If you grow flowers, there's good reason to bring some of that harvested sunshine into your home. It will improve your mood and just make your home a little extra special.

Heavy summer rains can ruin the best flower display outside so bringing some in ensures you get to enjoy at least some of the beauty.

Did you know that cut flowers from your garden or supermarket are more perishable than many fruits? To extend the enjoyment and freshness of cut flowers, we must condition or "harden" them.

Properly conditioned cut flowers will last twice as long as untreated flowers. Treated flowers will take up water readily and won't wilt quickly when put in an arrangement.

QUICK TIPS TO CUT FLOWER SUCCESS

Begin with a clean vase or container for the floral arrangement. Wash it well with soap and water to remove all bacteria and fungi. These organisms are the major cause of cut flower deterioration because they prevent water uptake by blocking the vascular systems of flower stems.

Use a cut flower preservative or make your own (see recipe). These products come in small packets that are easy to use in a vase or flower container. In addition to supplying food to cut flowers displays, they promote water uptake by stems, help keep water clean and reduce microorganism growth in water.

Cut flowers early in the morning, using a sharp knife or shears. Remove leaves from the lower part of the stem and put the cut stems into water immediately.

Once inside, put the cut flowers in warm water (about 100 degrees F) to which you've added a commercial cut flower food or preservative. Some advise to cut flower stems under water but this step is usually unnecessary if flowers are cut and immediately put into a bucket of water. It's advisable to recut the bottom of stems as the fresh cut allows water to be more readily absorbed.

Place the arrangement out of direct sunlight and away from air conditioning vents or drafts. Displays last longer if kept cool.

Check the water each day for clarity. Add more water if needed or replace the water if cloudy.

Remove any failing leaves or flowers.

HOMEMADE PRESERVATIVE RECIPE

Mix the following in 1 quart of water*: OR Mix the following in 1 quart of water*:

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice 2 tablespoons white vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar 2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon chlorine bleach ½ teaspoon chlorine bleach

*use this solution as your cut flower water

For more information, contact the Pulaski County Extension Service at 606-679-6361. Become a fan of Pulaski County Horticulture on Facebook and follow @hortagentbeth on Twitter, kyplants on Instagram, and follow us on YouTube at Pulaski County Horticulture.

The Pulaski Co Extension office is open to the public on a regular basis, Monday through Friday 8am to 4:30pm.

Want to learn more about Crinum lilies? June 8 at 6pm you can learn about these southern lilies and receive one for attending. The cost is $10. You won't be able to find Crinum bulbs anywhere any cheaper! Pre-register please. Quantities limited. Online option is available.

The Lake Cumberland Master Gardeners have pine straw mulch for sale at the Pulaski County Extension office. It is sold in bales for $7 per bale (50 and over, $6 per bale). It can be purchased during office hours 8am to 4:30pm Monday - Friday, although Tuesdays are preferred.

Educational programs of Kentucky Cooperative Extension serve all people regardless of economic or social status and will not discriminate on the basis of race, color, ethnic origin, national origin, creed, religion, political belief, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, pregnancy, marital status, genetic information, age, veteran status, or physical or mental disability.

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