How to prepare flowers • woody stems

I adore having fresh flowers in the house.

I try and make them last as long as possible to get the maximum enjoyment out of them!

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And I always get so frustrated when I see people posting pictures of beautiful bouquets on Facebook and Twitter still in their paper wrapping or just plonked in a vase. The reason being they would last twice as long if you spent a little time preparing them.

Don't you just hate slimy stems and stinky water?!

Follow these simple steps and you will have beautiful blooms for longer.

How to prepare flowers

These tips are for woody stemmed flowers, which at this time of year seem so appropriate. Winter greens and hardier flowers. For most other types of flowers just skip the step where you cut up into the stem.

Step 1 • Condition

It might seem like a hassle or a waste of time, but giving your flowers a proper drink when you get them home will work wonders.

Take them out of their wrapping and remove any elastic bands.

Take a knife and cut the bottom of the stems at a slant and cut up into the stem. Do not be tempted to twist and snap the ends off. 

How to cut flowers

Snip off any excess foliage.

Place them in a clean bucket (or large vase if you don't have a bucket handy) filled approximately a quarter full of luke warm water. Add a packet of flower food.

How to prepare flowers

Leave for 4 hours of overnight is best.

Step 2 • Cutting 

Post conditioning repeat the cutting process. 

Step 3 • Arrange

Remove all foliage below the water line. If you don't it will encourage bacteria to grow and that leads to the dreaded slimy stems.

Ensure you don't over crowd your stems. A full arrangement looks wonderful, but they all need room to breathe! 

You can add a teaspoon of liquid bleach or neat alcohol to help keep bacteria at bay.

I always arrange from the centre. I start with my middle stem and work around it, building the arrangement up in concentric circles.

That way, when you look at an arrangement straight on, you should be able to see every bloom.

I like to get as many arrangements as possible from one bunch. So I will use lots of little vases or bottles, as well as one larger but more sparse arrangement for the centre of the dining table or middle of the sideboard.

Pink flower
How to prepare flowers

Who is hoping to get some flowers next Friday?! 

Once Rich sent me an enormous bouquet of long stemmed roses to my office. I was so overwhelmed I almost cried! That was before we were married, last year he bought me red wellingtons instead. And I love them just as much!