Basic Florals
Taught by Nora Creeach of Bluebonnet Crafters

Working With Fresh Flowers

When working with fresh flowers it is important to condition the flowers before making the arrangement. This will help stretch the life of the fresh flowers and therefore the length of time your arrangement can be used. These simple steps will lengthen the life of the flowers.

Your vase and tools should be sparkling clean so you do not transfer decay bacteria to the new arrangement while working on it. You should also remove all leaves that will fall below the water line since these will decay and shorten the life of your florals.

To preserve the life of the flower and lengthen it stems should be cut every two to three days. You should use a sharp knife or scissors cutting the stem underwater and on an angle to prevent them from resting flat on the bottom impeding the absorption of the water. This prevents air pockets in the stem that will block the intake of water and lengthen the life of your florals.

Commercial flower food is available at florists, nurseries and most places where fresh flowers are sold. This should be added to the water. The water should be changed in the container every two to three days and fresh food added.

Arrangements should be displayed where they will not be placed in a draft, direct sunlight or where heating vents will blow across them. The extra effort used to harvest and condition flowers prior to making arrangements is repaid with fresher, longer lasting floral arrangements. Skimping on the time at this step wastes the time spent making the arrangement since it will not last long.

If you are cutting flowers from your own garden it is important to cut them early in the morning, preferably while the dew is still on them. Flowers cut before they have reached full bloom will last longer in your arrangement. Cluster flowers last longest when cut with approximately half the blooms still in bud form. Cut stems should be immersed in warm water as soon after cutting as possible.

Cool water should be used on bulb type flowers.

Those flowers that ooze a milky liquid when cut should be dipped in the soil before placing them in water. Flowers should be left in a cool dim room their stems immersed in buckets of water containing floral food for a minimum of six hours, maximum of one day. This will allow the florals to recover from the shock of being cut and absorb as much water as possible before they are used in the arrangement. Buckets that hold the flowers loosely and do not crowd them make the best conditioning vessel.

Some flowers will require special treatment. Woody stems such as roses should have the base of the stem slit a short distance to help with the water absorption. Those flowers with a hollow stem should be filled with water and the opening blocked with a cotton ball or two. Plant material that exuded a milky ooze should be singed until blackened to seal the milky substance in the stem. The floral preservative is added to the conditioning buckets following package directions. When the arrangements are made fresh water and preservative are mixed for use in the arrangement.

If flowers are purchased from a florist their conditioning should be complete but it is helpful to cut the stems again underwater and recondition them if time allows following the previous instructions. If time permits foliage greenery should include an additional 3 hour period completely covered in water prior to the usual conditioning standing upright in the buckets. Watch the flowers and foliage checking for wilting flowers and stems showing that the water is not being absorbed. These florals should be dipped in boiling water for approximately 10 seconds to help them absorb the moisture when returned to the conditioning bucket. After conditioning trim the stems before arranging them. If you notice some of the flowers beginning to droop trimming the stems and placing them back in fresh water with floral food may help revive the individual flowers. If it does not and they continue to droop remove them from the arrangement to prevent them from decaying and causing others to be affected.

Below is a chart showing the Flowers of the Month. The meanings listed in the chart may not be exactly the same as those listed in your flower meanings. In your floral meaning section we have combined three separate lists of meanings. Those listed in the chart would be a fourth list and we did not include it or change it. Over time the floral meanings have changed. The Victorian used bouquets to deliver messages and even their handling of a nosegay signified a meaning such as if a lady touched the nosegay to her lips it meant she accepted the meaning of the nosegay. A lot of this has been lost in modern times but we are still left with flowers for special occasions and having special meaning and the chart below is the more modern floral designation.

Flower of the Month

Month. Flower Name Botanical Name Meaning.
Jan. Carnation Dianthus Capriciousness Fascination
Feb. Violet Viola Faithfulness
Mar. Daffodil  Narcissus Regard
Apr. Sweet Pea Lathryrus 
I Think Of Thee
May Lily Of The Valley Convallaria Majalis Humility
June Rose Rosa (Red Rose)
(White Rose)
I Am Worthy Of You
July Larkspur(Delphinium) Delphinium Ajacis Ardent Attachment
Aug. Gladiolus Gladiolus Splendid Beauty
Sep. Aster  Callistephus Daintiness Elegance
Oct. Calendula Calendula Grief
(English Marigold)
Nov. Chrysanthemum Chrysanthemum Optimism Morifollium Cheerfulness
Dec. Narcissus Narcissi Conceit, Self-Love

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Basic Florals

Bluebonnet Crafters
Bluebonnet Village Craft Network

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