The best of the bunch

Flowers are such a treat and if you're lucky enough to be given a bunch then you'll want to enjoy them for as long as possible. Sustainably grown flowers often don't have as long a vase life as fast flowers but they more than make up for this with their unique scent and character and they definitely benefit from a little care and attention.

How should I cut my flower stems ready for the vase?

When you receive your flowers cut all the stems on an angle and then give them a good drink in a deep bucket to help them rehydrate after their journey. The greatest foe of cut flowers is dirty water, so for starters make sure that the vase you choose is immaculately clean. The ideal cleaning solution for vases is lemon juice or white vinegar as they have effective antibacterial properties but the dishwasher or washing up bowl are fine too.



What sort of vase is best for keeping flowers fresh?

When choosing a vase or jug make sure that it is big enough to let the flowers fall into a natural display once their tie has been cut. It is important to cut the tie because if the flowers are packed too tightly they won't be able to open properly and fulfill their potential. The flowers should be allowed to express themselves and they can't do that whilst still tied. Some flowers such as Tulips, Snapdragons and Gladioli carry on growing in the vase so a hospitable environment will encourage this. During the summer months ceramic or pottery vases are a preferable option as glass conducts the heat (if we're  lucky enough to be enjoying a warm summer) and significantly reduces vase life. Ideally, flowers like to be positioned somewhere which is not in full sun, near a radiator or close to a bowl of fruit containing bananas (which give off ethylene, enemy of cut flowers).

Is there a recommended way to condition foliage for flower arranging?

Prior to arranging, foliage enjoys a good long drink of water as much as flowers do. We tend to remove any leaves that will sit beneath the water line in the vase as they quickly decay and then dirty the water. Keep the water clean, and re-cut the stems if possible, removing any wilting leaves and buds.

What do you put in water to make the flowers last longer?

 Changing the water regularly is important, not just topping up the vase with fresh water. For very large arrangements, changing the water and re cutting the stems isn't always feasible but a top of fresh water will help. To give your flowers the best chance, clean the vase and also rinse and re-cut the stems. By now you may have run out of flower food but you can easily make your own with just three household ingredients. If you are a bleach-free household then just leave it out.

DIY Cut-Flower Food Ingredients

400-500ml water

1 tablespoon sugar

1 dessertspoon vinegar

1-2 drops of bleach

Add all the ingredients to your vase and give them a stir.

*For health and safety reasons, please do not exceed these recommended amounts, and do not create in bulk*

If the worst happens and your flowers flop their heads, don’t panic! Take them out of the vase, re-cut the stems at an angle and wrap the heads tightly in a newspaper with an elastic band or tie to support them. Then place them in a couple of inches of near boiling water for a good half hour to an hour which should encourage the flow of water to their heads. Once finished, re-cut them, remove their support collar and return them to their vase in clean water. Hopefully they will now be feeling happy and rejuvenated.