Flowers in your home – Flowers are very much a part of modern living. No self-respecting makeover show would be complete without those five minutes at the end when the makeover genius puts a few vases of flowers here and there and magically ‘dresses’ the room. And you don’t even need to make an elaborate arrangement: one of the virtues of flowers is that you can just plonk them in an old coffee jar and they will look beautiful. If cutting flowers from your own garden, cut them in the morning, before the dew has dried, or in the early evening. Use sharp stem-cutting or pruning shears and cut above a node or dormant bud to encourage newgrowth.Take a bucket of lukewarm water with you and put the cut flowers into it as you work. Leave them for several hours before putting in a vase so they can have a really good drink.
With a commercial bouquet, remove the flowers from the wrapping and using a sharp knife or very sharp scissors cut at least 2.5 cm off the stems on the slant. Blunt scissors will crush the stem. (Don’t bash hard or woody stems for the same reason.) Strip off any leaves that will be below the water line, otherwise they will rot. Place the flowers in a bucket of deep, lukewarm water – up to their heads if possible – and leave in a cool place out of direct sunlight for several hours or overnight. In florist’s parlance, this ‘conditions’ the flowers.
An exception to this softly-softly approach is with sunflowers and zinnias, whose sap tends to ooze. To avoid this, scald the stem ends in boiling water for 20 seconds. You could also use a candle flame. Caring for flowers Ensure all vases are sparkling clean. Dirty vases may contain bacteria from the last lot of flowers, which will rapidly multiply and shorten the life of the flowers. Place flowers in lukewarm water, not cold. Lukewarm water has fewer bubbles, which could get into the stem and prevent them taking up water. Add cut flower food if it has been supplied with the bouquet, made up according to instructions – usually one sachet to l litre warm water. Traditional ‘flower foods’ such as aspirin, copper coins and bleach make little or no difference to the life of the flowers, and in some cases they will wilt more quickly.