How to Choose Cut Flowers

Many people enjoy having fresh flowers on display in their homes and offices. People also buy fresh flowers as gifts or for special occasions. You can buy cut flowers at florist shops, grocery stores, farmers markets, and road-side stands. Choose cut flowers by looking for signs of freshness and avoiding aged blooms. Your goal is to purchase the freshest flowers you can so they will last as long as possible.


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    Feel the underside of the petals.
    • Slide your fingers gently from the stem to the petal ends. The petals of fresh flowers should feel firm.
    • Listen for a faint rustling when you move your fingers across the undersides of the petals. This sound is a sign of freshness in flowers.
    • Reject the flowers if the petals feel flaccid, cool, or moist.
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    Study at the flowers. Don't buy cut flowers with faded colors, transparent petals, petals that are turning brown, or wilting petals.
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    Look for seeds or loose pollen inside the blooms, which indicate that the flowers were past their prime when they were cut.
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    Choose flowers with buds that are just starting to open over those that are already fully open. Flower buds will continue to open if kept in a vase with water.
    • Buy cut tulips that are fully closed. The tulip's color should be visible at the tip of the bud, yet the tulip should be green at the bottom.
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    Inspect the stems of cut flowers. Choose those with clean, strong stems.
    • Reject flowers with soft, discolored stems. This discoloration indicates that bacteria has entered the stems, and will move upward to contaminate the leaves and flowers as the bacteria multiply.
    • Refuse flowers with slime on the stems or broken stems.
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    Select cut flowers with healthy-looking leaves. The leaves should appear fresh, firm, and green.
    • Reject flowers with leaves that are sagging, yellow, brown or speckled. Speckling indicates the presence of bacteria in the leaves.
    • Refuse flowers that have leaves with holes in them, because this indicates that the plant was infested with insects before cutting.
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    Make sure the calyx and sepals are green and healthy. These are the small leaves that cup a flower head at the bottom between the stem and petals.
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    Check the water in which the cut flowers are sitting at the store. Don't buy flowers if the water smells stagnant or appears murky or slimy.
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    Reject flowers that have insects or other pests visible on them.


  • Look very carefully at pre-arranged grocery store bouquets before buying. These bouquets are made up well in advance, so they are sometimes not very fresh and may wilt quickly.
  • Buy fresh flowers during their blooming season. These flowers tend to be freshest, and you will be able to find the widest variety. Fresh flowers are also cheaper during their blooming season.

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Categories: Flower Arranging and Floral Art