Sunflowers are great for summertime bouquets but to get the most out of your cut flowers, you should follow a few simple steps. When sunflowers are cut using the following steps, blooms can last up to 10 days indoors!
Step 1 - Select the Best Flowers to Cut
The best sunflowers to use for cut flowers have multiple branching stems and flowers. Some sunflowers don't make pollen and will make less mess on your table. Also, the standard, yellow/orange sunflowers tend to last longer in the vase than the varieties with dark petals or dark petal bases. They shed petals usually in less than 1 week.
Step 2 - Cut at the Right Stage of Development
Cut them when the the petals, or ray flowers, just begin to open and before they have opened off the face completely.
Step 3 - Timing of the Cut
The best time to cut your sunflowers is early in the morning or late in the day. Don't cut in the heat of the day, flowers will wilt and won't last as long in the vase.
Step 4 - Cutting Angle Matters
The sunflower, or any flower for that matter, will take up water better if cut a 45-degree angle. Leave at least 24 inches of stem on the flower head.
Step 5 - Temperature of the Water is Important
Fill your collecting bucket with hot water. Yes hot water from the tap. Cuttings will take up the water better if it is hot from the tap or at least warm. Place the cuttings in the hot water immediately after cutting. It is best to allow the cut flowers to sit in indirect light for several hours to 24 hours so they can take up water before making your arrangement. This process is called conditioning.
Step 6 - Keep Your Bouquet Out of the Sun
Sunflowers do love the sun when growing, but after you cut them it is a different story. After cutting and arranging, keep your beautiful bouquet out of direct hot sun. It will last longer if kept in bright, but indirect light. Keep it in an area without drafts. The airflow will speed up drying out the cuttings.
Step 7 - Keep Your Water Fresh
You can use a little bleach or the packets of flower preservative to destroy bacteria in the water. Or if you don't use anything, just recut the ends and change the water daily. Remember to use warm water, not cold water. I have read about other methods to keep down bacteria in the water but I have not tried them firsthand. You can enjoy your summer flower bouquet indoors for up to 10 days if you follow these few simple steps.