Are you growing sunflowers for use as cut flowers? How do you know when they should be harvested, or cut? And how should they be preserved to prolong their shelf life? Here are our tips:
Cut sunflowers early, just when the outer petals or ray flowers are beginning to rise off the face, and the disk flowers in the center have not yet opened. As sunflowers mature and senesce, more and more disk flowers will progressively open.
Harvest cut sunflowers early in the morning, after any dew has dried but before the temperature warms and before the sunflower plant’s transpiration rate increases.
Use high quality bypass pruners. A sharp blade will ensure a clean cut, helping to prolong the vase life of your flower. Cut stem at desired length, at a 45° angle, to prevent the stem from resting flat on the bottom of the vase.
Avoid placing too many heads in one bucket while harvesting; crowded heads may damage each other.
Strip cut sunflowers of all leaves, except for those next to the flower head.
Place cut flowers in water immediately after harvest.
If using sunflowers for an event the next day, consider storing in your refrigerator to prolong their life. If cut sunflowers are exposed to ethylene producing items for a long period, the ray flowers or outer petals are more likely to drop.
Maintain clean water in your vase, changing water every 2 to 3 days to prolong the life of your cut flowers.
Garden Zeus does not recommend using floral preservatives to prolong the life of your cut flowers. Preservatives often contain heavy metals and germicides that damage to the environment. To prolong the life of your flowers, consider making a homemade floral preservative using sugar, water, and bleach: combine 1 tablespoon of sugar with ¼ tablespoon of bleach, mixed thoroughly in a gallon of water.
Display cut flowers in an area with cool temperatures and high relative humidity, out of direct sunlight.
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