When to harvest cut flowers

purple flowers
(Farm and Dairy file photo)

When flowers are cut, they are removed from their source of water and food, University of Minnesota Extension explains. That being said, cut flowers require specific care.

1. Harvest in the morning

Harvest cut flowers in the early morning, after the dew has dried. Respiration, which influences how much water flowers need, is low in the early morning, Washington State University Extension says. Respiration rate not only influences cellular turgidity but also carbohydrate consumption. Both of these factors influence the flowers’ vase life. Therefore, harvest flowers close to dawn when respiration is low so that they will last longer.

Zinnias (Katie Woods)

Post-harvest cut flower tips: 5 tips for keeping cut flowers fresh

Flowers can be harvested in the evening, too. Avoid harvesting cut flowers during the heat of the day, because flowers can suffer from heat stress.

2. Cut stems at an angle

Cut stems at an angle with pruning shears or a sharp pair of scissors, Colorado State University Extension suggests.

Remove any leaves that will be under water when the flowers are placed in a vase. Cut stems again when you’re ready to arrange flowers in a vase. Cutting stems while they’re underwater will keep air out of stems.

3. Put flowers in water immediately

Have a bucket of water with you when you harvest flowers. Since cutting flowers separates them from their source of water and food, have a bucket full of water handy and ready to be used to store cut flowers until they can be transferred to vases. Flowers should also be placed in the shade if possible to aid with limiting water loss.

sunflowers in jar
Sunflowers (Katie Woods photo)

4. Know flower details

Know specific details on each species and variety of flowers. All flowers should be harvested at the desired maturity, whether it’s 50 percent, 75 percent or 100 percent open blooms. Certain flowers are better off if harvested when blooms are at least 75 percent open, while others will continue to open blooms if harvested at 50 percent open.

Sources: Colorado State University Extension, University of Minnesota Extension, Washington State University Extension


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