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.
Ensure the flowers are well wrapped for protection and, if the flowers are to be kept out of water for some hours, ask the florist to cover the stem ends with damp paper, or even to "aquapack" them in their own water `pod'.
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. 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.
Follow the care and conditioning stages outlined below to prolong the life and beauty of the flowers.
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. Homemade formulas are messy, time-consuming and do more harm than good. Follow the care and conditioning tips for best results.
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