Preserving fresh cut flowers

(Question)

How do I keep fresh cut flowers from the garden in their best health? I find some nocturnal rodent is nibbling at some of the delicate roses in the garden, so I decided to pick the flower sooner.
One other thing I’ve done is cover the small rosebush loosely with a large mesh bag, similar to the mesh bag that is purchased wih oranges. This allows the few roses to breathe, and seems to be a deterrent until the buds begins to flower.
One day I found that a clipped rosebud on the ground in the garden. It was clipped so close to the top, that it couldn’t be used with other flowers, I thought. It stayed well preserved in the fridge for two weeks, but I couldn’t do much else with, except admire it as I went about chores.
I was going to try this again for future cut flowers as a best practise. I left the roses out of the fridge by accident one day, and they stayed well preserved overnight in the air conditioned, humid basement in a vase of water.
My query is, to protect the flowers from nocturnal rodents overnight while a flower is still in the ground, is there any risk, other than my forgetting to remove the mesh cover and smothering the rosebush?
Secondly to preserve fresh cut flowers generally, is it better to place them in fresh water? Or is it better to place them in a fridge?
Finally, if I’m going to store these flowers in the fridge, what precautions can I take to ensure bugs don’t accompany the flowers into the fridge? I’m going to assume that the summer bugs won’t survive the cold refrigerator, but as temperatures cool, different bugs which are used to cooler temperatures might have a field day while select phlox and mandevilla, and asters bloom, hopefully closer to autumn .

(Answer)

 

Thank you for contacting Toronto Master Gardeners.

Your rose garden sounds beautiful. Being able to harvest cut roses as you do is wonderful.

You do not mention if you are in the city or out in the country. Animals that often nibble off rose buds are squirrels and deer.

In your garden, is it easy for squirrels to access your roses? are there surfaces for them to stand on and reach the buds? Minimizing access is probably the most effective method. Covering the bushes as you do does make sense. The issues that may arise with placing the mesh directly on top of the roses is it could accidentally catch on the flowers and damage them as the cover is put on and taken off of the flowers. Another concern could be decreased air flow around the leaves as they are bunched together by the covering. Decreased air flow can lead to mildew and disease. Perhaps creating a simple structure around the roses with stakes would be helpful. If you can drape mesh over top the plants without coming in contact with the plants it would decrease risk of physical damage and not impede air flow.

There are several sites which discuss the preservation of cut roses. You have hit on a few of them already.

Key factors are:

  • using sharp scissors
  • cutting flowers in the morning when they are well hydrated
  • taking care with sanitation of your vases and use fresh water
  • cutting stems under water
  • keeping arrangements out of the sunlight
  • storing the arrangement in the fridge overnight

Following these simple steps should allow maximum longevity for your arrangements. I am including 2 links that go into great depth about preserving cut roses.

Good luck and may you have many beautiful arrangements!

http://scvrs.homestead.com/preserveroses.html

http://www.finegardening.com/tips-cutting-garden-roses-bring-them-house