Annual flowers, such as marigolds, germinate, grow, bloom and die all within one season. Some perennials, such as petunias, are also grown as annuals, mostly because they cannot survive cold winters. One way to further enjoy these flowers is by picking and bringing them indoors. Do this simply for your enjoyment or before a predicted storm or high winds when the flowers could be damaged. Pick and store these cut flowers in a specific manner so they will last a long time.
Select the flowers to pick. Annuals that have multiple buds should be picked when they have at least one bud open and one beginning to open. Pick flowers that have only one flower on each stem when it is completely open.
Cut annual flowers during the early morning when it is cooler. Use clean, sharp garden clippers to cut the stem about 1 inch from the bottom and at a 45-degree angle.
Place the cut flowers immediately in water. Carry a bucket of water with you, if necessary.
Fill a plastic or glass vase with lukewarm water (around 100 to 110 degrees Fahrenheit) and mix in a packet of floral preservatives. Alternatively, make your own by mixing in 1 tsp. of sugar, 1 tsp. of chlorine bleach and 2 tsp. of lime or lemon juice to each quart of water.
Pick off the bottom leaves before placing the flowers in the water. Wait an hour before you try to neatly arrange the flowers.