The Homeowners Column

The Homeowners Column

Flower pick-me-ups

Photo of Sandra Mason

Sandra Mason
Extension Educator, Horticulture
slmason@illinois.edu

Despite the exuberant display of joy on the faces of "TVites" in sleep aid commercials, few people wake up with a smile on their faces. Most people would say their mood is its lowest in the morning. A 2006 study revealed cut flowers may be the perfect pick-me-up to relieve the morning blues.

The study by Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School found that people were happier and more energetic after viewing fresh flowers first thing in the morning. And for all you silk flower devotees, non-living decorative items did not elicit the same response.

The study showed people received the most benefit by placing flowers in the kitchen or dining room, wherever they spent the most time in the morning. Evidently gazing at flowers as we sip our morning cup of coffee can be a long lasting pick-me-up.

Fresh cut flowers at home can have a positive carry-over impact on our mood at work as well. The study found that people were more likely to feel happier and have more enthusiasm and energy at work when fresh cut flowers were in their homes.

The effect of fresh flowers doesn't require a fancy design. Just a few flowers in simple containers can evoke happy thoughts in happy places. Check out http://www.flowerpossibilities.com/ for lots of ideas and step-by-step instructions for simple but creative arrangements.

Here are a few tips to keep your flowers looking nicer longer:

  • As soon as flower bouquets arrive, cut stems under water by removing about an inch at an angle with a sharp knife. Place in vase of warm water and flower preservative.
  • Always use flower preservative sold with the flowers. It reduces bacterial growth in the water, improves flowering, and prevents leaves from prematurely yellowing. Follow directions as to how much preservative to put in the water.
  • When arranging flowers remove any leaves that will be submerged in water.
  • Never place or store cut flowers near fruit. Most fruit releases ethylene gas which quickly ages the flowers resulting in a shorter vase life.
  • Never place cut flowers in direct sunlight.
  • Lilies are dramatic, long-lasting, and fragrant flowers. However, they have one drawback: their pollen can cause severe staining on clothing and tablecloths. The good new is a little maintenance will alleviate the problem. Florists remove the anthers of open flowers, but lilies often arrive with many immature buds for a long lasting display. It is essential to remove the pollen containing anthers from the new buds before they shed pollen. As soon as the buds start to open, gently remove the anthers with your fingers. The anthers are the dark yellow-brown structures balancing on long filaments. If you perform an antherectomy early, you won't get pollen all over your hands or clothing.
  • If your clothing gets pollinated, remove any pollen with a dry brush first. A damp cloth will make the stain worse. Another method is to press a piece of sticky tape over the pollen several times to pick up the pollen and remove it from the clothing.
  • If flowers arrive in an arrangement, be sure to add water immediately. Add water daily.
  • To keep arrangements looking nice, recut stems and replace water and flower preservative every 2-3 days especially when water becomes cloudy.

As flowers are recut, downsize to a smaller vase. Or rearrange and regroup flowers into smaller containers. Use a grouping of decorative bottles, votive candle holders, or coffee mugs.

As flowers reach the end of their useful life, cut stems to half inch from the blooms and float in champagne glasses or bowls of water. Arrange loose rose petals around the grouping. Do yourself a favor. Pick up some flowers today for a pick-me-up tomorrow.

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