Caring For Your Flowers

Flower Guru
flower care tips

Our goal at Lily's Florist is to make this the most definitive, the most detailed, and the most highly regarded flower guide there is, that will give your flowers a better chance of surviving for the longest possible time.

As flower experts we do have a responsibility, in part, to help to ensure that your flowers last, but you also have a responsibility to help them last as well.

In this guide, we are going to give you a plethora of tips on what to do when you receive flowers, then we're going to give you a whole bunch of tips on how to maintain them to get the maximum vase life out of your flowers. Lastly, we will offer you a short Q & A that will answer some of the most common questions we get.

We are going to start with what to do with flowers once you get them home from work for example, on the assumption that you have received them as a bunch. Then we will discuss how to care for flowers if you receive them in an arrangement. How to care for flowers in a bunch is far more critical which is why we will spend the most time on it.

Originally published on 02.03.23 and republished on 25.5.24 with some updated imagery, a little bit of content and an instructional video on how to cut flowers stems.

Caring For Flowers In A Bunch

The vast majority of flowers that we sell, and most other florists around Australia sell, are bought in a bunch. Typically, flowers are bought from the markets early in the morning, they are then taken by our delivery driver to the store. From that point they are generally put into the fridge or cool room as soon as possible thereby giving the flowers the best chance to survive before they head to you.

Caring For Flowers In A Bunch

Once we get an order for a bunch of flowers they are taken out of the cool room and worked on in store. The flowers are put together based on what the order is for, and what the occasion is about, and then they are carefully arranged based on flower type, then they are carefully wrapped in wrapping paper. They're then put it back into the cool room and will wait for the delivery driver to pick them up, then deliver them to you, your loved ones, or friends. The moment they leave the delivery van is the most critical time in the extended life of your flowers.

It’s Seems Simple But Water Is Critical

Although it may seem obvious you wouldn't believe how often it's actually neglected and that is that your flowers need water, and they need water as soon as you possibly can.

Adding flowers to a cup, vase, or container is the simplest and shortest way to extend the life of the flowers you have received. That said there are some things you need to know that are extremely important. Whether you are receiving flowers at home or at work getting them into any type of container as soon as you can is extremely important.

Receiving Flowers At Work

In around 30% of occasions people receive flowers in the workplace. Although it may be a little awkward but when you do receive flowers at work it's really important to get them into any sort of container, you probably won't have a vase, so adding the flowers to as large a glass as you are able to find. If you are only able to find small glasses we advise carefully unwrapping the flowers from the paper and then adding them to two smaller glasses then filling the glass approximately half full with water. 

Receiving Flowers At Work

When you have finished work for the day take the time to carefully take both set of flowers out of both glasses gently put them back together and wrap them again. That said the best way is to leave them as they are when they delivered so finding the perfect glass is ideal. Refer to the below paragraph on what to do when you get your flowers home.

Receiving Flowers At Home

Obviously, a large portion of our flowers are delivered to home addresses, receiving flowers at home funnily enough, gives the best chance to your flowers in lasting considerably longer. Please follow the below instructions on how to care for your beautiful flowers.

flower care tips
Back To Watering…

water flowers care

We mentioned briefly above about watering the flowers and we would like to talk more about that now as it's not as simple as nearly filling up a vase to the top and hoping for the best.

The first thing to consider when adding water to your vase with flowers in them is what type of water to use. Of course, you can use any water but the best advice we have is to use filtered water. Filtered water has far less chlorine in it therefore your flowers will technically last longer with filtered water.

In almost all cases you should only add enough water to the vase or container to cover the bottom 5 to 10 centimetres of the bottom of the flower stems.

You should change the water every two days and while doing so you should always rinse the vase or container that you use to store the flowers and wash it with warm soapy water to kill any bacteria or nasties that may have entered the water.

You should never ever use hot or warm water, you should never use cold water to add to your flower vase, you should always try and use room temperature water that is somewhere between 18 and 22 degrees. We will talk about those temperatures in more detail later in this article.

Keeping your vase clean and keeping your flowers watered is one of the simplest and most effective way to give your flowers the best chance of surviving and allowing them to look the best also.

How to cut your flower stems

There are many ways you can cut the flower stems but we're going to go over two of the simplest ways to do it and that is using either scissors or a knife.

When you change the water for the first time, on the second day after receiving your flowers, you should also spend some time cutting the bottom of the stems of the flowers. The reason why we ask you to do this is that after a 2 day period living in water the flowers tend to build up some bacteria in the bottom of the stems, this bacteria has a habit of attacking the water veins that provide nutrients and water to the flower buds that have yet to bloom and the existing flower petals.

How to cut your flower stems

When it's time to change the water you really should spend some time cutting the flower stems. It's easy and doesn't require too much work but, as we've mentioned above, it can dramatically help the longevity of your flowers. To do this simply and easily just take the flowers carefully out of them vase and lay them flat on your chopping board in your kitchen, please ensure that your chopping board is very clean, and it's advised that you wash it thoroughly with hot soapy water before attempting to cut the stems. Doing this will ensure that there no cross contamination with food that may have been prepared on it.

Lay the flowers down flat on the chopping board and arrange them so that all the stems are of equal length. Then you can get your scissors and cut approximately 2 centimetres from the bottom of the stem, also please ensure that when you are cutting the stems to make the cut at a 45-degree angle and to be super careful that you don't harm yourself.

Once you have cut the flowers, and you have rinsed and cleaned the vase with soapy hot water, add more water to the vase and return the flowers as carefully as you can.

If you choose to use a knife to cut the flowers follow the same instructions as above however it's advised that you tie the flowers together with a piece of string so that when you are cutting them you can make a clean cut. This also helps to keep the stems from moving around too much as they do they may be damaged. In this case the damage is normally caused to the veins that run up to the flower petals that carry the water.

Whether you are using scissors or a sharp knife please avoid in anyway disturbing the stems too much, which includes piercing them in any sort of way because as mentioned above the stems carry the water to the blooms. If these are damaged the flowers will die prematurely.

Your flowers need food, and by food we mean that in most cases when you receive flowers you will get a little package around about the size of a matchbox. The package contains food for your flowers which will also help to extend their vase life full stop in this little satchel is contained a mixture of various flower saving chemicals also a substance that is sugar like. You should add roughly a half a teaspoon of this flower food to the flowers when you first put them in the vase and then every other time you add water to the vase.

If you do not receive a small packet of flower food there are a number of other things in the home that you could add to the water that will simulate the flower food. The two most obvious ones are sugar from the pantry, or even some Sprite, lemonade, or 7 Up. If you choose to use sugar you can add approximately half a teaspoon to the water every time you change it. If you are using any type of sweet fizzy drink you can also add half a teaspoon every time you change the water. Like us, or our kids, flowers love sweet drinks!

Keep The Flowers Cool

And often overlooked way to maintain healthy flowers is simply having them on display in a cool place. The optimum temperature for flowers to survive is roughly between 19 and 23 degrees Celsius or then in a room with an average of 24 degrees, which is generally known as room temperature.

To maintain this average temperature, you should have avoid having your flowers displayed on mantelpieces or tables next to windows. The real problem with storing flowers in these places is that, unless they face south, they are most likely going to be affected by direct sunlight. If they are stored near a window getting direct sunlight the sunlight will be magnified by the glass. This concentration of direct sunlight will kill your flowers far quicker than if they are displayed in a shady position in your home.

Displaying Your Flowers

displaying cut flowers

You should give careful consideration to where you store or show your flowers. We are now going to share with you some helpful tips on where to display your flowers.

Do not display your flowers on your TV as your TV gives off a large amount of radiated heat that will generally accelerate the blooming process, therefore unnecessarily putting stress on your flowers.

Do not display your flowers near your ceiling fan or any type of air conditioning vent or outlet. This will both dehydrate the flowers and also evaporate the water in a vase far quicker than needs to be. and again will inhibit the life of your flowers.

Do not display your flowers anywhere near your home's fruit bowl or any fresh food that is lying about the house. This is a little-known fact but storing flowers near fresh food has a detrimental effect on your flowers. The reason for this is that your flowers are constantly breathing and absorbing materials in the air and fresh food expels chemicals which are absorbed by the flowers and can stifle their blooming process.

And The Totally Random

Above we listed the more traditional ways to store your flowers, and how to display your flowers. Now we are going to tell you a little more of a new age approach to care for your flowers. Below we're going to list a few more funky ways to take care of those beautiful blossoms.

Hairspray - One of the more unlikely ways of getting more out of your flowers and preserving them is to get out your favourite hairspray, yes you heard it right your favourite hairspray. Hairspray has an uncanny way of preserving flower petals. So what we advise is to stand around half a metre away from your flowers and give them a small quick blast with the hair spray can. When you do this however you must aim the hairspray can at the bottom of the pedals and or leaves.

Brown petals - To give the remaining flowers a fighting chance of surviving longer, every morning when you get out of bed take a look at your flowers and gently pick off any of the petals that have started to turn brown or have died. Doing this will literally take you no more than 20 seconds a day and will help incredibly in the life of flowers. Doing this also focuses more energy and nutrients towards the flowers that most need it.

Caring For Your Flowers - totally random things

And then there was vinegar -  It may sound like an old wives’ tale but if you add a teaspoon of apple cider vinegar combined with a teaspoon of sugar to your vase water when you change it every 2 days it will increase the life of your flowers.

Your favourite vodka - Do you have a bottle of your favourite vodka lying about the house? If that is the case then pull it out because a few small drops of vodka combined with half a teaspoon of sugar will help clear the water and also work at killing bacteria that is built up in the vase too, again giving extra life to your flowers. Don't worry you'll flowers won't have a hangover the next day!

Panadol capsules - It may seem rather unlikely but a Panadol every two days can also go a long way to making your freshly cut flowers last longer. It's advised that you use one Panadol capsule, and added to your water every two days when you change it. Like the vodka, Panadol has an uncanny way of killing unwanted bacteria which is one of the major causes of the degradation of the flowers.

Bleach - really?  Yes, you read it right, and it's definitely not a ‘typo’, bleach is an awesome way of retaining the integrity of your flowers and helping them to survive longer. It's as simple as adding around about an eighth of a teaspoon of bleach to your vase water every time you change it. Just like the Panadol, bleach can help to eliminate harmful bacteria that your flowers don't particularly like.

Flower Care FAQs

  • If I don't have a vase, what can I use to store my flowers in?

    If you don't have a vase, you could easily find a container in your home that could simulate a vase. Whatever you choose to use, please ensure that the inside of the container is not painted and will not leach paint or colour when you add the flowers and water. You could also use a glass or several glasses to distribute your flowers to different areas around the home.

  • Can I display my flowers outside?

    While you can technically keep them outside, the major problem with this is the varying temperatures during the day and night, especially during Spring and Autumn. We strongly advise keeping your flowers indoors at all times.

  • When I'm cutting the stems, should I keep a balance of flowers in water?

    That is a really good question, and the answer is an emphatic 'yes'. You should definitely trim the stems of your flowers a few at a time. The ones that you aren't trimming at the time should remain in the vase or in some place that contains water. Even just a few minutes out of the water is enough to accelerate the aging process of your flowers.

  • When is the best time of the day to cut my flower stems?

    This is actually a pretty valid question, and the answer is that you should either cut them late in the evening or early in the morning and get them back into the water as soon as possible. This will help lengthen the bloom time of your flowers. If you cut them in the middle of the day when it's really hot, the veins of water running up the stems will dehydrate far quicker.

  • What should I do about some brown leaves that are touching the vase water?

    For a start, you should never have the vase water high enough that it's touching the leaves of the flowers. However, if you do notice that some of the leaves, particularly the green filler leaves, are touching the water and have turned brown, you must remove them as soon as possible. The material released from the browning leaves can infect the water, which in turn can be absorbed by the flower stems, inhibiting the life of your vase flowers.

If you have any questions about how to make your flowers last longer that you have not found in this article please feel free to call us at any time and we would be more than happy to help you. Failing that you could send us an email or jump onto live chat at any time. Would be more than happy to help you out. Our goal is to get lovely flowers to your loved ones and friends but also to assist you in helping them last longer.

For a more flower care tips, but looking at more specific flowers, click here.


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