1. Seasonal British flowers are cheaper. They also last longer (having travelled less distance) and are more likely to be British. Roughly 90% of the flowers sold here have been flown in from around the world.
2. Chrysanthemums last longest. Every flower has a different lifespan (‘mums are 25-40 days), so it pays to ask the florist or check the care label before you buy.
3. Colour is the clue to freshness. If a bunch has pale or yellowy leaves rather than lush green, fully open flowers rather than buds, or if you spy any petals with brown edges, don't buy.
4. Every second counts once they're out of water. So, circle back to the flower display at the end of your shop rather than putting them in your trolley at the start.
5. Wilting flowers can be rescued.
Plunge stems that have been out of water too long into boiling water. Tender stems only need 10 seconds; woodier ones like roses will take more than 30 seconds. Longer stems will also need more time than shorter ones. Keep the flower heads away from the steam and don't overdo it or the stems will start to cook.
6. Cutting stems helps flowers drink. Avoid crushing stems at all costs (it impairs their ability to take up water), so use a very sharp knife or secateurs. Make a clean, slanting cut. Trim under water so flowers' first ‘gulp' is water, not air.
7. Woody stems need extra help. Make an additional, vertical, cut 2cm upwards from the tip of each stem. They're also happier arranged in hand-hot water.
8. Bacteria is your biggest enemy. Wage war, by scrubbing every vase clean before you use it and add a weak acid solution - try 1tsp bleach or 5tbsp white vinegar. Strip away any leaves that will sit below the water line. Change the water every other day, recutting the stems each time. Remove any dead or dying stems over time.
9. Flowers get hungry. Always add the little sachet that comes with shop-bought flowers - it contains sugar as antibacterial agents. Alternatively, pour in half a glass of lemonade (and not the sugar-free kind!).
10. Good arrangements are all about the vase. Measure the length of the longest stem in the arrangement; the longest stem should be approximately one and a half to two times the height of the vase.
11. Bouquets have three building blocks: A focal point (the main type of flower, which should be the largest); filler, which holds flowers in position (plants that are top-heavy with foliage but have bare stems are best); and finally, an accent - a smaller flower in a contrasting colour and texture.
12. Simple can be impactful. Getting the right mix of flower types and colours, plus the right filler, can be complicated. So, if in doubt, stick to a mix of flowers in different shades of one colour.
Have you tried faux flowers? There are so many realistic ones out there. See our video on the best way to display them.
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