How to Pick Flowers

Four Methods:Choose the best time to pick flowersTo pick or to cut?How to cutRequirements of specific flowers

Picking flowers can be a simple task, yet it can also be a more successful one if you know a few simple ins and outs of picking flowers correctly. This knowledge will ensure that you select the flowers at their best and have them last longest.

Method 1
Choose the best time to pick flowers

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    Cut flowers early in the morning. This is the best time of day because the flowers are fresh from the night's rest and haven't been exposed to a day of warmth.
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    Cut in the evening. If you're not able to cut flowers in the morning, the evening is the next best choice, as the flowers won't be wilting under the heat of the sun.
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    Avoid cutting flowers when it's the middle of the day. At this time of the day the flowers will have very little moisture and will not last long when placed in a vase or bouquet.
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    Choose flowers that are just coming into full bloom for picking. If you pick the flowers before this, there is a risk that they will be too immature to open their buds. And if they're picked well into bloom or towards the end of blooming, they'll fade fast on display in just water. Older blooms will drop petals and pollen everywhere, creating a mess in your house.
    • Blooms that are dusted with pollen are past their prime.
    • Exceptions to this rule include daffodils and tree blossom; these should be picked when still in bud. The warmth of your house will cause them to open quickly.

Method 2
To pick or to cut?

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    Although it's common to refer to "picking" flowers, choose to cut most flowers instead, using a sharp pair of scissors or garden snips. You will find that flowers that have been cut will last longer than those picked and this also minimizes damage to the plant.
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    Note the exceptions. Flowers such as the Iris stylosa and cyclamens need to be pulled out completely, rather than cut. Learn about the specific needs of the flowers in your garden to see which ones fare better being completely removed.
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    Always ensure that the cutting instrument (scissors, snips, knife, etc.) is sharp and clean. Avoid transferring disease to the flower plant by having dirty snips.

Method 3
How to cut

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    Cut flower stems at an angle. The reason for this is that you create more surface area for the flower to drink up water.
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    If cutting a lot of flowers, carry a small pail or bucket of water with you to place the flowers straight into it.
    • Use room temperature water, not cold tap water.

Method 4
Requirements of specific flowers

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    Know which flowers are best picked when. Here are some common garden varieties and their best picking times:
    • Daffodils – while in tight bud
    • Daisies, dahlias, marguerites - when coming into full bloom; if dusted with pollen, they're not good to pick anymore
    • Long flowers such as lupins, foxgloves, delphiniums – when the lower flowers are fully open with some of the upper level buds yet to open
    • Poppies – when the buds have just burst open
    • Peonies - when the petals begin to unfurl
    • Chrysanthemums - when the flowers are fully open.


  • If picking flowers for a wedding bouquet from your own garden, seek the advice of a florist on the best choices and the challenges involved. You don't want to have an upset on the day of the wedding because the flowers aren't ready to be picked!
  • Know how to condition flowers for indoor longevity after picking them. This will increase their life indoors.
  • You can still pick a small bunch of flowers by hand to give to your sweetheart without using scissors, etc. Just be aware that the bunch won't last long though; perhaps long enough to express "I love you" and have your beloved take home the flowers for pressing.

Things You'll Need

  • Sharp cutting tools
  • Bucket or pail of room temperature water when picking lots of flowers

Article Info

Categories: Flower Arranging and Floral Art