How to care for cut flowers
There are few things that bring as much joy as receiving a big, beautiful bouquet of flowers. And there are few things more disappointing than having those flowers start to wilt and die the very next day. “Cut flowers are the primadonnas of the plant world,” says The Flower Scene owner Lisa Cannuccio. “If you don’t treat them like VIPs, you won’t get the best performance from them.”
The good news is that it’s not very difficult to make sure your flowers get everything they need to shine. So before popping them into the vase, Lisa suggests doing little prep work to give your flowers the best chance to succeed.
1. Choose the right-sized vase for the job
Selecting the right vase for the job will not just give your floral display the stage it deserves – it can also ensure the longevity of the flowers.
The vase should be big enough so that your blooming buds aren't overcrowded, but not so big that the flower arrangement looks sparse in comparison. The stems should extend down to the bottom third of the vase and all stems should be submerged in water, but not be resting on the base – of course, you can cut the stems if they are too long. Also, make sure the vase neck is the right width. Too wide, and your carefully arranged bouquet will lose all structure. Too narrow, and you might crush your stems.
Don't have a big enough vase? Break up the floral arrangement in smaller bunches so you can enjoy them at different spots around your home.
2. Clean the vase thoroughly
No one likes a dirty vase… except the bacterial nasties that could ruin your bouquet. Once you’ve picked the perfect vessel, give it a good clean in hot soapy water and dry it well to remove any detergent residue.
3. Fill the vase with water (at the right temperature)
You want the water to fill the vase two-thirds of the way. If your flowers are still buds, then room temperature water will encourage them to bloom (the exceptions are gerberas, lilies and tulips which prefer cold water). Once opened, cold water will help keep your flowers looking fresher for longer.
If you want to be really fancy, you could use filtered water to remove any extra minerals or chemicals that the flowers don’t need (such as fluoride), but most blooms are happy enough with regular Australian tap water.
4. Treat the water
When you buy a bouquet from The Flower Scene, we send it home with some flower food. This little pouch is a plant powerhouse filled with goodies that buds would have in their natural environment. It provides energy, balances the pH levels and prevents bacteria from growing. Make sure you follow the instructions on the packet; flowers are delicate little – well, flowers – and too much or too little could damage them.
5. Cut the stems
Using a sharp knife or scissors, cut at least 2-3cm off the bottom of the stem at a 45-degree angle. Cutting it on an angle gives a greater surface area for the water to nourish the flowers and also prevents the stem from sitting on the bottom of the vase, which would "plug" the blooms. It's really important that the knife or scissors you use are VERY sharp or you risk crushing the stems.
6. Trim below the waterline
It's important to remove any leaves or foliage that will dip below the water level. Leaves in water will rot, making it a perfect environment for bacteria and fungi, but not a happy place for your flowers.
7. Good lighting is everything
To look your best, good lighting is key – and don’t your buds know it! Your flowers should brighten up the room but not be somewhere too bright (you don’t want to fade their beauty). Keep them in a cool spot with indirect sunlight so you can admire their loveliness without making them wilt.
8. Keep away from the fruit bowl
An apple a day may keep the doctor away, but your flowers will disagree. Certain fruits can give off ethylene gas that will speed up your flowers’ ageing process. Oh, and cigarette smoke is bad for their health, too.
9. Check the water regularly
Every 2-3 days you should check the water level and top it up as needed. Stagnant water is the perfect breeding ground for bacteria, so as soon as the water is starting to look cloudy, replace it entirely with fresh water and more flower food.
10. Get rid of the deadweight
Remove any dying flowers or faded foliage to keep your arrangement looking fresh and stunning, and avoid attracting mould that can attack your healthy flowers.
And that’s all there is to it! 10 simple steps to help your cut flowers live their best life and keep them looking amazing.
What's your best tip for caring for cut flowers? Let us know in the comments below.