June 29, 2010

Tips for caring for your cut flowers

When you get in the business of selling cut flowers, you end up having lots of discussions about where they came from, how I grew and picked them and how to make cut flowers last as long as possible in a vase.

The last question is an interesting one because we have all bought a bunch of flowers which has keeled over almost immediately and others which have been chucked out after a month, still in bloom, when we just can't face the same vase of flowers sitting on the table a minute longer and wonder about the chemicals with which they must have been treated.

Clearly, my flowers have not been irradiated or kept in cold storage so are unlikely to last for weeks on end, although some of the gorgeous seed heads and grasses do go on and on. Having said that, I would hope that most of my flowers would last between 5-10 days. People sometimes have suspicions about flowers cut from the garden or wild because of memories of picking them as kids and seeing them wilt before they even got to the house, but actually garden flowers if properly harvested, conditioned and cared for can give many days of pleasure and often outdo the supermarket types for scent and charm.

So, how do cut flowers like to be treated once you have bought them??

There are two things that are the kiss of death to cut flowers, one is heat and the other is lack of water(sorry if that is stating the bleeding obvious!). So if you, say, have purchased your bunch on a hot day, wandered around some shops, had a quick coffee and a drive home, your poor flowers will already have lost most of their potential days in the vase! Instead, when you have bought some cut flowers, just get them into water as fast as you can, giving the stem ends a slanted snip, (under water is best), so that if they have gummed up, water will be free to flow up again. If the water can be tepid rather than freezing cold that will help, as will sharp scissors. Is this sounding bossy?! There's more...

The other thing that sends cut flowers heading to the bin is bacteria which clogs the stems and blocks the water flow. For this reason it is important that your vase is spotless and that you change the water every couple of days, and certainly if there is any cloudiness or smell. Infact if they get whiffy or visibly gunky they are on the way out already. The flower food you may find with your flowers should be added to the water and will help keep bacteria at bay.

Keep your arrangement away from heat - windowsills, tv, radiators etc and also away from fruit, tobacco smoke and car fumes, all of which emit ethylene which can shorten the life of some flowers significantly.

Top up the water as necessary and remove spent blooms. If they begin to look a bit peeky, a quick snip of the stems and clean water can add a day or two. For droopiness try the same, and searing the ends in a mug of boiling water for 10 seconds  can work wonders. Never buy if already droopy - a good lesson for life!!

Above all, enjoy your flowers - their fleeting beauty, scent and the fact they make you enjoy the moment! Its ok if they die, they are going to!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Belinda:

    Just been looking through your archives on this, my first visit to your informative and interesting blog.

    Thanks so much for sharing this particular post.

    I love to have fresh flowers in the home (wish I could grow them as you do!) - mostly I rely on bought bunches, some of which last well and others which do not. I'll apply your suggestions from now on :)

    Super blog!