Care Tips for Your Spring Cut Flowers

After the winter weather, the warm days and clear skies we had this weekend were a tantalizing hint that the cold will be gone for good soon – at least for the season. Sunnier skies, warmer weather and fun, outdoor activities are on our doorstep! I spot my boots on the shoe rack and long to put them away until next winter. Even though the weather hasn’t quite caught up yet (it’s getting there!) spring is here, and so are the happy colors and delightful scents of spring flowers and bulbs.

So, when you come by and pick up a bunch of these bright beauties,  what do you need to know about them to keep them cheering your home longer?

Daffodils: Daffodils arranged in a vase all by themselves make for a cheery, eye-catching design. If, however, you want to arrange a bouquet with daffodils and other flowers, keep this in mind: daffodils secret a sap when their stem is cut. This does the daffodils no harm, but it will cause other flowers in the arrangement to wilt. So here’s what we do when making mixed arrangement of daffodils and other flowers: we cut the daffodils to the height we want them and put them in a separate vase of water for about an hour to allow the sap to drain. Then – without cutting their stems again – we rinse them and add them to our arrangement.

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Hyacinth: With their bright colors and sweet fragrance, hyacinth are very popular. When bringing hyacinth home for a cut-flower arrangement, don’t cut the woody, bottom part of the stem if you don’t have to. This helps the hyacinth draws up water, and it will last longer this way. If you’re working with hyacinth bulbs it’s a good idea to wear gloves. The bulbs are acidic and can cause skin irritation.

hyacinth        hyacinth 123

Tulips: Did you know that not only do their petals open and close depending on the temperature in a room, but tulips will continue to grow a few more inches after they’re cut? This movement in the design makes for a wild and alluring arrangement.

cezanne quote   friday

Anemones: When arranging with this beautiful, whimsical flower keep in mind that the petals will open in the light and warmth, so while anemones are pretty hardy, despite their delicate look, keeping them in a cool area in your home will help them last longer. Anemones will also continue to grow after they are cut!

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Dandelions’ Poinsettia Project

A year ago – December 2011 – Roseann, one of our designers, put a broken poinsettia stem into a bud-vase of water thinking it would give her a few days of pleasure before it died. Over a year later, surprising us all, this stem has survived…the leaves have faded in color, but it’s still alive! 

So this year Roseann has a new poinsettia stem in a bud vase, next to the old one, and we’ll see how long this one lasts!!

How are the poinsettias you bought this holiday doing? Hopefully, great!! Here’s how you can care for them and get them to re-bloom next season:

1. Keep caring for them as you have been during the holiday (Keeping them away from the cold, in warm rooms, and making sure they get enough water and lots of light.) If the leaves have already shriveled or fallen off, start watering your plant less.

New poinsettia bract2. In March (around the 17th – St. Patrick’s Day), when the bracts (colored leaves) fade, cut the stems back to 8 inches above the soil line.

3. Water your plant less than you’ve been watering it, allowing it to dry out more.

4. Lightly fertilize your plant with a balanced all-purpose plant food every 3-4 weeks.

5. When it warms up outside, place the plant outdoors – first in indirect sunlight, and then direct sunlight. Avoid temperatures under 50 degrees throughout the summer. When the new growth appears, water your plant more frequently.

6. In early July, around the 4th, cut back the new growth on the stems, and re-pot  the plant, if it needs it.

7. In early September, when fall temperatures begin to drop, move your poinsettia plant back inside, but make sure it gets 6 or more hours of direct light.

8. October 1st to December 1st, keep your plant in complete darkness for 14 hours, giving it 10 hours of natural light daily. This will set the buds and cause the bracts to color. Any exposure to light during the dark hours will delay blooming.

9. In  early December, stop fertilizing your poinsettia and start caring for it they way you did during the holiday.

Old and new poinsettiaGood luck on your poinsettia project. Let us know how your plant does. We’ll definitely keep you posted on Roseann’s poinsettia cuttings.

Tips for Getting your Centerpiece to Last

The first thing you should know about your floral centerpiece is that the cut stems are inserted into a floral foam, also known as oasis. Oasis is great because it retains water well and helps the arrangement hold it’s design. Flowers in foam can stay vibrant and beautiful for days, but they need care. The downside to oasis is that where you can see the water level in a vase, in floral foam the water level is not as obvious. Because of this, many a centerpiece dehydrates and dies earlier than it should. So it is important to make sure your floral arrangement has plenty of water.

How to check the water level: Touch the oasis. If you press it lightly you should feel moisture.

When to water: Because it’s cold outside, and we’re all keeping our homes warmer, the water from the floral foam is going to evaporate faster, so you should check the moisture level every day.

How to water: Move your centerpiece to the sink, or to a surface that won’t be damaged by water, in case you spill. Carefully find a space in the centerpiece, or at the side of the container it is in, where you can see the oasis, or a space between the oasis and the container, and carefully pour water onto the oasis or into the space around the foam, allowing time for  the water to be absorbed.  Slowly add water until the oasis is thoroughly saturated.

Enjoy your flowers, and this wonderful season!!

                                 

How to Care for Your Poinsettia

Poinsettia -  Eugene, OregonThe vibrant red that poinsettias display (they also come in other shades including orange, cream, pink, even purple) have made them a popular plant around the Christmas season. But how do you care for this lovely plant? Here are some tips to help you get your poinsettia to last.

Temperature:

Poinsettias are tropical plants, so they don’t like the cold. During the day, be sure to keep it in a room that’s between 65 to 75 degrees, and at night, if possible, keep it in a room that’s a little cooler (55 to 60 degrees.) Poinsettias also don’t do well with sudden changes in temperature, so keep it away from the door so it doesn’t feel the draft, and if you keep it by the window, don’t allow the leaves to touch the glass. Sudden temperature changes will cause the poinsettia to drop it’s leaves. Poinsettias also like humidity, so if your plant’s leaves start looking a little crinkly around the edges, you can mist it.

Light:

Poinsettias love light, so make sure it gets as much as possible throughout the day.  dec 007

Watering:

Wait until the surface soil is dry to the touch and then water your poinsettia, allowing enough water so that it runs out of the drainage holes in the bottom of the container. Poinsettias prefer moist soil rather than sitting in water, so it is important that you allow the excess water to drain out after watering. Once a poinsettia starts to droop it will soon begin to drop it’s leaves, so it is important to check the soil frequently.

There is no need to fertilize your poinsettia plant during the Christmas season.

Contrary to popular belief, poinsettias are not poisonous to people or animals, but they are a delicate plant and their stems break easily, so be sure to keep them where a curious pet or child cannot reach them.

If you keep an eye on your poinsettia, it should last just fine throughout the season. In a few weeks I’ll let you know how to care for your poinsettia after the Christmas season.

Roses

Roses are without a doubt one of the most popular flowers year round. As the rose often symbolizes love and beauty, different colors hold their own meanings. Here is a guide to the meanings of rose colors:

Red: Love, Respect

Yellow: Joy, Friendship

White: Innocence

Peach: Desire

Lavender: Enchantment

Pale Pink: Modesty, Grace, Joy

Dark Pink: Thankfulness

Orange: Fascination

Caring for your holiday Poinsettia

Photo used under Creative Commons from SusanReimer

A beautiful poinsettia plant is a wonderful addition to the home to decorate for Christmas. Whether you purchased one for yourself or have received one as a gift, questions often arise about how to best care for it. Poinsettias come primarily in red but are also available in white, pink and peppermint.

Here are some tips for keeping your poinsettia in top shape throughout the season:

Water: Check the soil daily and water if the soil is dry to the touch. If your poinsettia has been placed in a decorative pot or basket take the plant (still in its plastic container) and water over the sink allowing the water to drain out of the holes in the bottom. Then place the plant back in its pot or basket making sure the plant doesn’t sit in water.

Photo used by Creative Commons from ewen and donabel

Light: Lots of light are ideal for these tropical plants. South, west or east facing windows are preferable over a north facing window. Don’t let the poinsettia actually touch the window, however, as the cold pane will damage the plant.

Temperature: Poinsettias enjoy a consistent temperature of 65-70 degrees during daylight hours. Avoid placing the plant in areas that are exposed to hot or cool drafts (near a heater or door). At night, move the plant to a cooler location but not below 60 degrees.

Problems:

Wilting: A poinsettia without enough water will begin to droop. Give the plant a good soak and allow the water to fully drain out the bottom.

Leaf Drop: Although this is a natural process of the plant, premature leaf drop can be a sign that the plant is exposed to hot or cool drafts. Check its location and the temperature where it is placed.

How to water an orchid plant

Since orchids have a reputation for being persnickety and water is usually the main issue I thought I would throw out a few tips on watering your orchid to make it a bit easier. For more in-depth information visit the American Orchid Society.

Overwatering will kill your orchid much more surely than underwatering.

Bottom Line: When in doubt, dry it out.

Orchids like a drier soil than other plants so when in doubt, leave it dry. Too much water can cause the roots to rot which means the plant cannot suck up nourishment. There are 2 easy ways to check the soil to see if it is wet or not.

1). Pencil trick: prick a sharpened pencil into the soil and if the wood darkens it is wet enough.

2). Stick your finger in. If it feels wet, it is wet.

Water your plant in the morning so that it has time to fully evaporate throughout the day. It is best to water in the sink (for about 15 sec) and then allow the plant to fully drain. Orchids in standing water= bad news.

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Extending the Life of Your Roses

With so many people enjoying roses this week here are a few pointers on extending their vase life or finding them another purpose.

1). Recut the stems every 3 to 4 days. This ensures that the roses are able to drink up the water.

2). Keep water levels high and change the water completely every few days. You may even want to wash out the vase or container. Many arrangements are designed in a floral foam that soaks up the water (much like a sponge) but also needs to be checked for water.

3). Remove foliage from the water as this can breed bacteria.

4). Roses enjoy cool temperatures so keep your bouquet in a nice shady spot away from heat sources (including your tv or laptop)

Tip: Wilting roses can be revived! Try this – trim off about an inch from the bottom of its stem and then submerge the entire rose under water in a sink or bathtub. Allow the stem to absorb water for about 20-60 minutes before returning them to their vase.

Want to give your roses a “second life”? Here are some creative uses I think are really fun:

  • CraftBits gives us a Rose Petal Notebook – how special would you feel remembering your Valentine every time you used the notebook at work? And so pretty, too!
  • Old Fashioned Living blog tells us several ideas for DIY projects with roses, including how to dry your rose petals – simple and so nice to keep around, this is a classic way to keep your gift beyond the ‘vase life’. Pick apart your petals and lay them out flat on a paper towel. Place the drying rose petals in a spot with good airflow but not in direct sunlight. Turn them over carefully until they’re completely dry.  That’s all there is to it!
  • I adore this idea from Family Corner.com – use your rose petals to make rose votives! Now your romantic roses can add a little drama for lovely dinners or other special moments. All it takes is rose petals, glass votive holders, white glue (like Elmer’s), white tissue paper and a few other household items (like wax paper to set it all on as it dries).

What ideas do you have for keeping your lovely gift around for an extended time? We’d love to hear!

Helpful tips for orchid plant care

Cymbidium Orchids:

These orchids are prized for their long-lasting sprays of flowers, used especially as cut flowers or for corsages in the spring. There are two main types of cymbidiums – standards and miniatures. Where summer nights are warm (above 70 F), only miniatures can be recommended, because many are more tolerant of heat and able to flower in warmer weather.

Display in a cool spot out of direct sunlight while in bloom. Keep plant at 50-60 degrees F at night until buds are mostly open; 65-75 degrees F during the day and after buds open. Plants can tolerate 45-85 degrees F, but blooms fade sooner at higher temperatures.  Place plants outdoors after risk of frost. Plants tolerate full sunlight if placed outdoors in early spring, otherwise, place in partial shade during mid-day.

Water/Fertilizer: Wait until the soil is dry before watering your orchid- usually 7-10 days. Saturate soil and allow to drain- do not let the plant stand in water. Instead of fertilizing at full strength once a month, many experienced orchid growers use the weakly, weekly method. Apply a 1/4 strength fertilizer each time you water and apply the fertilizer after watering. Putting fertilizer on dry soil can burn the roots.

Humidity outdoors is usually sufficient during the summer, except in dry climates, where evaporative cooling in a greenhouse is necessary. Keep humidity at 40 to 60 percent during the winter, especially if plants are in bud. Keep the air moving to prevent fungus (Botrytis) from spotting the flowers. During hot, dry weather, spray foliage in early morning to allow it to dry by evening.

Plants must be subjected to a temperature change of at least 20-30 degrees F between day and night during summer to set the buds for the next season. Plants will bloom at about the same time each year.

Potting is usually done in the spring after flowering, usually every two years or when the potting medium decomposes. Shake all of the old potting mix off the roots, dividing the plant if desired. Pick a water-retentive potting mix; medium-grade fir bark with peat moss and perlite is a common mix. Select a pot that will allow for at least two to three years of pseudobulb growth before crowding the pot, while planning on placing the active growing pseudobulb(s) of the division farthest from the side of the pot. Spread the roots over a cone of the mix in the bottom of the pot and fill the container with medium, working it among the roots, tamping firmly. Single backbulbs need not even be placed in mix until new growth and roots are noted. Keep shaded and warm until new growth sprouts, and pot as above.