Fresh Cut Flowers and Plant Care

Many people enjoy bringing fresh cut flowers and plants indoors to brighten up a room and add a touch of spring to the home. Although different fresh flowers and plants require different levels of attention, the best way to enjoy the beauty of each arrangement longer is with proper care. The following tips may help you better select and care for your fresh cut flowers and plants.

Common Name: Easter lily
Bloom Season: Early to mid spring. These lilies are available before the Easter season.
Plant Selection: Check the following when choosing an Easter lily:

  • Dark green foliage all the way to the base of the plant.
  • Buds in the puffy white stage. This means that they are showing color (puffy white) but not fully open. Flowers will open relatively quickly in the warmth of the home if they are purchased in the puffy white stage.
  • A plant that can support its own weight.
  • A plant without disease or insect problems, such as disfigured or discolored new or older leaves, shriveled or yellowed leaves or damaged stems, leaves or flowers.
Plant Care: You should be able to enjoy an Easter lily for two to three weeks by following these tips.
    Light: Bright, indirect sunlight (a possible light filter could be a curtain) is recommended to keep the Easter lily alive, because direct sunlight will case the blooms to fade.
    Water: Only as the plant needs it, when the potting mix becomes visibly dry.
    Fertilizer: Not needed on lilies.
    Temperature: Lilies will survive best at a minimum temperature of 60 degrees and a maximum temperature of 80 degrees.
    Maintenance: Remove all dead leaves and faded blooms and keep the foliage dry to help prevent disease and insect problems.
    Usage: The Easter lily cannot be grown outside in Alabama. Depending on the variety and proper care of the Easter lily it can reach a height of two to four feet tall.
Common Name: Florist Chrysanthemum
Bloom Season: Can be purchased any time of the year, but is most commonly sold for Mother's Day.
Flower Color: The most commonly used colors are yellow, lavender, bronze and pink.
Plant Selection: Check the following when choosing a chrysanthemum:
  • Dark green foliage all the way to the base of the plant.
  • No more than 25 percent of the blooms are open.
  • A plant that has not been crowded out by other plants; crowding gives it a flat side or a yellowing area.
  • A plant that can support its own weight.
  • A plant without disease or insect problems.
Plant Care: You should be able to enjoy a fresh chrysanthemum for four to six weeks by following these tips.
Light: Bright, indirect sunlight is recommended.
Water: Water daily or as needed.
Fertilizer: Not needed on chrysanthemums.
Maintenance: Remove all dead leaves and faded blooms, and keep the foliage dry to help prevent disease and insect problems.
Usage: The chrysanthemum makes a nice accent in the home. Florist mums are used for all kinds of occasions, from weddings and formal parties to corsages.

Common Name: Florist azalea
Bloom Season: The florist azalea blooms from early to late spring and is most commonly sold during the Easter season and for Mother's Day.
Flower Color: The florist azalea comes in all flower colors except blue.
Plant Selection: Check the following when choosing a florist azalea:

  • Foliage all the way to the base of the plant and no long shoots coming out of the top of the canopy of the plant.
  • No more than 25 percent of the blooms are open.
  • A plant that has not been crowded out by other plants.
  • A plant that can support its own weight.
  • A plant without disease or insect problems.
Plant Care: You should be able to enjoy a florist azalea for two to three weeks by following these tips.
    Light: Bright, indirect sunlight.
    Water: Daily or more often as needed.
    Fertilizer: Not needed on florist azaleas.
    Maintenance: Remove all dead leaves and faded blooms, and keep the foliage dry to help prevent disease and insect problems.
    Usage: The florist azalea is a nice accent to almost any part of the house. The main concern is to keep the potting mix from drying out.
Common Name: Fresh cut Roses (can also be followed for fresh cut daffodils)
Bloom Season: Fresh cut roses are available all year long.
Flower Color: Roses come in yellow, pink, peach, white, lavender, red and multicolored.
Flower Selection: Check the following list when choosing a rose:
  • Straight stems.
  • Partially opened flowers or buds showing color.
  • A strong stem with the ability to support the bloom without the use of wire.
  • Absence of disease or insect problems.
Flower Care: You should be able to enjoy fresh cut roses for seven to 10 days by following these tips.
  • Select a vase and mix the fresh flower food a measured amount of warm water in the vase. Most packages of floral food should be dissolved in eight ounces (one cup) of water. Read the floral food label and follow the directions. Use more than one package of floral food if the vase is large. Measuring the proper amount of water is important.
  • Use warm water, not hot or cold! Warm water speeds up the flower's ability to absorb the water and flora food.
  • Recut the rose stems under water before you arrange them in the vase. It does not matter whether you cut the stem at a slant or straight across, just that you do the cutting with the stem (not the entire rose) submerged. Cut 1 to 2 inches off the stem with a sharp knife or shears. Arrange the roses in a vase or other container with floral food and warm water.
  • The floral food and warm water should last for several days. Roses require a lot of water, so replace the floral food and water solution as the roses use it.
If you are cutting your own roses, there are some extra steps you should take to extend the enjoyment of your flowers.
  • Cut flowers early in the morning or late in the afternoon.
  • Immediately place the stem in a bucket of warm water after cutting.
  • Recut the stems and put them in a solution of floral food and water for an hour before arranging them.
Usage: The colors of roses are symbols of different emotions or feelings: love (red), friendship (yellow), innocence (white), and happiness (pink).

J. Raymond Kessler, Extension specialist and assistant professor at Auburn University contributed this article. Contact your county Extension office for more information on proper care and tips for fresh cut flowers and plants.