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The ultimate flower care guide: Top tips for making your flowers last longer

Flower care: top tips for making your Valentine's Day flowers last longer
(Image credit: ProFlowers)

Mother's Day is right around the corner, and with in-person gifting options off the table (unless you live together, of course) the best online flower delivery services will have you covered when it comes to making mom's day extra special. The one drawback of floral bouquets is that they eventually wither, but that's where our guide on how to care for flowers comes into play. If you're looking to keep flowers fresh for longer, we've covered all the handy tips and tricks you'll need to achieve just that. If you've ever wondered how to make your own plant food, or where is the best place to store flowers for a long life, just keep reading. 

1. Prepare for your flowers 

Every online bouquet will need sprucing up once it arrives, so it’s important to get them in water as soon as you can. You’ll need to pick a vase that is wide enough to fit all of your flowers without crushing any whilst still holding the bouquet together. To let the arrangement really shine make sure you have plenty of space between the top of the vase and the shortest flowers in your bouquet - this will help them all stand out. 

Once you’ve selected your vase, you’ll need to clean it with disinfectant soap. This is to ensure that any bacteria which may be clinging to the inside of the vase doesn’t come into contact with the flowers as this could make them wilt a lot quicker. Fill your vase just under halfway with water, making sure to leave enough room so this does not overflow when you add the flowers. Water should be lukewarm, as flowers find it easier to take this in. Be sure to add any plant food that comes with your delivery.

2. Choose where to keep your flowers 

Although windowsills offer a good ledge to hold your flowers, you might find that they die sooner when placed in direct sunlight where they will fade. A kitchen table or counter is a classic location for flowers, but they’ll also work on dressers and other spaces which are often cooler and less exposed to sunlight. Just make sure they’re not near radiators as they will wilt quicker in the heat. 

Obviously anywhere out of the sunshine will stunt the blooming of your flowers. Dark and shady spots will also cause some mould build-up in longer-lasting plants, so be careful of that.

Flower care: top tips for making your Mother's Day flowers last longer

(Image credit: Teleflora )

3. Unbox your flowers carefully

A big flower care tip: be careful when unboxing flowers. Some have sensitive stems (roses may have thorns), and it’s important to not disrupt the arrangement too much. Even some of the major sites, like Teleflora, can't guarantee safe delivery, so the way you open the box when flowers arrive is key. Many will come with rope or elastic around the stems. Don’t cut this off until you’ve inserted your arrangement into the vase, so they fall into the correct places. 

Your flower stems will need cutting once more to freshen them and enable your bouquet to take in water. Do this at an angle as this will maximise the surface area which will be able to absorb water. If possible, you should cut your stems whilst submerged in water. If you cut them as the stem is exposed to air, bubbles will be absorbed into the stem and limit its ability to take in plant food and liquids. Do this with a sharp object, as blunt scissors may crush the stems as opposed to re-opening them.

Water should be changed every two days, or when it begins to get cloudy. Be careful to also clean your vase each time you change the water so there’s no bacteria hanging around.

4. Rose care is a little different

Roses are a popular flower for any bouquet, with the language of flower meanings giving them connotations of romance and love. However, they can be tricky to care for. You might find that the outer petals of your roses start to wilt quite quickly, but simply removing these petals will reveal fresher ones underneath. These outer petals are sometimes known as guard petals, and removing them can allow your rose to flourish fully. If your roses start to droop, cut the stems again (making sure they’re submerged under water) and top up with a little plant food. 

Rose stems have leaves all the way down. If these are still attached when your bouquet arrives, carefully remove any leaves which fall below the water line before putting your roses in a vase. If submerged these may die quickly which will cause bacteria to enter your water much faster than usual. 

Also, did you know you can buy roses that last an entire year? They're expensive, but Venus et Fleur specializes in such things.

Flower care: top tips for making your Mother's Day flowers last longer

(Image credit: ProFlowers)

6. Lily care is also specialist

Lilies are a vibrant and eye-catching addition to any display. However, the pollen from these flowers stains like no other. If you want to avoid orange stains on rugs or clothes, snip off the stamen as your lilies bloom. They’ll still be just as beautiful. It's also worth noting that cats are highly allergic to all parts of lilies, so feline-lovers may want to keep them out of the way of pets.

7. Make your own plant food

Some of the big sites, like 1-800 Flowers, don't include their own plant food with deliveries. If you don’t have any plant food on hand, mixing together a bit of sugar (to feed your plant), warm water (to dissolve the sugar) and disinfectant such as vodka (to keep bacteria at bay) should make an appropriate substitute. Only use a little bit of this, around a large tablespoon should be enough. Alternatively, writers on the ProFlowers blog found that using a quarter cup of soda in your flower water is a surprisingly neat trick to keep them fresh (which is great if you don’t keep vodka in the house).