What is the best way to cut the stem?
Cutting a piece off the stem of the flower is essential for its ability to absorb water and flower food, in order to develop in a natural way. Cutting also implies creating a wound, which could become infected. Blunt knives and cutting tools, and the resulting stem damage from their use, can lead to an explosive growth of micro-organisms in containers and vases. Therefore, the cleaner the cut, the better it is for the flower.
- Use a shape and clean tool, such as a knife or secateurs
- Disinfect and sharpen your tools at least on a daily basis.
- Cut at an angle of approximately 45°: the wound will be clean and smooth. If you cut the stem straight it flattens the stem too much and causes much more damage. Research has shown that when more than 50% of the stem is plugged up, it is detrimental to the flower’s life. Water absorption is slowed down too much which causes the leaves to wilt and the flowers to develop poorly.
- General advice is to remove 2-5 cm. This is only sufficient if the flowers have been out the water for about 30 minutes. Otherwise, best is to cut off 5-10 cm, as this completely removes all contamination that may be present.
Note: it is a myth that a long, slanted cut surface opens more vessels and improves water absorption. This dates back to the time when flower food was not available and water absorption with only tap water in containers and vases was laborious.