Everyone loves having flowers. Especially if you have been given them by someone else!
They make a great gift, they are even perfect for that someone who has everything.
Here’s a quick guide as to what to do when you buy or receive flowers.
1. Recut the stems.
I’m sure you have been told at some point to recut the stems. This is absolutely true, but the thing is that you should be recutting the stems more than when you first receive them. It is best advised to recut the stems a little bit every day when you change the water.
The reason you should recut the stems is because, over time, the stem will seal over. This impedes the flowers ability to draw up water. Think of it the same way a scab forms over a cut or graze on an animal. It is designed to stop letting the vital stuff out. By recutting the stem, you allow the flower to keep drawing up as much water as it needs to maximise its lifespan.
Recut the stems at a 45-degree angle. The reason for this is that it increases the open surface area where the flower can now take up water, as opposed to cutting the stems straight and flat.
An old fashioned technique of allowing maximum water uptake was to bash the stems with a hammer or mallet. Whereas this does provide better uptake than not cutting them at all and even cutting them flat, it isn’t as effective as cutting the stems at an angle.
These days, flowers are grown which are more than capable of survival with only a simple cut. Bashing the stems is messy on your worktop, and makes the water go muggy very quickly. This is not a good idea.
It is definitely a good idea to cut the stems with very sharp scissors, or if you are careful, use a sharp knife. Blunt tools “mash” the stems a little bit when you cut them, damaging the tissue and cells. Damaged tissue cannot absorb water as effectively as cleanly cut stems can. By using a sharp tool, you create a finer slice through the stem, minimising damage to the stem.
2. Give them fresh water. Everyday.
Giving flowers fresh water every day can be seen as a bit of a chore, but it is necessary if you want your flowers to live longer. The reason for this is that because that bacteria begins to grow in the water and some flower stems begin to go slimy. This is especially true for flowers such as Calla Lilies and Amaryllis, for example.
The slimy stems contribute toward the water going cloudy. Not only is this unsightly but it damages the lifespan of the flowers. Not only will the water look cloudy, but if it doesn’t already, it will begin to smell rotten.
Keeping the flower stems away from bacteria as much as possible prevents the flowers from dying prematurely.
During the water changing process, it is important that you recut the stems again and you wash out the vase/container with warm soapy water. Use bleach if you have it. The idea here is that you are getting rid of every little bit of bacteria from the container, otherwise, all your work is for nothing.
3. Use flower food.
After you have changed the water, it’s a good idea to give your flowers some flower food. Use those packets of food that most florists give you with the flowers. Most flowers will be happy with a general flower food but flowers such as Syringa, Tulips, Viburnum and Hydrangea sometimes require a slightly different flower food. The flowers food also contains a bactericide that helps prevent bacteria from growing.
Sunflowers for example, do not like any flower food at all. For then it is best to just use water.
If you didn’t receive any flower food packets with your flowers, you don’t have any to hand, or you just fancy making your own, there is a very simple recipe to follow.
1 teaspoon of sugar, 2 teaspoons of lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of bleach.
By adding that to your vase, you should see them lasting longer than without it.
4. Keep cool.
I’m not telling you to keep your cool, I mean for you to keep the flowers cool. The warmer the temperature, the faster the flowers will open and then die. Keeping flowers in good sunlight and warm temperatures are good if you want them to open from the bud. Once they have opened, to maximise the lifespan of your flowers, it is best to keep them in cooler conditions.
Another note, as well as keeping them away from heat sources, it’s also a good idea to keep them away from ripening fruit as well. Much like putting flowers in the sunshine and warmth, the flowers will finish their lifespan quicker. However, if you just want the buds to open, you can use this tactically. Placing flowers next to something slightly warm (a radiator may be too much), in the sun and next to a bowl of ripening fruit, you can get those flowers to bloom. Then, when they do open up, simply move them away into a more appropriate position.
I have used this method many times to get flowers such as Peonies, Gladioli and Lilies to open up for a wedding!