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        Caring for Fresh Cut Flowers, Bouquets and Floral Arrangements
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Caring For Flowers

These tips should help you to enjoy the most out flowers you have purchased from a florist or flowers delivered to you by a florist.

How to care for cut flowers

Most flower arrangements will last between 4-7 days, depending on the flowers that have been used and the care they receive. Factors such as heat, sunlight and drafts may affect the vase life of fresh cut flowers.

Tips to help prolong the life of your flowers:

  • Always keep your flowers in a cool place
  • Keep flowers away from direct sunlight
  • Keep flowers away from heating or cooling vents
  • Keep flowers away from ceiling fans
  • Keep flowers away from fruit and vegetables
  • Do not place flowers in metal vases or containers
  • Do not place flowers on televisions or radiators (appliances give off heat, causing flowers to dehydrate)
  • Use flower food/preservative to prolong flower life
  • Use a clean vase - wash the vase to ensure it is clean
  • Clean water regularly - every two days
  • Add 1 drop of bleach (kills bacteria) to water
  • Remove any dead blossoms, leaves or foliage from the arrangement
  • Cut stems on an angle with a sharp knife (details below)

Caring for flower arrangements

When you receive a flower or floral arrangement, it is important to place and display your flowers in the correct position - refer to the tips listed above.

The most important thing to remember with flower arrangements is to make sure that the container is always filled with clean water to the top. Some arrangements may need to be watered daily, so remember to check the water level. If the water dries up and the flowers have started to droop, there is little one can do to restore the flowers to their original state.

Arrangements often come in their own display container, with its own water reservoir. You may choose to leave the arrangement in the container and add water or you can remove the flowers and place them in a vase. A common alternative is to leave the arrangement in the original container and then as flowers and foliage die off, move the remaining flowers to a vase to create a smaller arrangement.

Caring for flower bouquets and fresh cut flowers

When you receive or purchase an arrangement of flowers, flower bouquet or fresh cut flowers, it is vital to get the flowers in to water as soon as possible. Remember that the flowers have already been under some stress during transport/delivery. Attend to the flowers at your earliest convenience.

Firstly, fill a clean vase with cold tap water. As a general rule, if tap water is safe for human consumption, it should be safe for flowers. Generally, in Australia, the water quality is quite good. Otherwise, you may use bottled water or distilled water in your vase.

If your vase is dirty and requires cleaning, clean the vase thoroughly as you would with any kitchenware item. Once cleaned, ensure the vase is rinsed several times to remove any soap suds that may remain.

Take your flowers to the basin or sink and cut a small section off the end of the stem on a 45 degree angle. Use a sharp knife to make a clean cut, avoid using a serrated knife which may damage the flowers. You only need to cut off 1-2cm or less. This allows the stems to draw up water as the old part of the stem would have dried up and been filled with air pockets. Do not remove the thorns from roses. Be careful not to crush or damage the stems when you handle the flowers.

Remove any leaves or foliage that may make contact with the water.

Once you cut the stems, place them straight into a clean vase, with clean water. Be mindful to place your flowers in a good position to avoid the precautions noted earlier.

If you choose you can also place flower food/preservative in the water for extended vase life. Read the packet carefully and only place the specified amount. Remember to change the water every 2 days or so. You can also re cut the stems again if you choose at this time. Some flowers will begin to die off before others. Remove these from the arrangement or vase.

Florist Works recently conducted an experiment comparing different methods of extending the vase-life of cut flowers. To see the results and which methods work best, read our article Caring for cut flowers - Flower food experiment.

Keep your flowers away from fruit and vegetables in the kitchen. Fruits and vegetables, as they ripen, produce ethylene gas which will shorten the life of cut flowers.

Buying flowers from a florist

The best time to buy flowers from your local florist is in the morning when it is still cool and the Sun is less radiant. There are some simple things to look out for before making your choice. Often species of flowers are grouped together and it's usually the fresher ones that are hardest to reach. So, ask the staff to help you or select a bunch that is further to the back of the display stand. As the older stock sells, the more recent stock is brought forward and this is how flowers are cycled. Take note for yellow leaves, open blossoms or flower stems that give off an odour, this often means that they have been there a couple of days already. Aim for bunches that have buds and are starting to open. Be careful not to buy flowers too closed, because you run the chance of them not opening fully (lilies are an exception here).



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