Bought, delivered or cut from the garden flowers don't have to be a case of “here today, gone tomorrow”. With a little care, your cut flowers can last a week, ten days or maybe even a fortnight: giving longer pleasure, scent and colour. Especially when they are a gift or from a wedding, you want them to have as much longevity as possible. So here are our top five tips to longer lasting blooms.
1. Choose wisely … don't go for bouquets where every flower head is already in full bloom, because that means the show is almost over already. Choose instead arrangements with lots of closed buds still waiting to give you a great display. This is especially true for roses: choose a bunch where all the flowers are still closed up or just starting to unfurl. Pick carnations too, as they are amongst the longest lasting, naturally.
2. Cut … cut! Yes, the flowers have already been cut, but cut them again. Get a sharp knife or some shears, nothing remotely blunt, and make a clean snip about an inch or two from the base of each stem. This should be at a 45 degree angle, so more of the stem and the vascular system has direct contact with the water. Do this under running water too, so the cells don't start to close up or take in air bubbles.
3. Water in well. Just like still growing plants, cut flowers need water above all. Warm water will encourage the buds to open, but cold could add to longevity by making the flowers slower to bloom. Giving them a nice long drink, but remove ALL foliage which is going to lie below the water line. Otherwise, it's just going to rot.
4. Feed me, Seymour … luckily, most plants have a sweet tooth, unlike the carnivore in Little Shop of Horrors. They need sugars to live. So, that little sachet of plant food is an absolute must. Put it in before the flowers, and mix well. Don't forget: you'll need a new one for every time you change the water.
5. Clean and spruce. The water will need changing every two to three days, or when it starts growing green or murky. Yes, mould, bacteria and fungus are an inevitability, even though various -icides are contained in that sachet plant food. Try and wipe down the stems gently to remove slime, then recut the bottom of the stems for a new boost. Remove any drooping leaves and take out the flowers which have wilted early. Give them a nice new arrangement and place them once more in a bright, sunny and draught-free location.
Now there are some home remedies you might like to try, as well. Several people suggest alternatives to bought flower food. Lemon, vinegar and aspirin can be used to kill bacteria, as they are all acids. Fizzy drinks contain sugar, so make good food. Some people add bleach or mouth wash to the water to slow down mould, while old copper coins are meant to be fungicides. Opinion differs on the validity of a lot of these traditional methods, but if you don't have plant food, its worth a try. Most bought cut flowers now come with a free sachet, however.
You should be able to keep your cut flowers healthy and blooming for many days, avoiding the superstition that dying or dead flowers bring bad luck to a home. Instead, you'll be able to enjoy them as long as possible, their smell and their beauty. Just follow the simple five steps.