To get the best from your flowers...
1. Make sure vases are very clean.
2. Use fresh lukewarm water with commercial cut flower food added.
3. Remove any leaves that will be below the water level.
4. Cut at least 3cm (1 inch) off all stems, making a slanted cut with a sharp knife or very sharp scissors (placing in water immediately afterwards).
5. Avoid direct sunlight, heat, or draughts which can shorten flowers' lives.
6. Keep flowers away from fruit.
7. Top up the water regularly and add flower food in proportion.
- Buy flowers from a reputable outlet, and choose blooms with firm petals or with buds that show a degree of colour to ensure the flowers will develop fully.
- Ask for cut flower food if it is not already supplied. This contains the correct ingredients to a) feed the flowers properly, b) keep bacteria at bay (which blocks the stem and stops water uptake), c) encourage buds to open, d) lengthen the life of the flowers. Snipping the corner off a one-dose sachet and adding it to the vase water is simple and effective - and scientifically tested to make your flowers last longer.
- Use lukewarm water - there's less oxygen in it, and helps prevent air bubbles in the stem that will block water uptake. It also encourages some flowers to open up. The only exception to this is spring bulb flowers like daffodils and tulips which prefer cold water.
- Use thoroughly clean vases - bacteria kills flowers.
- Cut stems at an angle (preferably with a blade rather than scissors).This gives the stem a bigger area to take up more water, and stops it resting on the bottom of the vase and sealing itself.
- Put gerberas in only a few inches of water. As gerberas lack leaves, if the water level is too high you'll effectively drown them, causing the head to droop.
- If you've left your roses in a hot car on the way home, rescusitate by freshly slicing the stem and laying them in a bath of cold water.
- As your lily flowers open, snip off the stamens to keep pollen to a minimum. This will save pollen stains on your fabrics. If you do get pollen on you, wrap some sellotape sticky side out around your hand, and dad the pollen off (never get it wet, or rub it!).
- Keep lily blooms away from your cats, as lily pollen is poisonous to them. Clip the stamens as the blooms open, and keep the plants out of your cat's reach.
- Smash or pierce the stems, or use blunt scissors, as this destroys the water vessels and inhibits water uptake, and causes bacteria to multiple more quickly and over a larger area. It also causes the flower undue stress which shortens its life.
- Mix daffodils and narcissi with other flowers. They emit latex from their stems when cut, which is known as `daffodil slime', and shortens the life of other flowers. Keep daffodils alone in vases, or use the special bulb cut flower food which makes them safe to mix with other flowers. You can place the daffodils in a bucket of water for at least 12 hours on their own and then arrange them with other flowers, making sure you do not cut the stem again.
- Put flowers near ripening fruit – it releases tiny amounts of ethylene gas which prematurely ages flowers. Dying flowers do the same so always remove them from the vase.
- Place flowers in a draught which chills the flowers, or in bright sunlight which encourages bacteria to breed. Keep them away from over-warm central heating.
- Put copper coins, aspirin, lemonade, or bleach in the water. They're popular tricks but they don't work, and they can't feed your flowers adequately.
- Attempt to wash pollen stains - wrap some sellotape around you hand, sticky side out, and carefully dab it off.
- Mix cats and lillies. Lily pollen is extremely toxic to cats.