Tips for Tuesday - Checking the quality of your flowers

Fresh flowers like nearly all bought goods can vary in quality. Here are some things to keep an eye out for when purchasing flowers to be certain you're buying premium quality, fresh flowers.

Head Size ? Can be categorised by two characteristics; the diameter of the open flower or the size of the harvested bud. Many factors affect the size of the flower head from nutrients in the growing soil to precipitation and light levels. Generally the bigger the head the better quality of flower

Flower count ? The number of flowers per stem is also a good judge of a flowers overall quality. Flowers that have multiple buds per stem should generally have 3 or more buds to be consider of good quality.

Turgidity ? As the cells of the plant become dehydrated they lose their stiffness meaning the flower will begin to droop and wilt. Avoid flowers which are drooping or wilting as they haven?t been keep sufficiently hydrated. If this occurs once they are back at home and are in sufficient water, re-cut the stem further up at a 45o angle to allow for a large surface area for water absorption. The 45o angle is important as it also stops the stem sticking to the bottom of the vase preventing water uptake - they stick thanks to the sucking action of water cohesion!

Cut point ? Flowers need to be harvested at the correct opening stage as flowers open at different rates. A fast opening variety needs to have be very nearly unopened as to have the best possible vase life performance. A slower opening variety should be more open so that it will continual to bloom after purchase and before it dies.

Stem Characteristics ? A strong and straight stem is what you want to see in good quality flowers. A good test of this is to hold the flower horizontal. If the stem bends less then 30o it can be considered a strong. Any more and there is a increasing possibility the stem could break.

Foliage ? All foliage should be free from mechanical damage, spray residue, disease and insects, also the foliage should be green and rich in colour. If it is fading or yellow it is lacking in sunlight and should be avoided.

Keeping these things in mind you should be able to pick out the best quality flowers when choosing what to put in your next bouquet.

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