard work that goes into creating a garden filled with beautiful flowers, it is sometimes hard to leave it all behind to go back indoors. Many garden flowers make great choices for vases and arrangements, but it is important to understand how to remove them from the plant correctly. Stems that are not properly cut can cause damage to the plant, and to the stem that you have removed. If you are not careful, the base of the stem can become dry too quickly, or can be crushed in the cutting motion, making it very difficult for the vascular structure inside to take up the water it needs to be rehydrated indoors.
The most important step to cutting flowers from your garden is to make sure that your pruners or snips are sharp. Sharp cutters are very important. It is important that they are kept dry and clean so that dirt and rust do not build up on the blades or in the hinge. Sharp cutting utensils make a clean dissection through the stems with little to no crushing at the base of the stems. Whenever possible, it is important to cut stems on as sharp of an angle as possible, as opposed to a direct cut through the stem. Longer, diagonal cuts, allow the surface area at the base of the stems to be greater, and this allows the exposed xylem and phloem structures within the stems to more quickly absorb the water and nutrients once they have been transferred to a vase. It is beneficial to the plant itself too. Cuts that are diagonal make it hard for water to pool up on the cut part of the stem, and this helps reduce the instance of rot and other diseases that may try to enter the plant through its exposed vascular structure.
It is important to recut, on an angle, the base of the stems with a sharp cutter directly before they are placed in a lukewarm vase of water. Try to recut the stems as close to being put in the vase as possible. Air bubbles enter the base of the stem very quickly, and the exposed tissues of the stems can become dry. Cutting the bottom two inches of a stem helps to remove any compromised tissue. Cutting the base of the stems under water is another way to avoid air pockets.
Flowers with hard, woody, stems as viburnum and hydrangeas can sometimes wilt once transferred to a vase. It is perfectly normal, and to rehydrate them, rinse the vase and refill it with warm water. Recut the base of the stems with sharp cutters, and they will perk up quite quickly in the warm water. Cutting stems with poor quality or dull pruners can crush the bases of the flowers and can damage the delicate tissues within the stem that absorb water and nutrients from the vase. Having a sharp and high-quality pair of cutters is important, and will help to ensure that you can get the most enjoyment out of your garden flowers.
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