A guide for choosing fresh flowers

In a world where people think nothing of paying up to $5 for a upscale coffee, fresh flowers are still considered a luxury. Typically, flowers are purchased as gifts but not for oneself.

In a world where people think nothing of paying up to $5 for a upscale coffee, fresh flowers are still considered a luxury. Typically, flowers are purchased as gifts but not for oneself.

This did not change when pre-packaged bouquets of cut flowers became available at grocery and box stores, making it easy to grab a bunch before heading through the till. Depending where purchased, the cost of a bouquets of flowers is similar to two to four lattes.

There are exceptions. World wide, the demand for flowers increases at Christmas, Valentine’s Day, and Mothers Day, which in turn increases the cost to the consumer. Expect to pay more for flowers on these occasions.

Fresh-cut flowers will last at least two weeks if they are given proper care.

Be sure to purchase only fresh flowers. Look for ones that are in bud or still have buds attached. Flowers that are in full bloom are initially more attractive but the flowers will fade quickly as they are old.

Never purchase flowers that are wilting. They may recover for a short period but they are past their prime.

When purchasing a packaged bunch of flowers, look to see if how much water is in the container. Choose flowers that have wet stems. Customers lift the flowers out of the water to take a closer look at them and don’t always put them back in the water.

When choosing roses, look for stems where the roses buds are in an upright position. The buds should be showing colour but not fully opened. They should also be firm to the touch.

If the blooms are showing, look at the calyx, the green portion that holds the petals in place. On fresh flowers, it will be upright, but as the flowers age, the calyx will turn downwards.

Single-stemmed large roses are large with many petals. Older petals are often removed to increase the saleability of the flower. These flowers are not fresh and will drop their petals faster than fresh flowers.

Rose heads that have started to turn downward are called bullets. They will not open and should never be offered for sale.

If the weather is cold, cut flowers benefit from more than one layer of paper between them and the outside world. Ask the people at the till for another layer of covering.

Once the flowers are at home, re-cut the stems as they are put in a vase. Cut stem callas over to conserve moisture once the stem cannot access liquids. Re-cutting the stem and changing the liquid every four or five days will increase the amount of moisture that reaches the flowers, keeping them fresh longer.

Remove all leaves that will be submerged in water. If they are not removed, they will rot.

Use the crystals that come with each bunch of flowers. They add some nutrients to the water and keep fungus away.

Fresh flowers have a place in every home. Take care of them and they will be attractive for a few weeks.

Linda Tomlinson is a horticulturalist who lives near Rocky Mountain House. She can be reached at your_garden@hotmail.com.