Summer is almost upon us and chances are you’ll find yourself surrounded by more fresh flowers now than at any other time of the year; we LOVE summer!!
Whether it be from your own garden, farmers market, or your local florist, so many floral varieties are in season and ready to be enjoyed. A beautiful arrangement, in your home or on your desk at work, is something you admire each and every day; a reminder of special someone, event or simply a bouquet you purchased for yourself because, after all, “the earth laughs in flowers” (Ralph Waldo Emerson), and who doesn’t need a little bit of that?!
We’d like to help you enjoy your bouquet for days to come. We’re here to offer a few pointers and tips to keep those delicate petals looking great for days, if not weeks!
Purchase the freshest stems possible!
Have you ever felt that your newly purchased flowers lose their luster too quickly? It may be that your flowers are not fresh or properly cared for at the time of purchase.
Finding a reliable vendor, florist, or market to purchase your flowers is, often, half the battle. It’s not unusual for large markets without a specialized floral department to simply provide what is commonly known as ‘bucket flowers’, essentially flowers offered at fabulous value, but where stem quality is actually very poor.
Oftentimes these sellers are not receiving a fresh cut upon arrival at the store. Additionally, as customers peruse the options, pulling them out of the water considering their options, the quality of the stems is compromised by this alternating of environments of water/air exposure. This excess handling often results in damage and bruising to the petals, ultimately decreasing the vase life of the stem.
It’s important to seek out a reliable flower supplier that maintains a steady turnover of fresh stems in their shops and has the integrity to discount (at least you’ll know what you’re getting!) or simply dispose of older product.
Here are a few ways to identify a fresh stem while out shopping:
Firmness: Gently slide your fingers from the stem to the petal ends. The petals of fresh flowers should feel firm. If considering roses, for instance, give the blossom a gentle squeeze between thumb and forefinger. If it resists the pressure and feels firm, it’s in great shape. If it’s too soft and gives to the pressure to easily, or the petals feel flaccid, the flower’s nearing its end.
Centres: If you see growing in the eye of the flower, the stem is old. Centres should be firm. Look for seeds or loose pollen inside the blooms. This indicates flowers that were past their prime when they were cut.
Greens: The flowers greens should be full and crisp, or firm, to the touch. Refuse flowers with slime on the stems or broken stems. There should be no sagging, yellowing, browning, blackening, or speckling of the leaves or stem. Flowers with soft, discoloured stems indicate bacteria is present and will inevitably move upward to contaminate the leaves and flowers as the infection develops.
Petals: If there is any discolouration or browning, these are older flowers. Again, firmness is key. Faded colors, transparent petals, petals that are turning brown, or wilting petals all indicate an older stem. Feel the undersides – petals shouldn’t feel limp. As you move your fingers across the undersides of the petals, listen for a faint rustling. This sound is a sign of freshness in flowers.
TIP: Look for flowers flowers with buds that are just starting to open over those that are already fully open. Those precious buds will bloom nicely for you at home in your favourite vase with water.
Now that you’re armed with the information you need to make the freshest possible purchase here are a few tips that will keep your flowers as colourful and full of life as when you bought them.
Forget about pennies in the water. Say ‘no’ to that chemical preservative powder.
Option 1. Thanks to the hard-working research done by flower geeks published in peer-reviewed journal articles, these steps may be just what the flower doctor ordered:
- First, make sure your vase is freshly cleaned thoroughly, bleach if necessary, to ensure there is no existing bacteria to contaminate the water.
- Mix one can of Sprite, 7UP or other nondiet lemon-lime soda with three cans of water. Add a few drops of vinegar. This mixture should be luke-warm to the touch but not hot.
- Strip away any leaves that would otherwise fall below the water line.
- Peel, or pluck, off any petals that may appear bruised or damaged. This will keep the blossom looking good and will also prevent any bacteria from spreading.
- Recut the stems at an angle – so important!! – allowing for the most exposure to water and nutrients, and quickly place them in the still-warm water mixture.
- Display the vase in a cool – also SO important!! – place in your home, out of direct sunlight. DO NOT display your flowers beside or close to electronics as the heat they give off can cause petals to dehydrate.
- Replace water as needed every 3-4 days. Murky water is NEVER a good thing.
Option 2. Simply use the Flora-Life powder that comes with your flowers or that can be purchased at your favourite flower shop or supply.
Option 3. Just water! Keep it super simple and remember to keep the water refreshed every few days.
Foam is terrific for creating floral designs that would otherwise be really difficult to support. It’s also really effective for extending the life of your flower arrangements by giving them a reliable and steady water source.
For best care:
- provide 1/4c – 1/2 cup of cool/luke warm water every day.
- Follow the same display rules as outlined for vase arrangements.
Follow these steps and you should expect to enjoy your flowers looking their best for up to another two weeks!
It’s important, too, to enjoy your blooms in all their stages. A tulip just about to let go her petals or a rose that appears overblown? This is probably the most beautiful phase of any flower, often their most glorious, just before they begin to fade.