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Make Flowering Branch Cuttings Last Longer in Water

Make Flowering Branch Cuttings Last Longer in Water
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Expand your choice of floral materials
beyond the carnations from grocery store
flower stands, and you can keep
arrangements in your house much
more often—and enjoy more creative
fulfillment from your artistry. One oft-overlooked
choice is cuttings from
blooming shrubs such as lilacs or azaleas,
or even bamboo or reeds. However, you
can’t just plunk them in water the way
you would a bunch of cut flowers. “Bamboos
and reeds, or anything that has a
hollow, jointed stem, should have a notch
cut in the upper part of each joint that
will be under water, so that the stem
becomes filled,” Gertrude Jekyll points
out in Flower Decoration in the House
(1907).”The flowers of shrubs in general
should have the stems slit up or the bark
peeled up, leaving it on in ribbons . . . to
expose as large a surface as possible of
woody fiber and inner and outer bark to
the action of the water.”

This advice is just as valid as it was a
century ago, says Lynn Byczynski, a cut
flower producer based in Lawrence,
Kansas, and author of The Flower
Farmer
. “This tactic—or just cutting the
woody stem at a sharp angle—would
work well with flowering shrubs such as
butterfly bush, pussy willow, forsythia,
lilac, and viburnum. But don’t go to a lot
of trouble until you’re sure the branch
isn’t taking up water when you make an
ordinary cut.”

One old-fashioned tactic to disregard:
smashing woody stems to provide more
surface to draw up water. “The pieces of
fiber will get in the water and start bacterial
growth,” warns Lynn.

Excerpt from 1,001 Old-Time Household Hints—brought to you by Skyhorse Publishing

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