Once upon a time I had a Saturday job in a florist’s shop. For a long time after that I couldn’t stand fresh flowers. Weird, right? You’d think it would be the nicest place to work but when you’re selling hundreds of blooms every day it can be really hard work. Buckets of water are heavy and they spill on you and it’s freezing. Also, mouldy stems and leaves smell really bad, and bleaching the mould away isn’t great for your skin. I think it was almost 10 years after I left the job before I bought a single bunch.
However, the rational part of my brain did eventually take over and told me that one bunch of flowers would not be so exhausting as hundreds of bunches of flowers. These days I love having fresh flowers in the home and I’m convinced they have the power to brighten up any room. Here are my tips for choosing them and for making them last as long as possible.
- Choose bouquets where very few of the flowers have opened. If they’re already open you have no idea how long they’ve been open for and they might start to fade the moment you get them home
- Make sure at least one bloom is open, though. Otherwise those “white” lillies could easily turn out to be green or cream.
- Choose flowers with long stems where ever possible. You can cut them down to the size of your vase if they’re too long when you get them home – you can’t extend them if they’re too short
- Don’t be shy about buying flowers in supermarkets, they often come with two-week guarantees and can be just as good as the florist’s flowers which have higher mark ups on their prices.
- Feel free to mix bouquets. You want the pink roses but also the white lillies? Go for it – if the colours look nice next to each other in the store they’ll look nice in the vase
- Exception: Never put anything with daffodils. They don’t play well with others
- Strip the leaves at least far enough that none of them will sit in the water, they’ll go mouldy quickly and will reduce your flowers’ longevity
- Cut the stems on an angle, or even bash them a little. The great the surface area in the water, the longer they’ll last
- Use flower food. Those little green packets make a Litre of flower food water, normally they’re taped to the celophane the flowers are wrapped in. Ask for a couple of packets if you’re in a florist, they’ll almost always let you have them for free
- Change the water every two days if you have time. Clean water looks nicer in a vase and keeps your flowers happier for longer
Bonus tip: If you’re buying birds of paradise, ask the florist whether they’re displaying the first or second bloom. Each flower head has two, sometimes three hidden in the green outer petals, but if you don’t know that you could end up paying the same price for flowers that only last half as long.
Enjoy your bouquets!