You want to have some flowers around the house and you just bought a bouquet at the farmers market. You put them in water and step back to admire your handiwork. Lovely. For a day or two. Then……… Stock gets stinky; tulips keep growing in the arrangement and look painfully lanky; the water in your vase gets cloudy; your house smells like a bog. You feel like a failure. Now what?
This doesn’t have to be complicated. A few tricks and tips can keep your arrangement fresher longer and and you will definitely enjoy them more. Isn’t that what this is all about?
First, start with clean vases. Don’t just rinse them after use and put them away. Clean them with warm water and a little dishwashing detergent. Use a long-handled brush to get into the narrow parts of the vase. Rinse well.
If you are cutting flowers from your garden, keep a bucket of water with you to immediately place the cut flowers into. Cut your flowers in the early morning or early evening. Cutting in the middle of the day is too stressful on the flowers and plants. If you buy flowers, make sure to put them in water immediately when you get home. Even if you can’t arrange them right away, it’s important to keep them hydrated. Have a good pair of clippers to make sharp, clean cuts on the stems of your flowers. 45 degrees is the recommended angle for cutting, allowing the stems to take in more water. If your clippers aren’t sharp, you will crush the stems more than you will cut them, defeating the purpose of trimming.
For thicker branches and stems, multiple cuts from the bottom up about an inch will open up the stem for better water intake. I have seen the suggestion that crushing the bottom couple of inches of woody stems with a hammer will accomplish this as well, but it seems rather uncivilized for a floral arranger, don’t you think? You don’t think so? Good, me either! Smash away!
Strip away any leaves that will sit below the waterline in the vase. If you were entering a floral design in a show, you will get counted off for this. But this isn’t just for show. Removing the leaves will help keep the water fresher because the foliage won’t be underwater decaying.
Next, fill your vase with lukewarm water and add a few drops of bleach. This will kill a lot of the bacteria that sets us up for failure. If you have left-over packets of plant food that come with bouquets, feel free to add those in. Cut flowers like food, too.
Lastly, it is important to change the water every couple of days, trimming the stems of your flowers a little each time, keeping everything fresher all around.
It helps to know a bit about the flowers you are arranging. I have a love/hate relationship with stock because the flowers are sooooo fragrant, but the water gets sooooo stinky. With these flowers it is sooooo important to add the bleach and change the water almost daily.
Tulips keep growing in a flower arrangement. They should almost look too short when you first place them in your vase, but by the second day they will have stretched out a bit to look more proportional.
The flowers of lilies are beautiful and have great lasting power, but the leaves start degrading almost immediately, detracting from the beauty of the flowers, so pick off all the leaves immediately and let those flowers bask in their own glory, or use longer-lasting, complementary foliage to fill in the arrangement.
Gerberas don’t like to have their stems completely submerged in water, preferring only a couple of inches of water, because they breathe through their stems and submerging them deeply would be comparable to drowning them.
Don’t place a vase of flowers in a sunny window. (Do as I say, not as I do.) Basically, the sun will take its toll on the flowers but if that’s where your vase needs to go, then so be it. Just know that it will shorten the life of your arrangement.
Okay, now that you’re a bit more informed, get out there, be bold and conquer the bouquet!