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  • Kelly

How to care for your flowers- A FLORIST'S SECRETS

I promised a care guide a little while ago now didn't I? Well, it's finally here. This will be a more detailed definitive guide, but a simple and easy quick reference for everybody to refer to, can be found on my very first post called 'Flower Care'. You would think it's pretty straight forward, caring for your flowers, but you'd be surprised. Many people skip a lot of these steps, and others add unnecessary ones. There are actually very different methods out there so I'd thought it time to share the best ways tried and tested, and not to mention; eco-friendly! I hope you enjoy the visuals and diagrams I created...I got carried away.

Number 1 Pretty much the most standard piece of advice- when you first get your flowers, cut the very end of the stems at a 45° degree angle. Why? It refreshes the stems and allows them to take up water quickly- this is important because the flowers will need to hydrate as soon as possible after being on the journey to your lovely homes! They are not cut like this when sold, to prevent them drying out when not in water during the delivery process. There a few particular flowers that require extra steps here. I will be making a separate post about this later, so keep your eyes peeled.

Soap + White Vinegar = Shiny Glass & Happy Flowers

Number 2 CLEAN VASE PLEASE! It may seem like not such a big deal if you use a seemingly clean vase which has been sitting around and not been cleaned in a while....well, if you want to get the most life out of your flowers it's probably best to give it a quick clean first. Placing your flowers in an unclean vase can cause bacteria to harbor much faster around the base of your stems- causing stem blockages and Botrytis- mold. *Florist Secret* If you mix some washing up liquid in a small bowl with water and add a good squirt of white vinegar and use this mix to clean your vases, you achieve 3 things: 1) Super shiny glass 2) Less polluted water ways 3) More anti-bacterial action How? The white vinegar helps to dissolve any coatings of grease or dirt and also gives glass a streak free shine. It helps to kill bacteria naturally, therefore requiring less detergent from going down the drain. This is not only more eco-friendly but very economical. By diluting with water to make a soapy solution, you can use up the whole mix to wash up lots of vases, dishes and whatever else instead of having to use more soap. Despite having vases in constant heavy use, they always look brand spanking new. Did you know? A vast majority of florists use bleach and other very harsh chemicals to clean their flower buckets. This was something I dreaded when trying to find a florist for work experience whist I was back in college studying floristry. I'm highly sensitive to harsh chemicals and the toxic fumes of bleach- I suffer with migraines, nausea and dizziness. I have my lucky stars to thank because the florist that I ended up doing my work experience with, never used bleach! This is still quite a rare practice in floristry. But it showed me that even such a high end and successful florist could achieve the same lifespan of their flowers (if not better) by simply using regular washing up liquid, white vinegar, and a vigorous 'every 2 day' cleaning schedule. I have entered some flower shops and seen some flowers worse for ware- I could smell the bleach in the buckets, but could clearly see the water had not been changed in some time and the buckets were dirty. It's simply unnecessary. Do away with the bleach and toxic chemicals!

Number 3 Fresh water. Every 2 days. Now here's another little florist secret. The florist that I worked in, never, ever, skipped this step. Without fail, every second day, we would empty out the water and re-clean the vases before filling up with fresh water. Unlike a majority of florists, who use bleach, this was a plain and simple natural approach. Replacing the water is fine, and is what most people do, but if you really want that extra life out of your flowers- then re-clean the vase also. This prevents bacteria from building on the surface of the vase and getting into the new water. If you have a garden you can use the vase water that you are emptying, to water your plants. Or use it to wash your front steps with!

Number 4 Re-cut. re-cut. Re-cut.

Every 2 days- each time you change the water, make sure to re-cut 1-2cm off the ends of the stems. Always at a 45° angle. Why? It removes blockages, maintains the intake of water, keeps the stems fresh and reduces bacteria.

Number 5 No heat or draughts! Never keep your gorgeous blooms near a radiator or source of heat. They will age faster, dry out or wilt. This includes leaving them in direct sunlight. Equally, don't keep your flowers in a draughty or windy place that could cause fast temperature changes or constant movement or agitation of the flowers.

Number 6 No bananas! Certain fruits produce large quantities of ethylene gas as they ripen. Some of these include: apples, pears, bananas, kiwis, mangos, peaches and honeydew melon. This ethylene gas causes the aging process of flowers to speed up! Not all fruits produce large amounts and I personally love certain combinations of fruit and flower! I adore seeing bright yellow lemons with baby blue flowers or oranges with white flowers...or how about blueberries and every flower in existence? But to be on the safe side, unless you're creating a renaissance themed display as I sometimes like to do in my home when I'm getting carried away... you might want to keep your beautiful bouquet away from that lovely fruit basket of yours!

Number 7 To flower food? Or not to flower food? This one is down to you. If you do chose to use food, then add it right at the beginning when you first put the flowers in water. After 2 days, throw the water out and make sure to clean the vase before refiling with fresh water. Have you ever noticed the water going cloudy after only day or so when you've added flower food? I find that while the food does give a nice boost to flowers once they have arrived at their final destination, the food also serves to create a breeding ground for bacteria faster than just using plain water. I find stems go slimy after a few days. As long as you clean the vase after the 2 day soak, then there shouldn't be a problem. Personally I don't use flower food as I'd like to try not contribute to water pollution as best I can and, seeing as its not actually necessary to keep flowers in tip top shape, I don't bother. More often than not, the little packets of food are single use plastic and non-recyclable. Very, very rarely I might use some- if a situation calls for it. Say I have fresh flowers in bud but need them to open ASAP for an upcoming event, I'll either place them in a warm room or give them flower food, to speed up the blooming process. I also find it useful if flowers are having a bit of a sulk. When flowers droop, they may not actually be dying. They might just be...sulking. Sometimes, a drastic change in temperature, being too long out of water or some other physical disturbance can cause an otherwise very fresh flower, to droop. If this happens, you can re-cut the stems and use flower food to quickly perk them back up into shape. I have seen droopy fresh flowers bounce back to life and go on to live their standard 7-14 day lifespan like any other flower.

Number 8 Remove dying flowers. Certain flowers naturally age faster than others. As time goes on and your blooms start to age, remove any that are visibly wilted or dead. This helps to keep the other flowers in the arrangement fresher and lasting longer. How? Dying flowers produce ethylene gas. This gas will cause the speed up of aging in the other, fresher flowers. And that's it for now! For tips on how to get the most enjoyment from your flowers once they're seemingly on their last legs, keep an eye out for my next post 'Making it last!'

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