It’s mid-July and gardeners are getting richer by the day.

They are, that is, if you measure wealth by the amounts of colour and fragrance in blooming gardens.


Annual flowering plants are now coming into their own and many perennials are pushing up daisies, bee balm and black-eyed Susan flowers to beat the band. All of this is thanks to long days, summer heat, water and good planning on your part.

We suggest you spread the wealth by cutting many of your garden flowers to bring indoors. You might enjoy them more there.

If you feel this job is over your head, we are here to help you get over that. If we can do it, you can, too.

Our rules for foolproof flower cutting:

1) Take a bucket with you with several centimetres of fresh, tepid water in the bottom of it. Plunge all cut flowers into fresh water as you go. Tepid means “room temperature,” not cold.

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2) When you cut flowers, include as much of the bloom stem as possible. The more stem surface that contacts water, the longer the flowers last.

3) Use a clean, sharp pair of hand pruners or kitchen scissors to cut the stems.

4) Cut flowers that are a day or two from their peak. They will last better than those that look their best the moment you cut them. Better still, most flowers provide the best show while in a vase, when cut in flower bud, rather than full blossom.

7) Recut stems on a 45-degree angle before you arrange the flowers in a vase.

8) Use cut flower food. You probably have some left over from store-purchased flowers in the junk drawer of the kitchen. You know the stuff: the plastic envelopes filled with a fine, white powder. It works well and helps to minimize the growth of bacteria in the water.

9) Arrange the tallest flowers in the middle, the floppy ones on the edge. Take that from two guys who are not exactly floral designers. Remember, we’re growers first, so beyond this tip we would defer to more qualified floral artists.

Cut hydrangea shrub flowers can be dried for future use indoors.

General advice

  • Cut flowers in the morning when natural sugars are high up the flower stem of most plants.
  • Once indoors, place cut flowers out of direct sun and change the water every day or two to prolong their life.
  • Euphorbia and poppies cut fresh from your garden last longer if you singe the stem end with a match. This is true for all latex producers.
  • If you cut hydrangea shrub flowers and want them to dry for future use indoors, place them in only two centimetres of water and let it evaporate until the vase is dry. The flowers should stand up on their own and dry naturally. Some of the natural colour will drain out of them over time.
  • Finally, if you cut a woody shrub like a lilac or weigela, smash the cut end with a hammer, being careful to avoid your thumb. The resulting exposed fibres transport water efficiently up the woody stem.
  • And, finally: share these flowers widely to maximize their true value.
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Poppies cut fresh will last longer indoors if you singe the stem end after they're cut.

Mark and Ben Cullen are expert gardeners and contributors for the Star. Follow Mark on Twitter: @MarkCullen4



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