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.
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;
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
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
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.