There are a lot of weird and wonderful theories out there on how to keep your flowers looking fresh for longer — from spraying them with hairspray to adding sugar, aspirin and even coins to water, everyone has their own peculiar method, and here at McQueens HQ, we’re no exception.
While we wouldn’t recommend using hair care products on your blooms – save it for your barnet – we do have some solid, tried and tested advice on how to make sure your flowers look fabulous for longer as one would expect, after 28 years in the business!
Here’s our no-nonsense advice on everything you need to know about caring for your flowers at home and truly getting the most out of your blooms.
Remove Surplus Foliage
Your flowers will be using energy to maintain the flower head and any foliage on the stem so removing any surplus foliage may help your flowers to last longer. Avoid getting any foliage in the water as this can degrade quickly and pollute the water with bacteria. This will prematurely age your flowers and they will wilt sooner than is necessary.
Cut Your Stems
The stem of a flower is the vessel through which it absorbs water and just like a nick to the skin, it will start to seal itself almost as soon as it is cut. This gradually slows the supply of water which in turn causes the flower to wilt. Snipping off 3-5 mm at a 45˚ angle every other day or so will keep the stems open and absorbing what they need. Cutting at an angle, as opposed to straight across the stem, creates a larger surface area to give your flowers more access to water.
Keep Your Flowers Cool
Warm temperatures will affect the lifespan of flowers and, understandably, it’s not always easy to keep a bouquet cool, even more so in the winter when central heating can wreak havoc with your blooms. The obvious solution is to place your flowers as far away from sources of heat as possible, but if all else fails, moving them to a cool spot after dark (such as a cool window ledge or conservatory) will help freshen things up.
Remember, however, that there are some flowers that thrive on a little warmth; tropical flowers such as phalaenopsis orchids, for example, are much happier at room temperature than the cooler conditions preferred by non-tropical varieties.
Rehydrate with Fresh Water
Here at McQueens, we insist on changing the water in our shop display vases every day, and at home, it should be no different. Apart from the danger of potentially drying out, the longer a bouquet is left sitting in the same water, the quicker the bacteria will build up, causing them to wilt. A fresh supply of water at least every other day is the best thing you can do to make your bouquet last longer, especially if you’re caring for very thirsty flowers – such as hydrangea – which can guzzle through several centilitres a day!
Use Flower Food
Using flower food can help to extend the life of your flowers by providing them with essential nutrients that they aren’t able to absorb from water alone. Most products also include an agent to keep harmful bacteria at bay. This is largely the logic behind most DIY flower preservatives, from lemon juice to mouthwash and vodka; to a degree, they all contain some kind of antibacterial agent (but they also contain other ingredients which may not be so useful, so don’t go mad).
There are many different products on the market; choosing the right one for you will largely depend on the type of flowers you have and how much you’re looking to spend. If you don’t have any to hand, however, providing fresh water, cutting stems and storing your flowers at optimum temperatures will certainly help prolong their life.
Keep Flowers Away from Ethylene Gas
Last but not least, ethylene is an odourless, invisible gas produced by wilting or rotting flowers, foliage and fruits which in turn, causes fresh materials to wilt, too. Always place your flowers away from fruits and vegetables (especially bananas!) and remove any wilting flowers as soon as you spot that they’re no longer looking their best.