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Tips for harvesting flowers for the longest vase life

  1. Cut flowers during the cool parts of the day, preferably early morning or evening

  2. Bring a clean vase or bucket with you to the garden. The rule of thumb is that it should be clean enough to drink from...dirt and bacteria can quickly clog the pores of flowers and reduce vase life.

  3. Remove all the leaves and foliage that will sit below the water line.

  4. Place flowers into clean water directly after cutting.

  5. Allow flowers to sit in cool water in a cool, dark location for a few hours to hydrate. In the heat of the summer, this means in a well air conditioned room or in a refrigerator. If you are outside, keep the bucket in the shade as much as possible while harvesting.

Stage of harvest for common garden flowers

  • Sunflowers - Ideally, cut when only a few petals are lifting off the center or any stage when it is not yet fully open. If fully open, make sure the center is not fuzzy as this indicates the flower is at the end of its life.

  • Zinnias - Hold the stem of the zinnia about 8" below the flower and wiggle it. If the flower head wiggles it is not ready to pick yet. If it is rigid, it is ready to pick. 

  • Dahlias - Cut when fully open or almost fully open. Make sure the back of the flower head is firm and not papery. Once inside, recut stem and place in very hot water (180 degrees F) and allow to sit for at least an hour while the water cools.

  • Cosmos - Cut when the blooms are just beginning to unfurl.

Interested in tips for harvesting other flowers, send me a note on the contact form on the home page.

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