Floristry Tips - How To Make Fresh Flowers Last Longer

Special treatment should be given to certain flowers to give them the longest life possible.

Flowers with woody stems do not take up water readily. Woody-stemmed flowers include lilac, hydrangea, and rhododendrons. To help break down the thick fibres, you can split the ends of the stems upwards for about 5 cm and then place the stems in a container filled with warm water and give the flowers a long drink before arranging.

Flowers with Milky Stems

Poppies, poinsettias and dahlias have a milky liquid flowing through their stems. To seal this liquid in and make the flowers last, the ends of the stems should be held over a flame like a candle, gas jet or cigarette lighter. Hold the end of the stem over the flame for about thirty seconds until the end of the stem turns black. The flowers should be held on an angle to protect the delicate petals. Another method is to dip the stems in boiling water for about thirty seconds.

Hold the flower heads away on an angle and protect the petals from steam by holding newspaper around the flowers. Place the stems immediately in warm water and give the lowers a long drink before arranging them. If the stems need to be recut later on when arranging the flowers, you will need longer stems for the top and shorter ones for lower down in the design. You will need to repeat the above steps. To avoid this, you could cut the stems to different lengths before sealing the ends of the stems.

Bulb Flowers

Certain flowers grow from a bulb. These include tulips, daffodils, jonquils, narcissus, irises and hyacinths. These flowers often have a white portion at the ends of the stems. Cut this white portion off before conditioning as only the green part of the stem can take up water. Daffodils, jonquils and narcissus have a thick sap which oozes from the end of the stems when they are cut. Wipe off the sap before placing the stems in water. Keep these flowers separate from other flowers when they are being conditioned, as the sap can affect other flowers. The thick sap can clog the ends of stems and prevent the uptake of water.

Stand the stems in about 7 cm of water and allow to stand at least six hours before arranging. Bulb flowers prefer shallow water. If daffodils, jonquils and narcissus are placed in deep water, the thick stems can become waterlogged and the stems shrivel up and the petals go papery.

Wilted Flowers

Wilted flowers with the flower heads drooping can often be revived by standing the stems in very hot water (not boiling) right up to the flower heads. After the water has cooled, allow the flowers to stand in the water for a few hours before arranging. Roses can often be perked up by floating the whole stem, head and all, in warm water for half an hour.

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