The secret liquid ingredient that keeps cut flowers fresher for longer is right there in your cupboard of cleaning materials. Jik! Yes, a teaspoon of bleach per litre of water is all you need to make those chrysanthemums look perky for days.
This advice comes directly from the largest producer of fresh cut flowers in the Western Cape as well as supplier to Cape Grace – Carel Malherbe, Flower Production Manager at Oak Valley Estate in Elgin. He is in charge of growing 130 different varieties of blooms that brighten up your living room and says that the secret to longer lasting flowers is to keep the water clean so that the capillary action in the stem does not get blocked. This means cutting the stem before putting it into water and making sure there are no leaves below the water line (and of course adding the special component).
“Chrysanthemums are easy,” says Carel (who has been doing this for ten years) as he points to row upon row of primary colours looking like a child’s paint box. But it takes lots of research by laboratories in Holland to develop exactly the right shade of pink that will satisfy customers this season. Trend forecasters and store buyers decide what colour that will be and Carel just shrugs his shoulders and goes with the flow. From gerba daisies to oriental lilies, sunflowers and irises, Oak Valley is a flower lover’s dream!
His favourite greenhouses are those planted with Inca Lilies – a delicate South American flower that requires botanical expertise and observant staff for the blooms to reach their full potential. New varieties – a deeper powder-pink or a larger white flower head – are always being developed and Oak Valley pays royalties to grow each variety. It’s not an exact science, but with trial and error Oak Valley have got it down to a fine art. View their flower catalogue to see it for yourself.