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Guide to Choosing Flowers

How long do cut flowers last?

This depends on the type of flowers and the conditions they are kept in but generally cut flowers in a vase of water remain looking good for only only a few days to a week. If you are giving flowers as a gift for a special occasion, it is best that the person receives them no more than a day before the event. If you have room, most flowers may be kept in the refrigerator to keep them more fresh, if you want to give/use them the day after you get them.

Some flowers that are picked before the buds are fully open will continue to open and bloom in a vase of water, so they last longer before they wilt. Carnations, daisy-type flowers, lilies, sunflowers, orchids and tropical flowers are amongst those that retain a fresh appearance longer. As a general rule, unscented cut flowers last longer than scented ones but there are exceptions.

How to help cut flowers last longer.

If you have a received an arrangement in a container with oasis/florist foam or similar, simply keep this moist.

If you have received a bouquet (with or without a vase) or have cut flowers from your garden or somewhere else, a little bit of care can considerably extend the freshness of your flowers. Cut the stems at an angle (this gives greater surface area for water to be absorbed and also prevents stems from sitting flat against the bottom of the vase and blocking water uptake). Remove leaves from the stems that will be below the waterline when the flower is placed in the vase. Leaves left below the waterline will begin to rot, which is unattractive, creates messy sludge in your vase and causes bacteria, which then blocks water uptake into the stems.

When we’re thirsty, a glass of cool water is much more appealing than a glass of warm to hot water straight from the tap, so it seems like a vase full of cool water will be more "refreshing" for our flowers. In most cases the opposite is true. Vase water should generally be on the warm side, which makes uptake by the plant stems much easier. Sunflowers like water to be hot, so as hot as you can get water out of your tap is the most "refreshing" for those blooms. However, flowers that bloom in the cooler months in chillier climates (i.e. bulbs, such as tulips, daffodils, etc.) prefer cool water in the vase.

Don’t position your flower arrangement too close to a window, under or on top of an air conditioning or heating unit, or on top of an appliance that heats up, like a television. Some blooms will also track light - i.e. they will lean towards a window, so rotating the position of the vase every day will help them remain more upright. If you have a mixed arrangement, some blooms may wilt before other types. If you carefully remove the spent blooms you may be able to enjoy the fresher-looking flowers for considerably more time.

You can also add water conditioner that comes from the florist with the flowers, or other "homemade" vase additives, such as a tablespoon of lemon juice or a few drops of bleach. These inhibit bacteria growth and/or make the water slightly more acidic, which will mean the flowers are better able to take water up into the stems and keep them fresh for longer. Many people suggest changing the water in the vase at least every second day and re-cutting the stems under water so that no air pockets get into the stem.

There are seemingly countless instructions on how to prolong the life of cut flowers and many may be worth investigating if you regularly display cut flowers or if you are responsible for a large number of displays. For the average person, however, who just wants to enjoy their bouquet of flowers for as long as possible, the following steps are advisable: - start with a very clean vase - use warm water and replace this every other day - cut the flower stems at an angle and remove leaves that would sit below the waterline - keep your vase of flowers away from artificial heat sources, bright light and draughty areas - be sure to stop every now and then to admire your beautiful flowers before they’re gone!

We hope you've found this guide useful.

Be sure to check out our other flower guides for more information.