Here's how to help cut flowers last longer, according to a professional
Fresh flowers are the perfect trick to brighten up our homes, providing a beautiful, living focal point as well as being a popular, and gratefully received, gift for many occasions.
Keeping flowers looking vibrant and healthy, however, can be a tricky task.
If, like us, you’ve despaired watching your beautiful blooms wilt and droop before their time, you’ll want to find out how to keep flowers fresh in a vase for as long as possible.
While adding a few drops of flower food (often attached to pre-made bouquets found in the supermarket), can help keep your bouquets healthy, there are plenty more secrets to extending their life span.
We've spoken to the experts to find out some common mistakes which can leave blooms floundering and have gathered some straightforward tips to help flowers thrive for longer.
Nicky Paul owns independent florist business, Paradise Blooms and specialises in creating custom bouquets with unusual flowers and foliage. Nicky often mixes tropical flowers, which remind her of the Jamaican landscape of her heritage, with more traditional British blooms for unique designs.
A post shared by Nicky Paul ~ Midlands Wedding & Event Florist (@paradise_blooms)
Caroline Grimble is the Lead Florist at Bloom & Wild, a leading online flower delivery service which sends bouquets in letterbox-sized packaging out to customers across the nation.
Below, both floral experts offer practical advice on exactly how to help cut flowers last longer and keep bouquets in bloom for as long as possible.
How long do flowers last?
To know whether your life-extending efforts are working, you will first need an idea of how long flowers should typically last.
According to Nicky Paul of Paradise Blooms, the length of time your bouquet will stay looking fresh for depends on the type of flowers, as well as how well you care for them. She says you should expect around five to seven days from your flowers as an average, before they begin to droop.
“Tropical flowers tend to last a bit longer,” she adds. “You might get seven to ten days out of flowers such as leucospermum and anthurium.”
How to choose flowers which will last
When selecting the perfect bunch, it can be tempting to go for the bouquet with bright flowers in full bloom, as this will look the nicest on the shelf.
However, bunches with open flowers are further along in their life cycle than bouquets with flowers still in buds, meaning they won’t last as long.
For this reason, you should choose the flower selections which have as many closed petals as possible.
“If they are open, they won’t last as long. I like them to be nice and tight,” explains Nicky, who says to select flowers with a “firm head”.
Stem cutting advice
Once you’ve got your bunch of flowers home, it can be tempting to plunge them straight into water.
“Trimming your flower stems before popping them in water is a must,” says Bloom and Wild’s Caroline Grimble. “It is also really good to cut at an angle, which creates more surface area for the flower to drink from.”
Nicky agrees, saying: “Once flowers are out of water they will seal within a minute or two so even if you then you then dunk them in water, they won't drink properly.
“Remove the packaging, get some tepid water and then cut two to three inches off them."
Some flowers are especially thirsty varieties, such as hydrangeas, and you might need a quick fix to give them a boost.
“If they look a little bit floppy, fill a bowl of water and dip them in for a second [flowers first] and they can drink through the head as well as the stem,” advises Nicky.
How to condition flower stems
Before you can place your nicely trimmed stems into the vase, you'll need to tackle the leaves.
If you’ve ever noticed the water in your glass vase turning green and looking murky, it's likely because the stems haven’t been properly ‘conditioned’. Nicky explains this means "stripping any leaves below the binding point…which is where you hold the bouquet” or where the flowers sit in the vase.
Caroline agrees that it’s essential to, “remove any leaves on your flower stems that fall below the waterline, to avoid them spoiling the water.”
It’s important to make sure you do this process delicately so you don’t bend or damage the stems as it’s easy to “bruise the stems when you're conditioning them and that can allow disease to develop,” explains Nicky.
Where to place your vase
Just as you'd need to think about the best place to plant a shrub in the garden, where you place your vase of flowers will make a difference to how long your bunch will last in good condition.
“Keep your flowers out of direct sunlight and away from heat (like near a radiator), as they dehydrate the blooms,” says Caroline.
She also explains that you’ll also want to display your bouquet away from the fruit bowl because “fruit releases gases that cause the flowers to bloom and fade quicker than they should do.”
How often to change the water in a vase
Unlike plant pots, which can affect the how successfully indoor plants grow, the vase you choose to display your flowers in is a purely aesthetic choice - so go for your favourite!
According to our experts, the actual vase shouldn’t make a difference at all, as long as you make sure it is squeaky clean before placing your flowers inside.
However, once you have your nicely trimmed and conditioned flowers in your favourite vase, it can be easy to forget about the upkeep.
While many of us might simply top up the water when we see it beginning to get low, Nicky says we, “should change the water every other day.”
“For the best result, tip all your water out, clean your vase and then put [the flowers] back in," she says.
Caroline agrees that regularly changing the water, rather than simply topping up, is the best practice.
“I like to recut my stems by 1cm when I refresh the water to keep blooms happy and healthy,” says Caroline. This will make sure the stems are all still able to take in as much water as they need – and don’t forget to make the cut at an angle again.
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