Cleaning Cut Flowers


I was wondering if you had any tip on how to get cut flowers “clean” of small insects before getting into the house. I’m lucky enough that a neighbour let’s me cut a few of her beautiful peonies and lilacs flowers in spring, but I always find I bring a few ants home as well. If I shake the flowers, I damage them. Any tips so I could leave the ants in my neighbour garden where they belong instead of on my kitchen table? Thank you :)


It’s great that you are already thinking ahead to spring! There is nothing quite like a fresh bouquet of cut blooms straight from the garden. The smell can truly be intoxicating. Dealing with insect “hitchhikers” on cut flowers can be challenging but there are some tips to help minimize their numbers.

For peonies, the main strategy that flower farmers use is to cut them before the buds open. They will continue to open after being cut, over the next one to two days, provided the buds already show some colour and are soft like a marshmallow. Any ants that are on the outside of the buds can easily be wiped off at this stage and you’ll be able to enjoy ant-free peonies inside your home.

For lilacs, it is a bit trickier, as the individual flowers are small and do not tend to open much after they are cut. In this case, you may need to resort to gently shaking them to dislodge insects. The ideal time to cut lilacs is when half to three-quarters of the buds are open so, you may find that at this stage of cutting, the flowers are more robust and able to withstand a bit more handling than if you cut them when all the buds are open.

Best of luck!