Whether it’s a perfect bunch for the kitchen table, a nice arrangement for your mum or a birthday bouquet for the girl at work, it’s simple to see: we’re a flower-mad lot! But have you ever wondered why your expensive arrangements don’t last that long? In today’s post, I’m offering up the easy basics of long-lasting flowers in five simple steps. Bloomin’ marvelous!
Know how to choose your flowers
When browsing in a supermarket or florist, don’t just grab the first bunch that comes to hand! It’s best to buy flowers that haven’t quite come out yet, or at least have some buds left to bloom – they will last you longer. Make sure that the stems are green and smooth, not slimy and check the water that the flowers are sitting in, it should smell fresh.
Transport your flowers with care
The longer your flowers are out of the water, the unhappier they are getting! Make a bunch of blooms the last thing on your shopping list and get them home as soon as possible once you’ve paid. The quicker you get them into the water, the longer they’ll survive.
If you’re buying flowers for a friend or are unable to get them home quickly, wrap the ends of the stems in a couple of wet paper towels: usually this will do the trick until you’re ready to go! And don’t underestimate the power of sitting your flowers with their stems in the sink if you’re in a mad dash. They can give and take a fancy vase, but they’ll always want water!
Keep trimming your stems
When you’re ready to arrange your flowers, open the cellophane wrapping and lay all the stems out in front of you. Take a peek at the ends of the flowers. They’re probably quite dry and unhappy looking. As you might imagine, this part of the plant is useless now, and only hindering water intake for the rest of the flower. It’s time to get snipping!
Using a sharp knife (scissors squash the delicate stem), and holding the end of the flower underwater to prevent air getting into the plant, cut about 1-2″ off the stem. You should also slice at a 45 degree angle, as this provides a larger exposed area for the uptake of water. It’s important that you continue taking another inch off the stems every couple of days.
Remove any excess greenery
As you slice each stem, take a look at the individual flowers. You’ll notice that most flowers have left and branch stems shooting off in all directions. Be sure to remove all low-riding greenery that will be below the waterline: any excess that’s left to sit in water will eventually turn it a horrible gungy green and in turn make it tricky for the flowers to suck up nutrients.
Use a sparklingly clean vase
Make sure the vase you’re using has been washed in hot, soapy water and is sparklingly clean. Using a dirty vase that is still harboring nasties from its last use is a surefire way to doom your new flowers to a short and unhealthy life.
Add a good amount of freshwater to your vase and pop in the sachet of plant food that came bundled with your flowers. There are endless old wives’ tales about what to add to the water to help your blooms blossom: coins, aspirin, bleach, lemonade etc, but the smartest move is to stick with what the florist gives you. It’s packed full of the nutrients that flowers need to keep them going for a few days longer.
Also, remember that once your flowers are nicely arranged in your vase, it won’t do just to leave them! Their water needs changing at least every other day to keep looking their best, and don’t neglect your stem trimming duties!