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Flower Care and Arranging - Tips from the Flowers & Plants Association

People often hesitate to buy fresh flowers because they think they cant get them to last more than a couple of days. Some flowers are short lived, but most commercially grown flowers will last at least a week if treated right. Commercially-grown flowers are specially treated after cutting, which means they will last longer than varieties cut from the garden.

Before florists can arrange flowers, they must condition/treat them. By following these few simple steps you can get extra life and pleasure from your flowers.
The Flowers & Plants Association recommends the following simple tips, based on the latest extensive scientific research, to ensure that your flowers last longer:

1. Make sure vases are very clean
2. Use fresh lukewarm water with commercial cut flower food added.
3. Strip all leaves below the water level.
4. Take at least 3cm (1") off all stems, making a slanted cut with a sharp knife or very sharp scissors.
5. Avoid direct sunlight, heat, or draughts which can shorten flowers lives.
6. Keep flowers away from fruit and remove faded flowers as they occur.
7. Top up the water regularly and add flower food in proportion.

Buy flowers from a reputable outlet, and choose blooms with firm petals or with buds that show a degree of colour to ensure the flowers will develop fully.
Ensure the flowers are well wrapped for protection and, if the flowers are to be kept out of water for some hours, ask the florist to cover the stem ends with damp paper, or even to "aquapack" them in their own water bubble.

Ask for cut flower food if it is not already supplied. This contains the correct ingredients to a) feed the flowers properly, b) keep bacteria at bay (which blocks the stem and stops water uptake), c) encourage buds to open, d) lengthen the life of the flowers. Snipping the corner off a one-dose sachet and adding it to the vase water is simple and effective - and scientifically tested to make your flowers last longer.

Use lukewarm water – there is less oxygen in it, and helps prevent air bubbles in the stem that will block water uptake. It also encourages some flowers to open up. The only exception to this is spring bulb flowers like daffodils and tulips which prefer cold water.

Use thoroughly clean vases - bacteria kills flowers.

Cut stems at an angle: this gives the stem a bigger area to take up more water, and stops it resting on the bottom of the vase and sealing itself.