Updated: Nov 23, 2020
Hello fellow flower nerds! It’s Mira and over the past few years working for florists and then starting my own florist business I’ve learned a few tricks of the trade that I want to share with you. Note that most of these tips are for flowers that haven’t been treated with chemicals to last longer (like the flowers you might get from Target or Walmart). You should also check back on this list every once in a while because I will be updating it as I learn!
First off, here’s the cheat sheet of tips. Read the rest of my post for more details and a few more tricks!
Don’t leave your flowers in the sunlight or somewhere that regularly gets warm (like next to an oven).
Change out the water every day to every other day.
Cut the stems every 3rd day. I usually do about ½ - 1 inch.
Flower food is a great way to extend your flower's life! I use a bulk solution called Floralife Crystal Clear because it's currently the best buy I can find but any flower food should work!
Always make sure your flowers have water.
Keep dried flowers away from direct light.
Hairspray is a great way to keep dried flowers from falling appart!
When drying flowers, keep them in a cool dry spot.
Make sure you clean your vase before using and change the water daily or at least every other day. Bacteria is a cut flower’s worst enemy! Also be wary of your flowers running out of water, even a little time out of water can drastically change their lifespan. An interesting side note; this actually matters less with flowers you get from most florist or chain stores since all of those flowers have been treated to be drought-tolerant for shipping. Farm grown flowers (like I provide) however, haven’t been treated and are more delicate.
Unless instructed otherwise, it’s also a good idea to cut the stems of your flowers every three days. This helps get rid of any blocked capillaries but beware! Some flowers (like daffodils) are poisonous to other flowers when cut and should not be put back into a vase within 24hrs of being cut. There’s actually a way to tell if the flower or greenery you just cut will be poisonous to other flowers! If it has a milky white or gelatinous sap then odds are it needs to sit alone for 24hrs after being cut before it's safe for other flowers.
Jar or Bucket Arrangement Tips
All of the above tips still apply the only thing I wouldn't do too often is cutting the stems. Since I make the arrangement to fit the container, the stems won't all be the same length and therefore rather difficult cut. If you want to change the water it's easy! Just grab the stems right above where they come out of the vase, change the water, then squeeze the stems together with your other hand to fit them back in. Depending on the size you might want someone to give you a hand!
Centerpiece or Pumpkin Tips
Check the water on both arrangement types daily. The centerpiece only has the floral foam and little plate to hold water and those flowers are thirsty! Other than pouring water with flower food onto the plate or over the flower foam, there's not much else you can do for this arragement without destroying it.
The pumpkin arrangement seems to vary in how much water is needed BUT its always a good idea to check the pumpkin daily for soft spots. Speaking of the pumpkin, don't do what I did and forget to check it and only realize it's gone mushy when I try to pick it up ... Because of this I now put it on a plate just in case and I recommend you do as well! Changing the water does help extend the life of the pumpkin although I would only replace the water if you have floral food since without it bacteria would run rampant and make a mooshy mess.
Dried (and Drying) Flowers
A commonly asked question is how to dry your flowers. I feel like I could make a whole class on this (and maybe I will one day) but the easy answer is this, take your flowers and hang them up somewhere! Well, there’s a biiit more to it than that but not much! The main thing you need to worry about when drying flowers is humidity. Ideally, you’d hang them upside down somewhere hot and dry like an attic or garage so the moisture in the flowers evaporates before bacteria get a chance to start their feast but a closet can work just as well. If you don’t have somewhere hot available for drying then you’ll need to make your bundles smaller; Otherwise, the stems in the middle might start to rot or mold before they get a chance at drying. Once the flowers are dry they’ll start to drop petals but I have a neat trick for you! Take some extra hold hair spray and give your dried blooms a good spritz to help them keep it together. There will still be some drippage, especially if you handle it a lot but that should help! If you buy dried flowers from me then I’ve already sprayed them so don’t worry, but make sure you keep any dried flowers out of direct sunlight if you want them to keep their color for longer!
Honestly, I don’t have many tips for wreaths! They’re basically bombproof but I have heard a few things I want to share that I found interesting and that you might to.
If your berries start disappearing then it’s probably the birds! They dry remarkably well and don’t tend to fall off unless they’re jostled so if you suddenly don’t see as much red blame your feathered friends.
Wreaths prefer it as cold as possible! I made a wreath last year in early November to test longevity and it lasted about a month before everything started to dry but one of my left over wreaths made later in December lasted more like a month and a half! The only difference was temperature which I thought was the coolest thing!
Some people say you should spritz your wreath with water to help them last longer. Now, I don’t know if this one is true because I haven’t tested it myself but it makes sense! When I make garlands for weddings, I put them in a plastic bag then stick my hand in some water and flick it all over the garland to make sure nothing starts to wilt before the big day. I also stick them in a cooler (going back to that last one) which helps keep them fresh. I will caution you if you have dried fruit in it though, they’ll start to go moldy if you get them wet constantly. If anyone tries this let me know your findings!
Did you know that many flowers I commonly use are edible? Bachelor Buttons, Chamomile, Roses, and of course herbs to name a few. I wouldn’t eat them though unless you’ve asked me if any flower food was used! Most commercial flower foods have a mix of sugar, acid and/or bleach and you never know what has made it into the flower itself. I've recently started using flower food nearly every week so, while I may tell you a flower is edible, ask first before taking a munch!
Let’s talk about the differences between flowers you might get seasonally from a farmer or local florist like me.
Spring cut flowers are very sensitive to warmth! This might seem obvious, but if you leave spring flowers in a warm car or in direct sunlight they are going to “blow open” which diminishes their life span. An interesting tip I learned from my grandmother is to put your flowers in the fridge at night to extend their life. She was able to get a spring bouquet to last nearly four weeks doing this! It makes perfect sense since I put the flowers in a cooler before I bring them to you but I hadn’t thought of it in that context! Be aware though that this trick only works for flowers that can handle the low temperatures of the fridge. Some summer and fall flowers like zinnias can’t handle it and will turn brown. Always ask your florist if you have any “special needs” flowers in your bouquet!
Out of all the flowers, ones grown in the summer tend to be the most resilient overall. Even if treated badly (left in the sun, somewhere warm or left without water for small periods of time) they will still last you at least a week. If treated well, I’ve had flowers like lisianthus last nearly three weeks! For greenery I love using herbs in my summer bouquets for their fragrance as well as long vase life. Fun note; if one of your herbs starts to put out roots while in a vase then you can plant it in your garden! See if you can get a root growth hormone from your local garden center for anyone who hasn’t transplanted cuttings before. Beware though, If you plant mint then make sure it’s contained in a pot because it is invasive!
Flowers and greenery in the fall are a bit of a tossup. You get some that are resilient like in summer, but then you get delicate ones just like spring. Dahlias are a great example of simply gorgeous flowers that usually last five days at best. On the other hand, you start seeing a lot of pods, grasses, and fruits that last forever! Recently I read an article saying that you can significantly increase the life of dahlias by putting them in commercial holding solutions (flower food) but I have yet to test this out for myself. I’ll update you this fall! Another trick I like is to take any longer-lasting flower or greenery from one bouquet and add it to a new bouquet. Just be aware that any bacteria from dirty water will stick to the stems and potentially shorten the life of any new flowers. Make sure you only combine clean flowers!