Keep Your Cut Flowers In Tip-Top Shape
Whether you've been sent a fragrant bunch of flowers as a lockdown pick-me-up, or you've decided to bring some vibrant spring blooms from your garden inside to brighten up your living space, here's how to keep any cut flowers looking gorgeous for as long as possible – no floristry qualification needed!
To leaf or not to leaf?
- The first thing to do when you bring a bunch of flowers in from your garden or home from the florist is to strip away excess leaves, especially any which are already wilted. The leaves will continue to transpire (emit water vapour) after your flower has been cut, which can lead to them rotting in the vase water. Only keep leaves that are utterly essential to your arrangement.
- When it comes to particular species, it's best to remove all leaves, so make sure to research how your specific bloom performs as a cut flower to determine whether all the leaves need to go.
- Should stems be cut? It really depends on the type of stem you're dealing with. Some stems, particularly spring bulbs, have a white section at the bottom which won't absorb water, so cut off these ends to ensure your blooms can have a drink. As a rule, 'hollow' stems such as Delphiniums should ideally be filled with water, as they can form 'air-locks' which prevent the flower from absorbing water if they're placed into a vase before filling.
- If the flower head is heavy, get professional with a makeshift support mechanism. After filling with water, insert a length of kitchen skewer into the stem, and then plug the hole with a cotton ball - it might sound fiddly but this is a game-changer for long-lasting hollow-stemmed blooms.
- When it comes to woody stemmed blooms (think roses), give the bottoms of the stems a cut or a whack with a hammer to encourage them to absorb more water.
Change water daily
- Most florists recommend daily water changes to really extend the life of your cut flowers. If it's too tricky to empty and refill your vase or vessel, make sure to add some freshwater each day to flush out some of the older water.
Condition your water with… vodka?
- The trick to keeping your cut flowers looking healthy and gorgeous for as long as possible is to minimize growth of bacteria in your vase water and provide your blooms with nourishment to replace the nutrients your flower would have gotten from its plant before cutting.
- Commercial flower food sachets available at most florists will cover all bases, but it's simple enough to condition your vase water at home. Add a couple of drops of a clear spirit like vodka to the vase water to act as an antibacterial agent, and stir in about a teaspoon of sugar to feed your flowers. Top up the vodka and sugar each time you change your vase water.