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Gardening expert shares simple 5p trick to make Mother's Day flowers last longer

With Mother’s Day just a few days away, many shoppers will be flocking to supermarkets and florists to purchase flowers as a token of their appreciation.  

A bouquet is one of the most popular gifts to receive on Mother’s Day but cut flowers unfortunately don’t last long. Without proper care, flowers can start wilting within just a few days.  

Fortunately, there are ways to ensure flowers last for a week or even longer – and it all comes down to preventing conditions that allow bacteria to flourish, according to one gardening expert. 

Julian de Bosdari, CEO of UK plant nursery Ashridge, has compiled his top tips to prolong the lifespan of your flowers and keep them looking healthy for as long as possible. 


Choose a long-lasting variety 

For those buying a cut bouquet this Mother’s Day, one of the easiest ways to ensure the longevity of your flowers is to opt for a naturally long-lasting variety.  

Chrysanthemums, carnations and orchids are more durable varieties that can survive for several weeks and enable your loved one to enjoy their bouquet for longer. 

On the other hand, more delicate varieties, such as tulips and peonies, have a vase life of around five days, and are likely to wilt much more quickly. 

Always start with a clean vase 

The very first thing you should do with your bouquet is make sure you have a clean vase to place them in. Vases with narrow openings are typically harder to clean and are prone to trapping bacteria, which can contaminate the water and cause flowers to age and decompose quicker, so aim to use a vase with a wide opening if possible. 


Try to avoid using a plastic vase, as the porous material is more likely to harbour bacteria. Glass and ceramic vases make for better options, as they are not only easier to clean, but will also elevate the look of your bouquet. 


Trim flower stems at an angle 


Cut flower bouquets have their stems pre-cut but they are likely to have closed up by the time you purchase them. 


Therefore, it’s important to trim half an inch off each stem at a 45-degree angle using a clean knife or pair of sharp scissors, before setting your flowers in a vase. 


Cutting the stems diagonally maximises the surface area for water absorption, allowing your flowers to stay more hydrated. Make sure to trim the stems of your flowers every couple of days to allow flowers the best chance of absorbing water. 


Remove foliage below the water line 


Any leaves or petals submerged in vase water should be removed as they can promote bacterial growth. Bacteria can clog the stems, which obstructs water absorption and shortens the lifespan of your flowers. 


You can keep any healthy foliage that is above the water line, to preserve your bouquet and make it look as full as possible. 


Keep flowers out of sunlight and away from fruit 


Flowers should be kept away from direct sunlight and heat sources as these can cause wilting. Direct sun and heat also prompt buds to bloom quicker, shortening the bouquet’s lifespan.  


It’s best to place your flowers in a cooler environment with plenty of indirect light rather than directly within the sun’s rays or near a radiator. 


Make sure to also keep flowers away from the fruit bowl, as ripening fruit such as bananas and apples produce an odourless gas called ethylene, which causes flowers to age and drop petals more quickly. 


Change the vase water regularly 


Make sure the water in your vase is clean and change it often to remove any bacteria. This should be done every two days, but you can also do it daily, especially for more delicate varieties.  


If the vase water is visibly cloudy or has debris in it, this is a sign that it needs replacing with fresh water.  


Use nourishing flower food 


You often get a small sachet of liquid flower food with your bouquet, so make sure to add this to the water, when you first put them in a vase. To extend the bouquet’s shelf life, aim to add additional flower food each time that you replace the water. 


If you can’t get your hands on proper flower food, don’t fret. You can make a homemade solution by adding two tablespoons of sugar and two tablespoons of white vinegar to one litre of lukewarm water. 


If you pick up a pack of granulated sugar (£1.09) and distilled white vinegar (35p) from Tesco, you can make this flower food mixture for just 5p each time you replace the vase water. 


The sugar provides energy to nourish the flowers, while the white vinegar lowers the water’s pH, which improves water absorption and helps to remove bacteria from the water due to its antimicrobial properties. 


Check on your flowers often and handle them with care 


Regularly check up on your flowers and remove any wilting petals. This not only makes your bouquet look healthier but also prevents the spread of bacteria in the vase water.  


Cutting off wilting foliage also gives new buds space to bloom, resulting in a flourishing bouquet that’s even bigger and more beautiful. 


Though some flower varieties are highly durable, it’s a good idea to be gentle when handling your bouquet. Avoid crushing or squeezing the stems as this can cut off water uptake to the plant.  


Petals are particularly delicate – treat them with care to prevent any damage and keep them looking their best. 


Julian de Bosdari, CEO of Ashridge says, 

“Flowers are one of the most beloved Mother’s Day gifts, and it’s disappointing that they don’t last longer than they do.  


“However, putting in the effort to take special care of cut flowers will both allow shoppers to get the best value for money and recipients to enjoy their gift for as long as they possibly can. 


“Keeping your bouquet clean, hydrated, nourished and out of the sun will go a long way in maintaining it, and eliminating nasty bacteria from its environment can help prevent the flowers deteriorating prematurely. 


“Remember, you can always press or dry your flowers once they’ve reached the end of their lifespan to preserve their beauty and hold onto the significance behind them.  


“If you are put off by the fleeting nature of cut flowers, a houseplant or garden flowers can be an equally beautiful alternative that your loved one will be able to enjoy for many years.” 


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