A Floristry Guide to help you get the best from your cut flowers in vases.
This floristry guide will hopefully help you to get the maximum vase life from your cut flowers.
Prepare the Container/Vase
The very first thing that must be done is to ensure the vase or container you wish to display the cut flowers in, is scrupulously clean. Bacteria in vases is a sure fire way of shortening the time you can enjoy your flowers. Washing up liquid is fine for this, scrubbing the inside with a washing up brush will ensure any nasty bugs are scrubbed out of the microscopic pores present in the glass or whatever material your container is made of. Rinse well and allow to dry naturally upside down, on the draining board is fine. If using a zinc vase its best to line it with clear cellophane first or place another container inside, this will prevent the release of zinc ions causing leaf and petal damage.
Prepare the Water
Fresh from the tap is fine, in warm weather cut flowers can drink a surprising amount of water so start with 3/4 full and top up when necessary. For the longest possible vase life its best to add flower food to the water. If you are given a sachet from your florist with your flowers, do use it. If they didnt give you a sachet of flower food then Id suggest you change where you buy them from if you want value for money. Cut flower food in the form of dissolvable crystals mimics the nutrients of the mother plant from which the cut flower stem is harvested. This ensures that scent remains, that buds develop into mature flowers and not die off still in bud and leaves remain green and fresh. There is no need to change the water if you use flower food but if not you will have to re-cut the flower stems and replace the water after 3 days or risk the flowers dying prematurely and the water getting that awful smell from bacteria. Wilting, yellowing leaves, blocked bud development can all be avoided with the correct dosage of flower food in the water.
Prepare the Flowers and Foliages
Remove all leaves and debris from the stems and stalks that will be below water level. Only bare stems should ever be below the water line, otherwise the leaves stagnate and rot under water and produce vile smelling slimey bacteria which is toxic, ie poisons the flowers. Cut all stems at a 45 degree angle, this ensures the best surface area for water uptake and the cutting of the stems makes sure the ends are not sealed and dried out which will prevent water uptake.
Position of your Vase Arrangement
If you've gone to all the trouble above to get a lasting vase of flowers, it can all be in vain if they are placed badly. In summer avoid window sills which get full sunlight, this causes evaporation and also speeds up the aging process. In winter, avoid radiator shelves as the heat will be devastating. At all times avoid hallway tables where the temperature from drafts can reduce vase life, ie the constant opening and closing of doors nearby to the outside causes the humid 'air cushion' which surrounds flowers and leaves replacing it with dry air which in turn causes the leaf to wilt.
The worst enemy to cut flower life is FRUIT believe it or not. It amazes me that supermarkets often have their fresh flowers with the fruit. Fruit is one of the main culprits in the production of what is called ETHYLENE GAS. It is a hormone which promotes ripening of flowers and fruits. Even having older dying flowers or plants nearby can 'ripen' or 'age' your flowers. Best not to buy flowers on sale with fruit as you will already be buying flowers which have been accelerated in their life span. Other sources of Ethylene Gas are the exhaust from cars and gas heaters. So dont buy from the petrol stations if you want lasting vase flowers either! Heavy smoky atmospheres also produce stress in the flowers and that in turn promotes them to produce Ethylene Gas.
So hopefully this guide will make you pause and think nest time you arrange flowers in a vase. Hopefully resulting in a longer vase life for your cut flowers and longer enjoyment from them by you.