Thursday, 12 January 2012


I think I mentioned some time back and I would like to have flowers in the house more often.  People have brought flowers with them when they visited at Thanksgiving and Christmas and so I've had this pleasure with little effort on my part.   The last of Helen & Martin's bouquet have gone now though and, with the dull greyness of winter, I'm starting to miss the colour and the lift of spirits that beautiful flowers provide.  I did find a blogger in Wales, I think, who was aiming to keep cut or wild flowers in her house each month...but I've lost her again.

Mike & Christine brought these at Thanksgiving and they
seemed to last forever.

I did some reading on the internet about what cut flowers last the longest and ended up with some ideas,  also with a list of tips and techniques for making flowers last longer.  My reading sources suggested that the best lasting flowers were orchids, but I can't see these as 'cut'; surely this refers to the plants?  I know I can buy orchid plants for £8-10 each at the supermarket and they are said to live  almost indefinitely. 

The next longest lasting flowers are chrysanthemums, carnations and gladioli.  Again, I have to wonder if this refers to a chrysanthemum plant, but perhaps it doesn't.  I think glads are very dramatic, but they annoy me in the garden when they can't stand up by themselves.    I know people look down on carnations, but I love them and their scent.

The next group of most reliable cut flowers are pretty exciting:  peonies, roses and lilies.  Unfortunately peonies are out of season.  I think of roses as pretty expensive but I've not priced them or lilies lately.  Might be worth looking at.  Also in this group are 'flowering branches', but nothing specified.  I might know one when I saw it.

Gerbera daisies (not your plain white, but what I would have taken as zinnias - same family) and tropical flowers like heliconia are the next longest lasting.  Finally, iris are best left growing as they don't survive well as cut flowers.  This is disappointing, as they are some of my favourites, but I may have to experiment sometime with bulbs in an indoor pot.

The advice I found about techniques for making flowers last longer was legion.  Some of it I knew:
  • Remove any leaves that will be below the water line, as they decay and add bacteria to the water.
  • Keep cut flowers out of direct sun, preferably in cool conditions, after all flowers keep their flowers in a refrigerator.
  • Trim the bottoms of the stems, cutting at an angle to provide more cut surface through which water can be absorbed.
  • Change the water often, cleaning the vase as well, to prevent growth of bacteria.
  • Use the flower freshening sachet that usually comes with purchased cut flowers, else substitute sugar or aspirin.
Other advice I'd not encountered before:

  • Don't mix daffodils with other flowers, they are toxic.
  • Leaves also absorb water that is travelling up the stem toward the flower, so remove most but not all the leaves.
  • Condition flowers (remove leaves, trim stems and place in clean water) at least one hour (up to overnight) before arranging.  I tend to count conditioned flowers as sufficiently arranged, myself.
  • If there are white bits at the bottom of the stem, cut up to the green part (this may only apply to tulips).
  • Tulips and apparently roses like ice cubes in their water.
  • One person claimed that flowers prefer bottled still water to tap.  I'm not likely to follow this advice.
  • Also, best to trim cut flowers while held under water.
  • The shorter the stem, the longer the flower will last, as the water has less distance to travel.  I would need new ideas about containers for this.  It may have been an untested hypothesis.
Other additives recommended besides sugar and aspirin to keep flowers fresher were:  caffeine containing drinks (with food colour to hide the discoloured water (more advice I'm not likely to try), Sprite (presumably because of the sugar), Panadol (?), a penny (for droopy tulips), bleach (but not for colourful flowers) and vodka!

Writing this all the sudden reminded me of Sarah's Christmas present, a white amaryllis that needed planting, so I've done that.  I'm 'only' four days past the deadline and it was out in the cool back porch, so hopefully it will work out OK! 

I also know that if things stay the in the same place long enough, I stop seeing them, so moving flowers or plants around more would help me get the most benefit from them.  

Do cut flowers - or house plants - figure very high in your priorities?


metscan said...

First, I have to confess, that I am not a flower fan at all.
I don´t like houseplants, I dislike exotic plants.
I have one bowl on the dining room table which needs something, and a lot of it.
I prefer native flowers to fill it, like heather, which will last long ( almost forever ) as it dries.
But the dilemma is, that I don´t like dried flowers either.
So, as a compromise, I fill the vase with the long-lasting chrysanthemums every now and then, junipers at xmas time and at times Baby´s Breath.
Btw, there are cut orchids, and they do last for a long time.
But orchids in Finland - too exotic.

BigLittleWolf said...

I adore cut fresh flowers in the house. I used to buy them weekly, relatively inexpensively. And a week was about the time they lasted (mums and daisies lasting well).

I buy them less often now (budget), but I've had excellent luck with grocery store orchid (plants) in the past, as well as amaryllis. They sometimes last a surprising amount of time!

I admit, I'm longing for even three stems of lilies. Relatively inexpensive. And the fragrance?


Anna at the Doll House said...

At this time of the year, branches of Holly will happily live in a vase for quite a long time. This year, mine has not produced any berries, but I simply mix-in a few tulips which need replacing about once a week but the holly also looks lovely on its own.