Tricks of The Trade: Our Top Flower Hacks

As all florists will know, there are countless ‘insider’ tips out there in the floralsphere. From traditional methods for keeping flowers looking fresh for longer to innovative tricks to manipulate stubborn stems or simple ways to arrange masses of multi-coloured blooms, there’s all kinds of advice available. As you might expect, we have some useful tricks up our sleeve and today we’re sharing some of our tops flower hacks straight from our very own florists here at McQueens HQ. Whether you’re a seasoned professional, just starting out, or simply looking for ways to make the most of your shop-bought blooms, read on as we impart some serious insider knowledge.

Andrea Bassolli, Florist and McQueens Shop Manager

Strelitzia always has 2-3 more orange petals hidden in the ‘beak’ of the flower. If you want them all on display, or if the first one has wilted, you can (very) gently open up the beak and pull them out one by one. It is a long-lasting, tropical flower anyway, but this way you can make it last longer by a matter of weeks.

Glass vases are much better than plastic or metal as bacteria won’t grow in them as quickly. Never put woody stemmed-flowers, such as viburnum and lilac in metal vases, as the stems generally block faster than others and they’ll wilt almost immediately.

Little known to some, strelitzia always has two to three more orange blooms hidden in the ‘beak’ of the flower which can be gently coaxed out

Nicola Costain, Contracts Manager

If they’re not completely supported by a vase or otherwise contained, place plant sticks inside the hollow stems of amaryllis to help them to support the heavy flower head. When you first get an amaryllis you can also remove the outer ‘guard petals’ to encourage the flower head to bloom and grow.

Another little trick is to only give tulips an inch or two of water unless you want them to carry on growing. Tulips grow to the amount of water in the vase, so if you put several inches in, they will grow several inches, too! Tulips also tend to grow towards the light, something worth bearing in mind when you’re picking a spot to place them.

Red, orange and yellow flowers in abundance at the McQueens flower shop in Bethnal green
Tulips grow to the amount of water in the vase, so if you put several inches in, they will grow several inches, too!

Sophie, McQueens Flower School Tutor

Hydrangea drink from their petals too, so if yours have gone over, dunk them in water and leave them submerged for half an hour to revive them again. Thier name derives from Latin, Hydrangea meaning ‘water vessel’ and they drink a LOT, if you’re placing them into oasis it’s a good idea to let them have a good drink for 24hours beforehand and spray them to hydrate them afterwards, too.

Whenever you’re buying roses, give the base of the head a gentle squeeze — if it’s hard it’s fresh, if it’s soft don’t buy it! Generally speaking, you’re better off buying flowers that are still tightly closed as opposed to open and in bloom, as they’ll last a lot longer for you.

Purple hydrangea
The name hydrangea derives from Latin and means ‘water vessel’ — needless to say, they drink an awful lot

Duncan McCabe, Florist and McQueens Social Media Manager

One of the first things I learned at flower school (many moons ago) was how to revive roses when they’re still fresh but have gone over. The trick is to wrap them securely in newspaper to hold the heads upright, and recut the stems at a 45° angle before dipping the stems into boiling water for 30 seconds. This will unblock any air pockets in the stems and allow them to absorb water again. Immediately place the stems into fresh, cold water and leave them wrapped until they’ve revived themselves again.

Sweet Avalanche roses
Drooping roses? It might not seem like an obvious solution, but boiling water may be just the thing they need

Emily Mathison, Head of McQueens Events

We always buy in peonies at least 5 days before they’re needed to make sure they’re nice and open, but if they are still a bit too closed you can gently tap the heads on a worktop to get the petals to loosen up. Simply hold the stem with one hand and tap against a hard surface with a ‘hammer’ motion. But just be careful not to bash them too hard!

Sandra Walker, McQueens Events Administrator

Carefully nip off the top three buds from a fresh gladioli head to encourage the remaining flowers to open. You don’t want to remove any more than this as it can leave the gladioli looking a bit stunted, but a careful tweak will result in beautiful, open blooms.

Pink peonies
By far the most popular flowers for summer weddings, peonies are beautiful yet notoriously temperamental

Caleb Goh, Corporate Events Manager

Excess leaves absorb water which can make a flower wilt faster, so always remove the leaves from the bottom two-thirds of a stem (or more) to make sure the water goes straight to the head. Always remember to re-cut the stems at a 45° angle to help them drink, and replace vase water at least every other day to keep your flowers looking fresher for longer.


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