Cut flowers are a beautiful addition to any room. They are pleasing to the eye, they lift the mood and provide a fresh fragrance that brings a little bit of the outdoors inside.

How long your bunch of flowers lasts depends on their condition when you buy or cut them, and how well you prepare and look after them.

Buying and Cutting Flowers

For longer life and for the pleasing experience of seeing flowers progress through their lifecycle, flowers should be bought, or cut from your garden, when they are still in bud or half open, rather than in full bloom.

Be careful, however, that your flowers aren’t too young. The colour of the petals should be starting to show. Buds that are too tightly packed may not open at all once the flowers have been cut.

The Right Time of Day

If you are taking flowers from your own garden, they should be cut in the early morning. At this time of day the levels of moisture and nutrients in the stems are at their highest and will provide the flower with a greater store of what it needs to stay fresh and perky.

Never cut flowers in the middle of the day. The water content of the stems will be low and the flower will not last long after cutting.

Stem Preparation

Remove all leaves on that part of the stem that will sit below the water. Leaves below the waterline pose a danger to the longevity of your flowers as they will rot and pollute the water.

Note: Flowers drink water only through the cut part of their stem, not through its trunk. In most cases you’ll only need between 7 cm and 10 cm of water in your vase. More than this will only contribute to stem rot and water pollution.

Care of the Cut

To ensure that the flower is able to absorb the maximum amount of water, your flowers should be cut at a 45˚ angle – this provides more surface area for the water to pass through.

If you have bought your flowers, they may already be cut in this manner. You should, however cut them again 2cm to 4cm higher. Stems that have been cut for any length of time begin to grow cells over the cut which impede the absorption of water. Likewise, the sap excreted at the cut by some varieties of flower will inhibit the passage of water.

Flowers with woody stems do not absorb water as readily as soft-stemmed flowers. To help them along, the stems of these flowers should split or crushed for about 2 cm from the cut.

Water

Changing the water every day will prevent your flowers sitting in stale water that has become de-oxygenated and polluted with the bacteria that feed on decaying plant matter.

You can, however, save yourself some time by adding a little bleach to the water (one tablespoon per litre of water). Bleach will prevent the growth of flower-harming bacteria and keep your water clear and attractive.

A teaspoon of sugar added to the water will help provide nutrients for the flower and extend its life.

Water treated in the manner described above need only be changed twice a week.

Note: Flowers will absorb luke-warm water more easily than cold.

Maintenance

Place your flower display out of direct sunlight and away from heat and drafts.

Remove dead flowers and leaves promptly. Dead flowers emit ethylene gas which will hasten the death flowers nearby.

Keeping flowers in the fridge overnight will extend their life further. If you can’t fit your display in the fridge, place your flowers in the coolest part of the house when you go to bed.

A Little Care Goes a Long Way

Flowers are expensive, getting the most out of them helps stretch that household dollar. Selecting flowers at the right stage of development, and a little attention to their care afterwards, will go a long way to ensuring those beautiful blooms aren’t littering your carpet two days after you bought them.

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