How to care for your flowers and extend their vase life.
You’ve received a lovely bunch of flowers, or bought them for yourself. What you do next can vastly affect the length of time your flowers last for. Over the years I’ve come to notice that not everyone knows the best practices to extend the vase life of their flowers. I thought I’d share a few tips to help you get the most from your next bouquet.
Firstly I would always buy good quality flowers. Cheap is not always best. Inexpensive flowers may be 2nd grade, imported or not so fresh. When purchasing flowers look for the following signs of poor quality. Old flowers have open blooms which may feel soft, or even limp, to touch. The leaves and stems should be nice and green, not slimy, mushy or transparent. if the petals are falling off the flowers are really old.If the pollen has burst on the stamen they are on the way out. Ideally you want the blooms to still be partially open or in tight buds. Watch out for spots on the petals or leaves as this may be Botrytis, a furry brown fungus, starting to grow. Imported flowers are often “devitalised” when they enter the country. This is a process to prevent us being able to take cuttings from these flowers and risk introducing a plant pest into New Zealand that we don’t already have. Devitalisation is basically dipping the whole flower and stem into Round Up. Effectively killing the plant material. Nice!
Next always use a clean vase with clean water. This helps to reduce the amount of bacteria in the water. Bacteria will reduce the vase life of your flowers. You can often see it and smell it in the water. One way to limit the growth of bacteria in the water is to remove any lower leaves from your flower stems. A good florist will probably have done this for you already but if you have bought loose cut flowers you’ll most likely need to do this yourself.
If your flowers have been out of water for any length of time you should recut the stems before putting them into your vase. Cut about 2cm off the bottom of each stem, cutting the stems on an angle. This will help to remove any airlocks in the stems and the angle cut will hold the stems off the bottom of the vase. This all helps the stems to take up water.
Every 3 days empty the vase, clean it and change the water. Recut the stems again to remove any dead tissue from the bottoms of the stems. After a week I would imagine that some of your flowers may not be looking as nice as others. This would be the time to remove those bad stems and clean your vase, change your water and recut your stems again.
Adding “flower food” to your water will also improve the vase life of your flowers. Most florists will supply a sachet of this product. I supply you with 2 sachets. The sachet contains a bacteriacide and some sugar to feed the flowers.
I like to fill the vase with quite a bit of water as some flowers are very “thirsty” and can drink a vase dry overnight. Proteas, Paeonies and Hydrangeas are especially thirsty.
Fresh flowers should last 7-10 days, although it’s possible to keep some going for 14 days or longer. They last longer in the cooler months and a bit less in the heat of Summer. Air-conditioning, heating, drafts and direct sunlight may also shorten the life of your flowers. If they wilt quickly and you’ve done all of the above it may be that they are not happy where you have them in your house.
Happy flowers make happy people!