Flower Care

Cut flowers can brighten up any room and add life and colour to your house. If you follow our tips, you should enjoy your flowers for as long as possible.

  • Keep cut flowers cool until you can get them home or to the lucky recipient.
  • Take care when removing any packaging, especially cellophane. This often contains water, which the florist has added to keep the flowers fresh (in which case, you should pierce the packaging and drain the water into a sink). If the flowers are tied, be careful not to cut the tie. They have been specially arranged and are ready to go straight in a vase – untying them may spoil the arrangement.
  • When you arrive home with the flowers, gently lay the bouquet on its side and use a sharp knife or scissors to cut approximately 3cm off the bottom of the stems at a 45% angle.
  • Cutting the flowers with blunt scissors may pierce or smash the stems. This destroys the water vessels and thus inhibits water uptake. It also gives the bacteria more surface area to multiply and shortens the flower’s life.
  • Making a slanted cut provides stems with a bigger surface area for taking up more water and also stops them from resting flat on the bottom of the vase, limiting their water intake. Place your floral arrangement in a vase large enough to allow the stems to reach at least halfway down. Then, fill it three-quarters full with lukewarm water, adding the flower food supplied in accordance with the instructions on the sachet.
  • It is better to put flowers in warm water, as lukewarm water contains less oxygen than cold water and reduces the amount of air bubbles likely to form in the stem’s network of tiny conductive vessels, blocking or limiting water uptake.
  • It is vital to ensure that your vase is completely clean, as residue from previous displays can harbour bacteria. These bacteria will block the tiny tubules that carry water up the stems, causing your flowers to wilt.
  • You should also remove any leaves or foliage that lie below the water level, as leaves in the water promote bacterial and algae growth.
  • Flowers thrive in light, cool positions (18 – 22C, or 65 – 72F), away from direct sunlight, heating or cooling vents, radiators and other appliances that give off heat.
  • Warm temperatures encourage flowers to respire at a higher rate and fade more quickly – so the cooler the room or location they’re in, the longer they will last.
  • However, draughty spots—such as in a hallway or near open doors—will not benefit your flowers either because they cause petals to dry out faster.
  • Avoid placing bouquets or arrangements near ripening fruit or leaving dying blooms in the display. These both release tiny amounts of ethylene gas, which causes flowers to age faster.
  • Do not use metal containers, as they neutralise the effects of flower food. Some cut flowers, such as tulips, continue to grow and will grow towards the light.
  • Remove fading flowers as they occur. This will also encourage any buds to open and stop bacteria from developing.
  • You should spray all fresh flowers with a gentle mist of water daily and deadhead the floral arrangement regularly to remove any dying flowers.
  • If the water in the vase looks cloudy or smells, throw it away and refill the vase with fresh, lukewarm water. Before replacing stems, trim them with a sharp knife or pair of scissors, cutting off approximately 3cm each time to remove any air bubbles that may have built up in the stems’ sensitive network of water-transportation vessels. Continue to add flower food to the water, as it contains a biocide that helps to keep bacteria at bay. (Additional sachets may be purchased at florists and nurseries.)
  • When only a few flowers remain, transfer them to a smaller vase, cutting the stems if necessary. The best length to keep the stems straight is when the vase’s height is between half and two-thirds the length of the cut stem.
  • If you are given an arrangement in green (Oasis) foam, make sure that the water-retaining foam is wet. Gently pour clean water into the centre and back of the arrangement, and check the water level daily. However, these arrangements will not last as long as flowers are kept in water.
  • Do not mix Daffodils and Narcissi with any other flowers unless you have taken precautions. They produce latex from their stems, which is more commonly known as ‘Daffodil slime,’ which shortens the life of other flowers.
  • Lilies benefit from special care. When they open, they show their pollen-covered anthers. Remove these anthers to make cut lilies last longer (and prevent staining).
  • Supplied in easy-to-use sachets, floral food contains three additives which work together to nourish flowers and deter bacteria:
  1. sugars to feed the blooms and encourage buds to form
  2. biocides that kill the bacteria, yeasts and fungi
  3. acidifiers to help water move up the stem more easily

There are myths about adding substances such as lemonade, aspirin, or bleach to the water. Lemonade or sugar helps flowers open but also encourages bacteria to breed. Bleach is more likely to kill the flowers than help them. Other myths include coins and aspirin, which do nothing.


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