How to Preserve Fresh-Cut Gardenia

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Gardenias (​Gardenia jasminoides​) remain a popular garden favorite throughout USDA hardiness zones 7 or 8 through 11. Their snowy white blossoms fill the air with fragrance, making them ideal for cut-flower arrangements in the home. However, they do require special care when being harvested so that your fresh-cut gardenias remain beautiful for as long as possible. Learn how to preserve fresh-cut gardenias so they last for many days of enjoyment.

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Carefully Harvest Fresh-Cut Gardenias

When you go out to your gardenia bush to gather your flowers, you'll need to take a few precautions.

  • Although not exactly a delicate flower, it's important to wear gardening gloves when you cut your flowers. Otherwise, oils and dirt on your skin may discolor the white flower petals.
  • Hold the flowers by the stem when making the cut to ensure a clean cut and to avoid touching the petals.
  • If you are harvesting more than just a few blooms or will take more than a few minutes to choose your flowers, take a container of lukewarm water outside with you.
  • After cutting, place the fresh-cut gardenia stems in the water to keep them hydrated.

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Prepare Your Fresh-Cut Gardenias

After bringing your fresh-cut gardenias inside, you want to do all you can to keep the stems healthy and hydrated. Here's a step-by-step guide to preparing them correctly:

  1. Start by cutting the stems at a 45-degree angle to the desired length for your vase.
  2. To further promote hydration, slice the stem lengthwise approximately 1/2 inch long.
  3. Also, remove any leaves from the stems that will be in water. This not only pushes water to the flower and foliage above the water line but it also helps reduce bacterial growth in the water.
  4. Fill your vase with lukewarm water and add a floral preservative to make the flowers last longer and keep the water clear.
  5. If you prefer, you can use sugar and bleach instead. Make sure to blend well so the sugar completely dissolves. (Typically, a recommended amount is 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 tablespoons white vinegar, and 1/2 teaspoon of bleach for every 1 quart of water.)

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To further keep your gardenias fresh, change the water in your vase every three or four days. If you start to see bacteria growth along the side of the vase, change the water as soon as possible. Be sure to remove all evidence of bacteria from the vase before refilling the vase. Re-trim the stems, and follow the same instructions for refilling the vase with water, sugar and bleach or a floral preservative. Return your flowers to the vase.

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Display Your Fresh-Cut Gardenias

With their creamy white blooms and dark, glossy leaves, fresh-cut gardenias make a stunning arrangement all on their own. However, if you prefer to add a few accents, lavender, thyme, and rosemary make lovely additions. When arranging your flowers, wear cotton gloves to avoid soiling the white petals. As an alternative, you can place gardenia blooms in a shallow bowl of water as a floating flower arrangement.

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Once you have your fresh-cut gardenia arrangement prepared the way you like it, you're ready to set it out to enjoy. Look for an area that is cool, out of direct sunlight and not drafty so the blooms will not dry out quickly. Also, keep them away from fruit. Fruit gives off ethylene gas as it ripens, which will turn the flowers yellow.

If you plan to make a corsage with your fresh-cut gardenias, you can store the blooms in a plastic container in the refrigerator for up to 24 hours. Again, just make sure it's not around fruits or vegetables to avoid contact with ethylene gas.

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