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The Easiest Ways to Extend the Life of Your Fresh Flowers

Just as we know that eating right and exercising makes our bodies healthier, there are some key points to looking after living plants and fresh flowers that are often overlooked. I like to think that after almost 20 years in the industry, I have a fairly good idea of how to look after most house plants and how to keep my vase going for as long as possible, but even I am guilty of skipping some of the steps on occasion.

Just a couple of weeks ago, in the busy days leading up to Christmas my darling mother and I made a horrendous error in judgement. Knowing that we had 4 places to go throughout the day, and enjoying gloriously hot, summery days, we chose to buy an orchid plant at our first stop. It certainly was the most convenient time to buy the orchid logistically on that particular day, but after sitting in the car for some 4 hours, the poor orchid plant was left scalded and burnt. The flowers and foliage were all wilted and sadly, that orchid was not going to be sitting centre stage on any table this season, if at all.

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I stifled a little laugh as we approached the car, not because it was funny, but because I really couldn’t believe that my mother, a orchid enthusiast, or myself as a florist had done something so obviously stupid. I guess it was just a case of the silly season getting the better of us.

An orchid enjoys humidity, however cannot handle direct sunlight ESPECIALLY throughout the middle of the day. The car would have created an oppressive, hot and dry environment that the orchid simply could not handle. Had it been a cactus it would not have had the same effect…

Obviously leaving any living thing in a hot car is going to have disastrous effects. Just as you would not leave a child, an animal or even fresh milk in the car, fresh flowers and plants should not be left in the car for extended periods of time.

Some of the most common mistakes people make when (not) caring for fresh flowers include;

RECUTTING STEMS

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Fresh cut flowers have been cut from their life source; from the source of their food and nutrients, as well as water. For this reason, the cut stem seals to ensure that excess moisture is not lost, and therefore needs to be opened or ‘re-cut’ before being placed in fresh water.

Who has ever been in a rush- run inside their home with fresh flowers and either left them on the bench, or thrown them directly in water before recutting them? You are certainly not alone, but by leaving the stems sealed, or worse, without water for extended periods of time, will drastically effect vase life.

Cut flower stems on a diagonal, removing approximately 2cm from the length.

CHANGING THE WATER REGULARLY

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Cleaning your vase every couple of days and refreshing the water will extend your vase life too. As your flowers deteriorate, bacteria breeds in the vase water, and in turn shortens the vase life of your blooms. By emptying the vase and using cleaning agents to ensure the bacteria is removed from the vase surface, the fresh vase water will stay fresher for longer.

KEEP FLOWERS FROM DRYING OUT

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Keep your fresh flowers and plants away from direct sunlight; unnecessary, harsh sunlight will deplete your blooms of moisture and dehydrate them prematurely. Keep your fresh flowers out of the direct line of draughts like air conditioning or windows.

Now, I’m not going to lie to you, in harsh, hot conditions like we have been having, fresh flowers and plants can suffer. By choosing hardier blooms, tropical and natives you will enjoy a longer vase life.

Fwf x

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Hello Summer!

Yay! Summer is here! In my books that equals, long sunny days, beach trips, and sand…. EVERYWHERE! On one hand, with more hours of daylight everyday, we spend more times outdoors, enjoying the environment and activities with family and friends. On the other, our home becomes our cool, calm, clean, sanctuary to retreat to after a hard days work or activity. Flowers are never more important! :-)

Having said that, with summer, comes shorter vase life: with blooms opening more quickly, and wilting just the same. Vase water becomes depleted seemingly overnight, and can become smelly fast too!

The thing about Sydney’s summers is that the weather is so inconsistent; hot one day, cool the next, extreme fire warnings, then terrifying thunderstorms or hail…..and it is the dramatic changes in temperature and humidity that wreak such havoc on us, and on the blooms available throughout the warmer months.

In an industry governed by weather, it is sometimes hard to say how long a bloom will last for you at home, whether it will be available in a week or two, or even what colours we can guarantee. This is sometimes hard for people to understand, but we are at the mercy of Mother Nature and really have no control over some of these bigger issues and what consequences they may have. For example, did you know that with a spell of hot weather a pure white David Austin Rose, becomes ‘flushed’ with a pale pink?

Or did you know entire crops can be destroyed by storms or hail? Some times this damage does not show up for several days, and in some cases that means it has already passed through the markets and our store and has made its way to your home.

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Damaged crop of Hosta leaves. Image: Gardening Blog

I’m not quite sure why people expect so much out of flowers, knowing how the hot weather affects us all. Perhaps it is because they are a luxury item, and if they don’t last as long as the consumer believes they should, then perhaps they can’t find room for them in their weekly budget. Whatever the case, it is our job to educate the consumers on realistic vase life and care instructions.

Many of the seasons favourites do suffer in the extreme heat, and as a result, during late Spring, Summer and even early Autumn, you will see decreased vase life. Some of these seasonal beauties, in the heat of summer, may very well only last 3 days, and that is totally reasonable. Whilst air conditioning can dehydrate flowers, it would be preferable for your vaseful of flowers to be in a cool room. Avoid placing your vases in direct sun, near draughts (windows) or leaving your flowers out of water for long lengths of time after purchase.

A couple of weeks ago a very good customer of mine came in to complain about a vase of flowers he bought from us, in the week of the 43 degree heat. The Peonies, Delphinium and Columbian roses had lasted 6 days. The reason he chose to complain was that he had been used to our flowers lasting up to two weeks during winter and was extremely disappointed that he hadn’t seen the same longevity from this vase.

We explained that the choice of flowers had been different, the weather had been unseasonably warm, and that the vase life that he had enjoyed was pretty realistic given these factors. He wasn’t thrilled. He believes that rather than let him choose his arrangement based on what he liked, we should have told him not to buy those blooms given they were not ‘long lasting’. Had he asked what blooms were long lasting, I certainly would have steered him in another direction, however he hadn’t. He had chose the arrangement himself based on what he liked.

What do you think, should we ‘warn’ consumers about the vase life of each and every flowers voluntarily before they purchase? Or should we simply answer the question when asked?

Whenever someone begins their flower brief with “It has to be long lasting” we are immediately restricted to things like native blooms, tropical or lilies….but often this isn’t the ‘look’ they are after. As designers it makes it difficult for us to provide something that fulfils each of the requirements of the brief. After all, you can’t have it all!!!

If like me you like to enjoy things whilst they are in season, knowing that that moment in time will pass and you won’t get it back, here are some summer favourites:

Peonies (December)

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Garden Roses

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Buddleia

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Tuberose

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Dahlias

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Frangipani

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Gardenia

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Gloriosa

Gloriosa superba

 

Hydrangea

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Til next time,

Fwf x

 

 

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