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Good care and conditioning of our plant materials

By Jenny Harris FASNZ teacher & Education Committee 2008.

Designer Jan Chambers Timaru Floral Art Group

Designer Jan Chambers
Timaru Floral Art Group

Care and conditioning of plant material should be paramount to ensure optimal life. Some plant materials require different attention and handling.

Spring flowers such as Daffodils, Jonquils and Sol d’oeil release a sap substance which is poisonous to other flowers.  These flowers need to be in water on their own for 24 hours before placing in a design with other plant materials.

Tulips can be deadly to other flowers because they secrete a poison into the water. After cutting leave them in water on their own for a day. Do not cut them again before combining with other flowers.

Poppies release a substance similar to latex which can close off and seal the end of the stems and stop water from entering. Singe the end of the stems with a flame to alleviate this problem.

Tropical flowers such as Strelitizias, Anthuriums, Orchids and Heliconias are sensitive to salt. Touching the blooms can cause marks and bruising.

Hollow and woody stemmed flowers such as Roses, Chrysanthemums, Gerberas and Delphiniums should have their stems re-cut, then plunged into boiling water for 30 - 40 seconds, then back into their bucket of water. This removes any air in the stem which restricts the water to the head of the flower causing it to droop.

  • Donít bash the ends of woody stemmed flowers or foliage as this damages the cells that make up the intricate flower uptake system.
  • Always remember to remove any foliage that will be under water or in floral foam. Cut stems on an angle, this allows the stem to take up water better.

Drooping flowers and foliage can sometimes be revived by placing stems in boiling water for 10 seconds then into clean tepid water.

  • The use of a good preservative in the water is also desirable.

If you make these few simple requirements part of the everyday care and maintenance of your plant material you will be rewarded with longer lasting designs to enjoy.

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