All of us must admit to it happening at least once. Upon receiving a gorgeous bouquet, we admire the vivid array of colors that greet our dancing eyes, inhale the intoxicating scents, and then, we manage to… well, forget. Within a few days our beautiful bouquet is reduced to a faded and drooping version of its former glory. Not everyone is born with a green thumb, but optimizing the life of your bouquet does not require professional knowledge.

First of all, upon receiving the bouquet, there are necessary steps that must be taken immediately to ensure a long life. Secondly, and of most importance to the plants, is water. Lastly, there are some general guidelines to keep in mind when taking care of flowers to ensure that they remain fresh. Following these suggestions will be the most generous way to say thank you. You will also be quite pleased with yourself, as seeing the bouquet now shows your contribution to its beauty and continued strength. Care starts the moment you receive your gift, as it is vital for the flower’s future health.

Receiving a bouquet and immediately caring for it shows the giver that you appreciate the gift, instead of simply putting it aside! The bouquet needs immediate care to set it on the path to a long life. The first twenty-four hours are very important! Immediately stick your bouquet (wrapping and all) into lukewarm water, and let the flowers sit there for about half an hour. This not only gives you time to get the shears, clear a space for cutting and pick out the right vase, but also to chit chat with your newly arrived guests.

After 30 minutes cut about an inch off the stems. Be sure to cut at an angle, as this gives more surface area to absorb water. Choose your cutting tool carefully! Strong shears are recommended, as using scissors that are not sharp enough might crush the stem, which is very unhealthy for the flower. Rip or cut the lower leaves off the plants, as leaves that are compacted underwater will begin to rot and breed bacteria. This will prove harmful to the flowers and will just plain smell bad! Now, be like Goldilocks and fill the vase with water that’s not too hot, not too cold, but just right. Flowers, like us, enjoy living in a comfortable temperature and environment. The most important element in this comfortable environment is plenty of fresh water. Water is a life force, and probably the single most important factor in keeping your bouquet alive for as long as possible.

When taking care of cut flowers, equate their situation to that of human beings. For instance, we change our bed sheets as often as possible. Water is the bed of cut flowers, and must be freshened up quite often – every other day is recommended. This will get rid of any bacteria growth that may have begun in the water.

When you are freshening up the water, take an extra minute to give the flowers a mini haircut; freshen up the flower stems by trimming a bit more off of the bottoms. A spritz of water on the flowers themselves provides a nice freshener. While not actually hydrating the flowers, some water droplets on the flowers will give them a nice shine, and keep dust off. Remember the value of fresh water to flowers. Following the last mix of advice will extend the life of your flowers an extra few days beyond normal care.

Also, feed your plants. Plant food is a bit tricky though, as you must be careful with the amount you add. Too little may promote bacterial growth and not help the flowers, while too much will be harmful for the flowers, thus, over saturating them. When you add the right amount the plant strengthens and kills bacteria that could be harming your flowers. For aesthetics, remove outer petals of flowers, such as roses, if they show signs of wilting or damage (a type of rose facial), getting rid of the dead outer layers of skin! Along the same lines, don’t let your flowers burn! Keep them out of direct, hot sunlight, and do keep them in airy, well-lit rooms. Keep your flowers away from electrical appliances such as televisions, as the radiation seems to dehydrate flowers.

Receiving a gift of flowers is a loving and living gift. When you receive flowers, you are receiving something alive that must be nurtured and cared for. In addition to their beauty and romantic aesthetics, flowers represent love because they need love and care. Not only is it a great compliment to the giver to know that you care enough to take time to extend the life of the gift, but also it will bring you more joy in seeing beautiful, vibrant flowers every day. For this, start the flower’s care from the moment you receive them. Remember the importance of water, and immediately submerge the stems in water. Keep the water fresh and the stems trimmed to optimize water reaching the flowers. Follow the additional tips to keep your flowers even healthier, such as feeding them plant food, and keeping flowers away from sources of heat and dryness. Keeping flowers healthy is therapeutic, because the work involved in keeping them alive is a pleasure, and the results are an even greater pleasure to behold.

by Flor London