The only downside to cut flowers is the certainly that a week or so after you popped them into the vase, you’ll be throwing them out. So whether you fork out the cash or cut flowers from your own garden, the incentive is the same — making them last longer. Here’s how…

1. Start fresh: Just like fish, it’s best to get hold of the freshest possible. So when you’re shopping, look for half open buds and fresh green foliage. Avoid anything that looks limp or has brown tips. If you’re picking from your own garden, go out early in the morning with a bucket of water in one hand and a sharp pair of scissors or pruners in the other, and as you cut the stems pop them straight into the bucket. Then keep your bucket of flowers — bought or home picked – indoors in a cool spot for an hour or so before you start arranging them. This sounds pointless but it will add a few days to their longevity.

2. Pick wisely: When arranging flowers, what you choose to work with can add even more to their vase life span. Foliage hides its age well so think about the sort of color and texture it can add. Succulents make graphic focal points and they’ll last weeks — possibly even putting out roots, which means they can be planted out later. You can also buy or grow flowers, which make it easy to fill a vase and hold their own: hydrangea, bird of paradise, agapanthus, alstroemeria and kangaroo paw.

3. Housekeeping: It’s a boring fact, but good housekeeping will make your flowers last longer — a clean vase, clean water, clean cutting implements. Put a few drops of bleach in the water and wipe down your blades. It’s also worth finding out about any special needs or hacks. For example, if you grow hydrangeas and enjoy them often as cut flowers, then you’ll need to know that they exude a sap when first cut that can block the stems and stop the vase water from keeping the flower heads plump. The fix is to recut the stems once you’re indoors and hold the stem ends in freshly boiled water while counting to ten. Then arrange as usual in a clean vase filled with fresh cool water.

4. Living flowers: The other way to have fresh flowers for extended periods is to side step the cut flowers altogether and think of living, growing flowers. There’s always a range of potted color choice available and it’s easy enough to nestle a pot into a cachepot or wrap it in something funky. Pansies have sweet ‘faces’, petunias and marigolds are ideal in summer, and all these will live for weeks and should keep flowering if you remove spent blooms. For something longer living look for plants like the Gift Hydrangeas which will look lovely for months and then grow happily in either a larger container or planted out into the garden.


Eric Hurlock will hit the road in just about two weeks for Lancaster Farming’s first-ever cross-country tour of hemp farms and industry events. Read more