If you enjoy picking wildflowers and arranging them yourself, you might wonder whether you missed your calling as a florist. Before you start daydreaming about a career change, learn how to make a bouquet of cut wildflowers look good and stay that way. Knowing how to keep flowers alive and looking beautiful beyond the first week typically is more complicated. With the proper care, cut wildflowers in vases can last for around two weeks before they start to wilt.
Florists often work with wildflowers, so you may buy or receive a bouquet of professionally arranged wildflowers that have already been properly prepared. But to create a bouquet from your own garden (or from a friend's yard or a particularly scenic meadow), picking wildflowers is obviously the first step.
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Your goal while picking wildflowers is to remove only the flowers you want to display and not damage the rest of the plant, so don't yank the flowers out of the ground. Follow each stem down to the point where it meets the rest of the plant and use clean scissors or garden shears to cut it. Have a bucket of tepid water with you to put flowers into right away. Keep the cut flowers in the water and in a shady place until you're ready to arrange the wildflowers in vases.
Because bees and other insects love flowers too, wear long sleeves and gloves to protect your skin while collecting flowers. Use a field guide and/or plant identifier app on your phone to figure out what kind of flower you're considering before cutting it.
Did You Know?
The term "wildflower" is used to describe any flower that grows naturally in its environment without cultivation by humans. Thousands of types of wildflowers grow in the United States alone! Different types are native to different environments, so your location affects the kinds of wildflowers that grow near you.
Initial Care for Cut Flowers
There's nothing inherently different about caring for hand-picked wildflowers in vases than caring for a bouquet of non-native flowers that were grown in a greenhouse. However, keep a few key universal hints for flower care in mind.
If you're arranging your own bouquet, start with a vase that's about two-thirds full of tepid water and mix in a packet of flower food. Hold each stem up to the vase to determine how much you want to cut off. Always cut the stems at an angle to allow for maximum water intake. Remove any leaves or stems that will fall below the water line in the vase, as they can introduce bacteria into the water, which will shorten the flowers' life span.
Display a vase of wildflowers out of direct sunlight, away from any appliances or vents that generate heat, and out of the path of any fans. Change the water and flowers every few days.
Make a DIY substitute for a packet of flower food using 2 tablespoons of lemon juice, 1 tablespoon granulated sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of bleach. Add the ingredients to the vase before pouring in the water. Make a fresh batch every time you change the water.
How to Keep Flowers Alive
Florists and flower enthusiasts have done a lot of experimenting over the years, trying different strategies for keeping flowers alive as long as possible. People have come up with a lot of questionable ways to "care" for fresh blooms, and a lot of them are pretty useless home remedies. For instance, don't bother to spritz your flowers with hairspray or mix vodka into the water.
The more effective strategies for extending the life of a bouquet seem to be those that involve sugar and cold. Try adding about 1/4 cup of clear soda (like lemon-lime) along with flower food to the water every time you change it. And stash the bouquet in a fridge overnight if possible. In an experiment, ProFlowers tried nine different home remedies, and they found that refrigerating flowers overnight to be the top strategy for keeping flowers alive and looking fresh for 10-plus days.