Magnolias add fragrant elegance, beauty and charm to any cut flower arrangement. These blossoms are incredibly delicate and notoriously short-lived once removed from the plant. If you pick them properly and handle them carefully, these fragile treasures will last up to seven to nine days in a vase, depending upon variety.
Watch magnolia buds closely when they appear, and check on them daily. Flower buds will swell and fatten, while leaf buds will remain elongated.
Cut the stem at a 45-degree angle with clean, sharp knife or shears when the first tepal, or petal, of the magnolia bud begins to loosen and unfurl. Do this very early in the morning or late in the evening when blooms are full of water. Plunge the cut end into a container of lukewarm water immediately.
Remove excess foliage from the cut magnolia flower stem to reduce moisture loss. Make sure the water in the container is still lukewarm. Cover the flower with a clear plastic bag to further conserve moisture. Place it in a cool spot in subdued or no lighting for about two hours before handling the flower any further. Refrigerate it after that if you need to keep it any longer before arranging.
Dissolve 1 tsp. of sugar in a qt. of lukewarm water in a clean vase. Add 1 cup of lemon-lime soda and 1 tsp. of bleach to create a floral preservative. Arrange your stems including the magnolias, but avoid touching the petals and don’t overcrowd flowers into the vase.
Place your arrangement in a cool spot out of direct sunlight and away from drafts. There should be no ripening fruit in the room. Refrigerate the flowers overnight.
Recut the bottom inch from each stem under running water and change the water in the vase every other day.