Got a fresh bunch of blooms? These flower arranging tips will help to make your blooms last longer and look better
Flower arranging tips you need to know to keep your blooms fresh
Best flowers to choose
A great flower arrangement starts with the right choice of blooms, more specifically, how fresh those flowers are. New Zealand Flowers Week featured florist, Alanah Conner from A Twisted Bunch in Christchurch says, “the fresher your blooms and the closer to home they are grown, the longer they will last.” For this reason, she recommends finding and buying local blooms. Ideally, you’ll be able to pick flowers straight from your garden. Conner says pick them first thing in the morning or late at night. The flowers will hold up better than being picked in the heat of the day.
When buying flowers from a store it’s important to check the stems are firm and sturdy. Soft, flimsy stems will not make for a great arrangement. Don’t buy open blooms. Flowers open when they’re at their best, so this is a sign that they’re at the end of their lifespan (there’s potential they won’t even make it back home without losing some petals). Roses should always be purchased as closed flower heads. Give them a small squeeze, if they’re firm they’re perfect to buy. If they’re squishy, steer clear, they will be old.
Raindrops on roses may seem like a romantic notion but should be avoided at all costs when purchasing flowers for an arrangement. Water causes petals to rot, so chances are, if there are water drops on your flowers before you buy them, brown, mushy petals will soon follow.
How to prepare your flowers for an arrangement
As soon as you get your flowers inside, cut the stems on an angle and place immediately in a bucket of water. You’ll have around 10 seconds after you’ve cut the stem before it starts to close up again. The angled cut allows for a greater surface area to absorb water. Make sure you cut the flowers with sharp scissors or a sharp knife to prevent the stem from being crushed, which will hinder its ability to absorb water.
When you’re ready to create your arrangement remove any foliage that falls beneath the waterline. Any damp greenery inside the vase will cause bacteria to form in the water and therefore shorten the lifespan of the flowers. Cut stems again before arranging them in your chosen vase. Conner suggests changing the water and washing the vase every two days.
How can you make flowers last longer?
Don’t underestimate the importance of those little packets of flower food your florist hands out. These are integral to elongating the lives of your flowers. If your stems are a bit floppy, bring them back to life by searing the stem of the flower in boiling water. Submerge 10 per cent of the stem in the water for 30 seconds, ensuring that you protect the head of the flower from steam damage.
Avoid bowls of fruit; fruit releases ethylene gas that will help to speed up the flower’s wilting process.
The most effective method of preserving your flower arrangement is to place it in the fridge each night. Apartment Therapy conducted an experiment where they tested different methods for preserving flowers. By day five, the bunch of tulips that had been placed in the fridge each night was still looking fresh. Come day seven and little had changed. In contrast, the bunches of tulips that had been tested with drops of bleach, crushed aspirin and drops of vinegar (other supposed flower-preserving methods) were severely wilted by day seven.
How important is the temperature of the water?
Warm water will help tightly closed flower heads to open and cold water is preferable for flowers grown from bulbs, but in general room temperature water is best. Google flower varieties to find specific care instructions.
How to revive hydrangeas
Unlike other flowers, hydrangeas can be brought back to life with a good soak. If your blooms are started to look a little wilted, submerge the head of the hydrangea in water for at least 20 minutes. They will come out looking fresh, hydrangeas love water (it’s all in their name. Hydrangea means “water barrel”).
Words by: Bea Taylor. Photography by: Tom Hollow for NZ Flowers Week.