Long-stemmed flowers look elegant in vases and add contrast, shape and balance to arrangements. The University of Massachusetts Extension recommends using annuals for cut flowers because they are inexpensive and come in a wide variety of colors and heights. They also have a long bloom season. Consider your local growing conditions before choosing which plants to grow. Regulate the sowing times to keep flowers in bloom for extended periods.
Dahlias look good in vases because the blooms add splashes of color. Cornell University horticulturists recommend cutting dahlias when the blooms are almost completely open. The stems are hollow and must be kept full of water to make them last five to 10 days in a vase. Start by cutting long stems and plunging them into a bucket of warm water, and re-cut the stems again underwater. Add preservative powder to the vase to discourage bacteria and provide nutrients to the flowers. Trim the stems daily (under water) and change the water and preservative every third day. Mist the flowers frequently to keep them fresh.
Horticulturists at the University of Vermont report that carnations are the most popular cut flowers. They grow best in cool to moderate climates, preferring lots of sun and cool nights of at least 65 degrees F. The terminus flower head is 2 to 3 inches in diameter and available in pink, red and white. The stems are 4 to 6 inches long, and the greenish-blue foliage has a waxy appearance. Harvest the fragrant flowers when the buds are still tight or barely opened. Cut them in the mid-afternoon when carbohydrate levels are highest. Store carnations at 31 degrees F makes them last for several weeks.
Gladioli are grown primarily as cutting flowers. It’s not uncommon to see them over 40 inches in height with six to eight flowers that are 2 inches in diameter. They are available in a number of colors. Cut the glad when the first flower is showing color. Cut the stalk between the second and fourth leaf and cut on a slant. Place the flowers in warm water and put them in a cool place for a few hours before using them in an arrangement. Leaving a few leaves behind on the plant helps the corm (bulb) develop properly. Store them in a vertical position to keep them healthy.