Whether you purchase flowers yourself or receive a surprise delivery, there are things you can do to increase the life of your bouquets and arrangements. Most flowers last between four and seven days, depending on the level of care they receive. How you care for your flowers will differ depending on the arrangement, so check with the florist for any specific care tips or requirements. For general flower care advice, here are some basic pointers to get you started.
Transferring your flowers
Before you transfer your bouquet or loose flowers into a vase, you should cut their stems. This is important for any pre-cut flowers or pre-arranged bouquets that look a little tired from being out of water.
To prepare your flowers for cutting, partially fill a clean sink with lukewarm water and submerge the stems in the water. Keeping your stems underwater while you cut will minimise the chance of any air being drawn into the stem, which can affect the flower’s ability to reabsorb water.
Using a sharp pair of flower snips or kitchen scissors, cut 2-3cms from the end of the stems at a sharp angle. Cutting your stems at an angle creates a larger surface area, allowing the stem to absorb water more rapidly. This will extend the life of your flowers by up to 32%. Avoid cutting through nodes on the flower stems – these appear as almost ‘knuckle’ like sections on the stem length.
Preparing your vase
As a golden rule, the vase you choose should be tall enough to cover up to half the length of your flower stems. If you have trouble fitting your flowers into the vase, you can always trim the stems further to ensure a better fit.
Before transferring your flowers into the vase, clean your vase thoroughly, get rid of any soapy residue and use clean water. Make sure you strip any foliage from the stems that would otherwise be submerged in water as this is a major contributor to bacteria in the water, which will shorten the life of your flowers.
Choosing the right vase will depend on the shape, size, flower types and overall look of your flower arrangement. Different shapes of vases complement different flowers. For shorter stemmed flowers, use a shallower vase to give the arrangement structure. Ask the florist for any tips or suggestions on the right kind of vase to showcase your arrangement.
Keep your Flowers Clean and Hydrated
Once you’ve placed your flowers in the vase and created an arrangement, be aware of positioning your arrangement. Factors such as sunlight, heat and drafts can affect the life of your flowers. Display your arrangement in a cool location away from drafts, direct sunlight, heaters, air conditioners, and fresh fruit. Though this last one might sound odd, fruit releases ethylene gas as it ages, which can trigger the early death of fresh flowers.
Make sure your flowers have a daily supply of water. This means topping them up when the water gets low, and changing the water every two days. With self-contained arrangements, all you need to do is check it regularly to make sure there is enough water and the oasis is kept moist.
If scum develops on the inside of the vase, remove the flowers, clean the vase, and fill it with clean water. Remember to re-cut the stems before transferring back into your cleaned vase to get maximum longevity for your arrangement.
If you want to learn more flower care tips and flower arrangement designs, take a look at Jemina’s upcoming Floristry short courses at the CAE.
Jemina Richards is a highly experienced florist with over 30 years’ experience in the floristry industry. She completed her floristry apprenticeship at Box Hill Institute while working for Myer, organising the floristry display for the Little Bourke Street window. After completing her apprenticeship, Jemina moved to the Mornington Peninsula where she purchased Eliza Flowers, one of the leading florists in the region.
Jemina’s experience in corporate and wedding floristry earned her the community vote of Best Wedding Flowers in the Mornington Peninsula, and since then she has worked major events such as Melbourne Flower and Garden Show, The Grand Prix and Spring Racing Carnival. Her wedding flowers has been featured in Channel 9’s Who’s the Bride and Melbourne Bride Magazine. Jemina taught floristry at the Whitelaw School of Flowers and currently teaches at Box Hill Institute and the CAE. You can check out Jemina’s upcoming Contemporary Floristry and Floristry in a Day short courses.