22 October 2014

Arrange Your Flowers! - # 4 - How To Make Your Cut Flowers Last Longer

This is the fourth instalment of 'Arrange your Flowers' - and it's about how to take care of your flowers - once you have conditioned them and made your arrangement at home.

I have written about this before - but this time I have revised and added lots of new information. 

So bear with me - because this is good stuff and all these tips will make your flowers last much longer!

1. Change the water in the vase every couple of days. The stems will start to deteriorate as soon as they are cut and all the stems sitting in water will speed up this process. Changing the water frequently will remove the build up of bacteria in the vase and your flowers will last longer.

Also try to re-cut the stems when you change the water. Stems can become blocked with bacteria and reduce their ability to absorb water. By making a fresh cut you will give the flower a freshly cut area that will make it able to better absorb water and therefore prolong the life of the flower. This might not always be practical - you don't want the arrangement to fall apart and you don't want the stems to end up looking too short in the vase. But it's a very good idea if you are able to do it.

While you are changing water and re-cutting stems also remove any dying flower heads or wilting leaves. Please, see point number 4 below for the reason behind this. 

A very useful trick if you have a large arrangement or you don't want to take the arrangement out of the vase - is to put the whole arrangement - vase and all in the sink under the running tap and let the water run clear.

You have to be able to pick up the vase - it might be very heavy when full of flowers and water, the sink has to be deep enough for the vase to fit under the tap and you have to dry the outside of the vase - but if you can do all that then you're OK to use this method.

2. Flowers will last much longer if you are able to put them in a dark cool place during the night. A dark place like a garage, or an outside storage area are ideal. Any unheated room or area like a conservatory, balcony or porch is second best.

Just putting the vase outside without any cover at all might be a bit hazardous. In my case I live in a neighbourhood with lots of cats, squirrels and even foxes - so in that case you never know what could happen. But even so wind and rain might not be very kind to your arrangement.

If you live where the temperatures drop below freezing in the winter - then keep in mind that cut flowers don't like it that cold! Find a place to put them where there is no frost.

3. Avoid putting your flowers too close to any heat source like a radiator or heater, in a window with direct sunlight or close to any electronic equipment that gives off heat. Warm and dry atmospheres encourages water to evaporate through the leaves and will dry out any plant material. 

4. Also avoid placing flowers next to any ripening fruit or vegetables. Ripening fruit produces ethylene gas that will make your flowers wilt faster. Different flowers are susceptible to different degrees - but even so it's not a good combination. The flowers most affected are carnations.

Sometimes combining flowers with fruit or vegetables in an arrangements can make striking combinations - just be aware of the effect ethylene gases have on cut flowers and that they will speed up the wilting.   

Decaying plant material also produces ethylene gas so therefore it's important to remove any dying flower heads and any yellowing leaves. This is both to keep the arrangement looking fresh but also to slow down the whole decaying process.

5. Some flowers in an arrangement will last longer then others and or they might not look as nice as they did to begin with. So when this happens don't be afraid of de-constructing the whole arrangement. Discard any faded flowers, cut the stems shorter and make up a new arrangement or several smaller ones. 

Maybe use bud vases or make up a collection of bottles with just one stem in each or make new arrangements in some jam jars. All different ways to make one arrangement last for as long as possible.

6. Always make sure that any container you use is watertight. If you use a glass vase you can obviously be certain - but if you use a vintage vase or container of any other material you can never be certain. Pottery, china and metal are all to be treated with suspicion! It might take a little while for the water to seep through - so be aware of that leaks might not show up straight away. I have learnt from bitter experience and I have ruined many surfaces. If you are not sure - always put a saucer, plate, tray or dish under the vase. Or you can make up the arrangement in a glass jar or similar and place that inside the larger container.

Here are links to previous 'Arrange Your Flowers!'

Have a Creative Floral Day!

~ xoxo ~


[Styling and photography © Ingrid Henningsson for Of Spring and Summer.]


martinealison said...

Bonjour chère amie,

Merci pour l'ensemble de vos bons conseils... je ne savais pas que les fruits trop mûres pouvaient aussi faire des dégâts que les fleurs toutes proches.

J'aime vos photos toujours si agréables à admirer.
Gros bisous ❁

Frances said...

Ingrid, this post is full of helpful information. Some of the tips are new to me and therefore doubly welcome.

Every one of the pictured arrangements gives a great illustration to what you've written.

Really, really lovely!

Things and Thoughts said...

How many useful advice Ingrid!Thank you! Your vases and color combination are fantastic!

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