When I'm doing an event, I like flowers to be at their peak of beauty. Some flowers need no helping in this process. Tulips, for instance. They open beautifully on their own without any prompting. But some need a little help.
Roses usually fall into the "help me!" category. I did a photo shoot recently (photos to come soon, I hope!) where I wanted the roses to make a statement. The particular rose I was using was a standard rose but it has a higher petal count than most without falling into the Garden Rose category.
Meet Free Spirit.
Isn't she lovely?! This is one of my favorites. This shot was taken on day two of hydration (rest). It went from this lovely degree of openness...
Processing flowers when they come in is very important, whether you're using them as flowers in an arrangement for your mom or in a bridal bouquet. It can have an effect on vase life as well as their appearance over time. Having a good source for your flowers is, of course, is also very important. The less hands that touch them between being cut at the farm then making it to you, the better. The stress of being transported can make a difference so try to find a local farm that grows them, a reliable wholesaler, or a florist that processes them for you and knows where they've been. Let's get started!
1.)Start by putting your flower food in a clean, sanitized bucket.
Flower food not only livens up your flowers, but it helps prevent mold/algae from growing in the water which can happen very quickly. Usually a packet of the powdered food is just fine. I usually use a new food packet in the vessel that I'm arranging in later.
2.)Fill the bucket half-way full.
This is important because roses need a lot of water to replenish them as they've sometimes had quite the journey to get to you. Just like you get thirsty after a long plane ride, so do they! Also, if you have a lot of flowers in a bucket, make sure they have room to breathe. If you have flowers buried under others, they can't get sunlight and they won't be able to fully open.
3.) Free them of their container and begin stripping them of thorns and leaves.
This is important because it diverts the energy that the flower is using to keep the unnecessary parts alive and sends it straight to the head. I also de-thorn, not only because thorns hurt and get caught on things in the designing process but also because this opens up more pathways for the food fortified water to get in there and hydrate sooner.
4.) Give them a fresh cut.
This is a biggie. Take your sharp florist knife or flower shears and cut roughly 1 - 2 inches off the bottom at an angle. This ensures that the bottom can hydrate much quicker. Some flowers such as hydrangea actually have a sort of sap that gathers at the bottom of the stem when they are cut. This is why it is so important to cut them and then immediately put them in water so the stems don't get obstructed. As a general rule you should do this with all flowers, even after they're already been styled in a vase, bouquet, etc. I usually cut mine twice more throughout their lives. It allows for clean fresh water to hydrate them and extend their life.
Who doesn't like to rest?! Haha! I love naps. But while you're napping, your flowers will be drinking. Hydrating. Pushing that water into it's petals and opening up. In my line of work I need my roses in particular to be what we call "blown open". This means as open as possible. So in my case, I will put them in a warm spot. Since I live in the south, it's usually in my garage (but NOT in the sun). The warmth forces the heads open sooner and encourages a bigger bloom. Just like a warm room when exercising makes your joints and muscles more pliable and limber, same with petals. I will leave them to drink for at least 24hrs, sometimes 48. I check on them constantly to make sure they are not opening too quickly, in which case I will bring them back in and put them in a shady, cool spot.
Just a disclaimer: This sometimes can also lead to a shorter vase life. Most floral shops keep their roses in coolers to prevent this from happening. But for a wedding where your flowers will be in photographs forever, you want your flowers to be completely open and gorgeous. For the record, I used this same process with the Free Spirits pictured above and got a full week out of them!
And that's it!
Not too hard, right? I believe that processing flowers is a huge part of keeping your flowers beautiful. This process applies to all flowers that need hydrating time to open. This goes for roses, peonies, lilies, lisianthus and some linear (long, outstretched, sometimes branchy) flowers that come with tightly packed little buds on them. I hope this helps you get the most out of your flowers!