Flower Care Tips
Caring for your flowers once you have received or bought them is very important if you want your flowers to last. Most reputable florists take great care in selecting the freshest flowers at the markets, but taking care of them once they are in your home is entirely up to you. Of course we want your flowers to last for as long as possible, so we’ve put together this simple, easy to follow flower care guide to help you get the most out of your floral displays.
How to Check if Your Flowers are Fresh
- Make sure the flowers look clean and healthy. The stems should be green and smooth, and not slimy.
- The water should smell fresh.
- Check that there are no broken stems, drooping buds or missing petals.
- Chrysanths: the centres need to be green.
- Roses: the head should be firm not soft.
- Lilies: should be mostly in bud or just starting to open when they arrive. Fully opened lilies won’t last long.
- Check that flower heads (like roses) are not being held up with wire.
- Feel that the floral foam/oasis is wet.
Before You Put Your Flowers into a Vase
- Keep cut flowers as cool as possible, until you can get them into water, but not in front of a fan, air-con or in a fridge.
- Make sure the vase and cutting tools are clean.
- While under water, cut the flower stems an inch or two up the stem at an angle, as an angular cut gives a larger area for the stem to absorb the water. We explain why this is important further down.
- Remove any leaves that will be below the water surface.
- Use the packet of flower food that comes with your flowers.
Caring for Your Cut Flowers & Flower Arrangements in 3 Easy Steps
- Keep your cut flowers and arrangements out of direct sunlight and drafts .
- Vases: Change the water frequently (preferably every second or third day) and add flower food.
- Cut the stems each time you change the water. We explain why further down.
Arrangements: Pour water mixed with flower food into the middle of the arrangement onto the floral foam (oasis), feel with your finger that it is wet, and repeat daily or every second day.
- Remove any leaves and foliage that may be under water.
- Cut one inch off each stem with a sharp clean, knife or shears at an angle, while holding the stems under water in a sink or under running water, this prevents air bubbles forming in the stems. Keep your roses hydrated until you transfer them into your vase or container.
- Arrange roses in warm water, as hot as bath water (37˚C or 100˚F) with a good floral preservative in a clean vase or container. The warm water allows your roses to absorb the water and nutrients with greater ease and will provide additional days of vase life.
- Display your fresh cut rose arrangements in a cool area away from direct sunlight, drafts and ripening fruit.
- Check water regularly and repeat above steps every 2-3 days. Make sure foam materials are completely saturated and the container is full daily.
- Reviving your roses – Submerge the entire rose under water in a sink or bathtub for about 30 to 60 minutes, the rose should have absorbed enough water to replenish itself. While submerged, cut off 1 - 2 inches of the stem using a sharp knife or scissors. Remove drooping or discoloured petals and you have given your roses a ‘face-lift’.
- Remove any leaves from the stems that may be under water.
- Cut about one inch off each stem with a sharp knife or shears at a 45˚ angle. Try not to let the newly cut end dry off before arranging it in your container.
- Water and a good floral preservative solution destroy bacteria in the water, help the buds to open and add additional days of vase life.
- Immediately after the stems are cut, place your lilies in a clean, deep vase of preservative solution.
- Fresh cut Lily arrangements should be displayed in a cool area out of direct sunlight, drafts and away from fruit and vegetables.
- Lilies are thirsty flowers. It is important to check to see that the vase is full and add preservative solution often. Make sure foam materials are completely saturated and the container is full daily.
- Once your lilies start to open, carefully remove the pollen stamens with a tissue as this will enhance the life of the lily and prevent damage to the petals. If you get any lily pollen on your clothing DO NOT rub it off with your hands (this rubs the pollen deeper into the fabric). Use a toothbrush or a dry towel to brush the pollen off.
- Remove plastic protective cups or wrapping from the flowers.
- Cut about one inch off each stem at an angle, with a sharp knife or shears. Do not put too much pressure on the stems while cutting as this will crush or bend them, destroying the ability for them to absorb water. Keep the newly cut end hydrated until placing it in your container.
- Place flowers in warm water (32˚C or 90˚F) to which a good floral preservative has been added that will provide additional days of vase life. Generic Spring Water can also be used instead of the floral preservative solution.
- Always display your fresh cut Gerbera daisy arrangements in a cool area out of direct sunlight and drafts.
- Regularly check to see that flowers have enough clear water. If the water becomes discoloured, change the water and add a preservative solution. Make sure foam materials are completely saturated and the container is full.
- Gerbera stems are highly susceptible to bacteria blockage. This may cause the head to droop over. Use clean water, cut regularly and replenish preservatives every 1-2 days.
Why Use a Flower Preservative or Flower Food?
The simple answer to this question is that flower preservatives like Chrysal, Flora Life and Vase Life are designed to make your flowers last as long as possible. Most preservatives have three main ingredients that help achieve this:
Keeps the vase water clean by killing bacteria, fungi and other micro-organisms on flower stems and vase surfaces.
Sugar helps your flowers open and keeps the petals bright and colourful.
Many preservatives contain a gentle acid like citric acid that will slightly acidify the water to help the flowers take up more water. Vinegar (acetic acid) will also work fine.
How to Make your own Flower Preservative
Home mixes can be as effective as commercial preservatives and are easy to make since they contain household ingredients that most of us have in our homes.
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- ½ teaspoon household bleach (The Germicide)
- 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice (The Acidifier)
- 4 Cups warm water
- 2 tablespoons white vinegar
- 2 tablespoons sugar
- ½ teaspoon household bleach
- 4 cups warm water
Why You Should Cut the Stems Frequently
If the stems of your fresh cut flowers are dry for more than 30 minutes, for example when transporting them home, you should cut the stem as soon as you get home before arranging them in a vase. When a flower is cut and kept dry, the stem seals itself off at the cut to protect itself against infections and drying out, similar to a wound on our skin. This greatly reduces the flower’s ability to absorb water or even stops it completely, which causes the entire flower to die quicker. This also happens when stems are in vase arrangements for long periods of time. The ends of the stems soon become waterlogged and mushy when in water, which causes the flowers to droop and lose their petals more quickly due to a lack of hydration. This is why it’s important to re-cut the stems every two to three days. It’s also worth noting that most of the germs and organic matter accumulate towards the bottom of stems, making this a portal for bacteria growth. Re-cutting each stem will ultimately keep your flowers alive and fresher for longer.
Why You Should Cut 1-2 Inches off Stems
Many florists will suggest cutting ¼ to ½ an inch off your stems, however, 75-85% of bacteria, organic matter and germs are lodged in the bottom 1-2 inches of stems. It’s important to open the stem tissue by eliminating micro-organisms with a fresh cut so that the water and flower preservative can flow freely through the stem towards the head of the flower for proper nourishment. For this reason, try to trim the stems 1-2 inches with an angled cut (if you have a shorter stem flower, try to stick with close to 1 inch). Use a sharp knife or sharp floral cutter or scissor to make the cut. This will help ensure proper water uptake for the stem. If you are worried that trimming 1-2 inches will result in your arrangement not being tall enough for your vase, try using an opaque vase and inserting floral foam at the bottom of the vase to add height back to your arrangement. Also, don’t forget to trim the foliage so it doesn’t get submerged in the water.
If you’re worried that cutting the stems and changing the water will disturb the flower placement in a beautiful arrangement, tie the stems with twine just above the vase’s rim before taking them out to cut. Make sure you hold the tied arrangement firmly as you re-cut the stems. Once you are finished, place the arrangement back into the clean vase, remove the twine and refill it with fresh water and flower preservative.
Plant Care Instructions for Orchids
- Keep your Orchid on a windowsill or in a location with medium bright sunlight (not direct sunlight).
- Give it water when the soil begins to dry out, usually every 7 to 10 days. Feel if the soil is wet. If it’s wet, wait another day or two – DO NOT over water it, as this can kill your beloved plant.
- Fertilize your orchid with plant food once a month.
- Re-potting: As soon as your orchid is finished blooming, take it out of the pot, trim any dead or rotting roots, use a new pot with fresh moss and bark mix and re-pot the plant which is essential for new growth.