Tag Archive: Alive

Keep Your Love Alive: Preserving Cut Flowers

Keep Your Love Alive: Preserving Cut Flowers

Valentine’s Day has come and gone. You were likely showered with gifts from loved ones; gifts covered in chocolate, gifts of the stuffed variety, and more than likely the kind covered in petals. And as you languish in the afterglow of affection it would be wise to remember that your bouquets will need to be shown some affection if you intend for them to remain beautiful.

White Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Duchesse de Brabant, Tea Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Fresh cut flowers are a popular gift for Valentine’s Day and a simple, yet elegant way to relay your affections. Flowers have the capacity to brighten up a room and bring a smile to your face. The myriad of colors and scents are admittedly irresistible. However, after a few days your once overflowing vase may seem wilted and despondent. Follow these easy steps to increase the lifespan of your flowers and extend their potent powers!

Pink Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Carefree Beauty, Shrub Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

  • Re-cut the flower stems using a sharp knife or shears. Remove at least one-half inch of stem to expose a fresh surface. Stems, especially rose stems, should be re-cut under water. A freshly cut stem absorbs water freely, so it is important to cut at a slant to avoid crushing the stem and to prevent a flat-cut end from resting on the bottom of the vase.
  • Put flowers in water as soon as possible. Maximum water uptake occurs in the first 36 to 48 hours after cutting flowers. Place stems in 100-110°F (38-40°C) water, because warm water moves into the stem more quickly and easily than cold water.
  • Make sure to remove any leaves from the stem that may be submerged. Because transpiration through leaves drives water flow up the stems of cut flowers, don’t strip all the leaves from the stem.
  • Use a commercial flower food, they work best at controlling microbial populations, hydrating stems, and feeding flowers. Make sure you follow the directions on the floral preservative packet. 
  • Removing thorns from your roses may shorten their vase life. If damaged during the removal process flowers may be opened up to microbes that could slow down water conducting cells.
  • If your vase solution begins to become cloudy, re-cut the stems and place into a new vase solution.
  • Do not place flowers in direct sunlight, over a radiator, or on a television set. Heat reduces flower life since flower aging occurs more rapidly in high temperature conditions. It is important to avoid all drafty locations because warm or moving air removes water from flowers faster than it can be absorbed through the stems.
  • Keep flowers away from cigarette smoke and ripening fruit, because they contain ethylene gas, which is harmful to flowers.
Red Rose. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

Louis Philippe, China Rose. Also known as the “old Florida rose” since it is found at many old historic Florida home sites and pioneer settlements. Photo Courtesy David Marshall.

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Author: Taylor Vandiver – tavandiver@ufl.edu

Taylor Vandiver

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/02/17/keep-your-love-alive-preserving-cut-flowers/

Soil: What’s Alive Beneath Our Feet?

Soil: What’s Alive Beneath Our Feet?

You’re digging up a ridiculously stubborn patch of Florida betony when an earthworm crawls across your path. As you break apart the soil in your hands a world of active organisms is being sifted through your fingers. Fertile soil is teeming with beneficial microbes. It is estimated that there can be billions of microbes in a single gram of soil.

Bacteria, fungi, and protozoa are major players in soil microbial processes. They perform a variety of functions beneficial to soil and the plants growing in that soil. Other soil organisms of importance are nematodes, arthropods, and earthworms.

Soil_Food_Web

Soil Food Web. Photo courtesy USDA-NRCS.

 

Rather than being an inert material, soil houses a dynamic living ecosystem. Most soil organisms are too small to be seen, however they are still performing a great service to gardeners in many ways. These organisms are vitally important to improving the health of our soils. They also play a key role in making nutrients available to plants.

Soil organisms are naturally active during certain times of the year. Most are active during late spring and early summer when the soil is warm and moist. If the soil dries out during the summer months, soil organism activity will decline. During fall months, if there is rain or snow that moistens the soil while it is still warm, soil organisms may resume partial activity. As the soil cools in the fall, many organisms go dormant. It is important for gardeners to note that soil organisms help breakdown certain fertilizers and during the cool, dry months these fertilizers, if applied, will be less available for plants to take up.

Soil profile. Photo courtesy UF/IFAS.

Soil profile. Photo courtesy UF/IFAS.

Soil organisms are generally placed within three categories: organisms that are beneficial to plants, organisms that play a neutral role in plant growth, and organisms that are harmful to plants. Creating a favorable environment for beneficial soil organisms can improve plant growth and reduce garden maintenance. Encouraging their efforts is key to building a healthy fertile soil. Here are some ways you can encourage beneficial organisms in your soil:

  • Add organic matter to the soil. Soil organisms require a food source from soil amendments (compost, crop residues) and/or mulch.
  • Water effectively. Soil organisms are happiest in an environment that is damp, but not soggy. (Avoid over-irrigation because waterlogged soils will be harmful to beneficial soil organisms)
  • Avoid unnecessary tilling, as it can destroy the mycorrhizae and soil structure. Instead of tilling, mulch for weed control.
  • Avoid pesticide applications that aren’t necessary. Some fungicides, insecticides and herbicides are harmful to various types of soil organisms.
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Author: Taylor Vandiver – tavandiver@ufl.edu

Taylor Vandiver

Permanent link to this article: http://franklin.ifas.ufl.edu/newsletters/2015/01/23/soil-whats-alive-beneath-our-feet/