TLC for Cut Flowers

1. Cut flowers early in the morning or late in the evening. At midday, flowers have low water content and less stored starches for energy.

2. Choose newly opened flower or those that are still partially in bud. Mature flowers fade quickly.

3. Carry a pail of lukewarm water with you when you plan to cut flowers. Place blooms in water up to their necks as soon as they are cut.

4. Remove all leaves from the part of the stem that will be below water. Leaves left in the water quickly begin to grow bacteria, which clog the plant stems and prevent water uptake. Some designers put a tiny bit of chlorine bleach in the water to discourage bacteria.

5. Once you’ve cut the flowers you want to use, leave them to soak five or six hours (or overnight) in a cool, dark place. This final step is called “conditioning.”

6. Before you add your flowers to vase water, add a few drops of chlorine bleach to the water. The bleach will reduce the number of bacteria in the water and does no harm to the flowers. If you choose, you can add a professional preservative – sold in florist shops and garden centres.

7. Some flowers require a little extra help to prolong vase life. Flowers that exude milky sap from the stem, such as poppies, should have the cut end dipped in boiling water for 30 seconds. Take care to shield the bloom form the steam of the boiling water.

8. Flowers from bulbs, corms and tubers, (such as glads and dahlias) should be conditioned in cold instead of lukewarm water. Some foliage, such as ferns and ivies, keep better if the entire stem, leaves and all, is conditioned in cold water before being placed in the vase.