Flowers which travel

If you are cutting flowers which will be going on a journey, first put damp tissues or cotton wool around the stems, then newspaper and, finally, aluminium foil. This should ensure that they keep as fresh as possible.

Most flowers which have wilted in their travels can be revived if you recut the stems diagonally, place them up to their necks in a bucket of warm water to which sugar has been added (two teaspoons to one pint) and then leave them in a cool dark place for a couple of hours. Remember that all flowers, even if they travel no further than across the lawn, benefit from a long, undisturbed drink before being arranged.

Particular preferences

Certain flowers will last appreciably longer if you cater to their individual needs. Below are listed some tried and tested hints on how to deal with them.

Begonia and other hot-house plant leaves which are going to be used in an arrangement, should first be submerged for a few hours in water to which a spoonful of sugar has been added.

If you cut Broom when it is in flower, put the stems into very hot water for half a minute before arranging it.

Touch Camellia and Gardenia flowers only rarely, they bruise very easily.

Break Carnation stems between the joints if possible.

Put the ends of Dahlia stems in boiling water for 10 seconds. Avoid picking the larger blooms as they do not live long in water.

Delphiniums will last longer if you dip the tips of their stems in boiling water for 10 seconds, but even so the lower florets will probably still drop.

Delphiniums and Lupins benefit if their hollow stems are filled with water after they are cut, then plugged with cotton wool and left overnight in deep water.

Freesia lasts fairly well if the individual flower-heads are removed as soon as they die.

Cut Hydrangea on the new wood. Before arranging it place the stem ends in boiling water for a few seconds and then soak the flower-heads. Hydrangea absorbs water through the flower-head. Spray the flowers frequently to give a longer life in the vase.

Iris stems contain a lot of water which evaporates and causes the flower to droop. When gathered, each head should be wrapped in soft paper, and the flowers placed in deep water. Leave them in a cool place for an hour or more. This treatment hardens the stems and gives the flowers a longer life.

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