These are questions that, as a florist, I am often asked.  The way you look after, or condition, flowers will have a significant effect on how long they will last.  The reality is that from the minute flowers are picked they begin their cycle of decay so it’s all about preserving the flowers and making them last as long as possible.  It’s not difficult to look after fresh flowers but the more care you give them, the better your flowers will last.

This blog will show you 10 easy steps to follow to get the most out of your fresh-cut flowers.

  1. Remove Wrapping

 This may sound obvious but, if you receive a gorgeous bouquet from a local florist wrapped to perfection, it might be tempting to leave the wrapping on.  Cellophane wrapping can cause flowers to sweat and will increase the chances of bacteria developing between the stems so remove packaging.  This will allow air to circulate around the stems.

If you receive a hand-tied design made by a florist you can however leave the inner string, which ties the whole design together, in place.

2. Clean Container and Clean Water

Use a clean vase which has been thoroughly washed or bleached and fill with clean tepid water. Water which is too hot or too cold could shock the flowers.

3.Add Flower Food

If your flowers come with flower food, add it to the water according to the instructions.  If you don’t have flower food you can add homemade flower food using the recipe at the bottom of this blog.  Be aware that some flowers don’t like or need flower food – bulbs (e.g. tulips, daffodils), sunflowers, gladioli,

4. Remove Lower Leaves

Remove all the leaves that will sit below the water line.  They will only rot and spoil the water causing bacterial growth. This is particularly important with supermarket flowers that are unlikely to have been conditioned in the same ways that florist shops ones have been.

5. Cut the Stems

Cut a good couple of centimetres off each stem.  Use sharp scissors and cut at an angle to open up as much of the stem’s capillaries as possible.  This will allow the flowers to keep drinking.

6. Don’t Overcrowd

Cramming too many flowers into a vase with just cause them to decay more quickly as air will not be able to circulate and bacteria will grow more easily.  If necessary, split the flowers between vases.

7. Keep Away from Heat Sources and Direct Sunlight.

Heat and bright light will speed up the decaying process so keeping fresh flowers away from heat sources is vital.  This includes fireplaces, radiators, ovens, kettles and sunny windowsills.  The sun through a window can actually scorch the petals so choose somewhere out of direct sunlight and as cool as possible.

8. Change/Top Up Water Regularly

Your flowers will drink! So, make sure you top up the water regularly and change it every 2-3 days to prevent bacteria building up.  If your vase gets very dirty during the life of the flowers, take them out and give it a good wash before refilling.

9. Remove Dead and Decaying Flowers

Different flowers decay at different rates so if something in your vase starts to rot, remove it so that it doesn’t contaminate adjacent flowers.   

10. Move To Smaller Containers

As you remove dead stems try and move the flowers to smaller vases.  This way your design will always look full.  Some stems can last for weeks so it’s a great way to keep enjoying them.

I hope this blog has been helpful.  Taking a few minutes to look after your flowers is definitely worth it. So, whether it’s a supermarket packet or a beautiful gift bouquet,  follow these tips and enjoy your flowers for as long as possible.

Flower Food Recipe

  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon of bleach
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon or lime juice
  • 1 litre of lukewarm water.