Caring for your Cut Flowers

Heat and Sunshine are the enemy of any cut flower.

While they bask in the glory of an English Summers Day, once cut, they can quickly go over, droop and wilt if left to dehydrate… is why

Transpiration, the moment you cut a flower it begins to lose water.

The moisture continues to travel up through the stem and out through the leaves.

To compensate for the loss of the water supply caused by cutting the stem, we place each cut flower stem immediately into a deep bucket of tepid – not ice cold water.

Heat accelerates this process. Whether it’s direct = Sunshine or indirect = Hot environment

Protect your blooms buy keeping them as cool and dark as possible until the event.

A cool garage, kitchen or bathroom is brilliant.

Conditioning your Flowers
A cool bathroom is ideal

This means they will be showing at their very best for your Wedding or Special Event and even into the following week for guests to spirit ways as a memento.


All cut flowers need to be ‘conditioned’ (to prevent wilting) before you use them.

If you order your flowers from us (DIY Flower Buckets) we uniquely do this step as part of the service.

This saves you an entire day and/or means the flowers may go direct to venue and into the arrangements without the need of storage.

Flowers from abroad are stored flat and need to be re-hydrated.

From the tales I’ve heard and what I have seen I have come to the conclusion that while some flowers cope with this better than others, no flowers really get over this…..Imagine if you were staved of food and water, then given a feast….how would you feel?

Here’s how we do it……

We cut first thing in the morning (or in the cool of the evening) when the plant cells are full of water – the steam will feel more solid and won’t flop.

We plunge the stems neck deep as we cut them straight into a bucket of water. Being this pernickety will make a huge difference to the vase life of your order.

Conditioning your Flowers
Conditioning your Flowers

A few flowers such as Anemones prefer to be just ankle deep in water.

Stems that bleed goo or a milky sap when cut we will allow to condition in their own buckets so as not to cause any harm to the other flowers. Typically a couple of hours is long enough for the stem to callus over.

Re-cutting the stem will cause the flower to bleed once more and another period of conditioning will be required. We allow the flowers to have a rest for a hours/overnight and strip the lower leaves.

No foliage should be allowed in the water – it will rot and turn the vase murky.

Some flowers need some extra care…….


Many cut flowers also benefit from searing especially if they begin to look a bit floppy. Searing involves placing the bottom 1-2 inches (2.5-5cm) of the cut steams in boiling water, this increases the surface area available for the flower to use to absorb water and results in a more turgid and upright stem.

Caring for Cut Flowers

We are very careful not to cook the stems or allow the steam near the foliage.

20 seconds is enough for the most delicate stems and a bit longer for tougher plants.

Burning the stem with a flame or using products such as Quick Dip will have the same effect.

This method also works well on shop bought arrangements……..

Vase Life

There are a few other things you can do to further extend the life of your arrangement.

Firstly make sure you use a sparkling clean vase, any bacteria will transfer to your flowers.

These extends to the buckets you use to collect your flowers!


Prepping the water will also helps. Florists and shop bought arrangements usually provide you with a sachet of flower food. You can buy this online or easily make your own:

You need acid to improve water flow in flower stems, sugar to help buds open and last longer, and something to reduce growth of bacteria and fungi. To make one litre of the solution use:sugar

  • one litre of water
  • one tablespoon of vinegar
  • one teaspoon of sugar
  • Three to five drops of household bleach

Don’t overdo the bleach, I did this and add the same volume as the vinegar, all the stems went white!!!!

Sugar will help your Sweetpeas so much, that you will enjoy a couple more days vase life

British Sweetpeas
British Sweetpeas

In a nutshell our tips for looking after your British Flowers are:

  1. Book to Collect Flowers as close to date required – the fresher the better and we will do all the conditioning for you!
  2. Keep flowers cool and dark – away from central heating and out of direct sunlight. The higher the temperature, the faster flowers will deteriorate.
  3. Choose flowers to suit the use – Buttonholes, Bridal Bouquets, Flower Arch – we trial and test all our flowers out of water and can advise on the blooms that are best suited for your needs!
  4. Flower food – Jam Jars can be unforgiving so a touch of flower food can keep that water crystal clear and beautiful throughout the day….make your own above.
  5. Seasonal flowers – Don’t be tempted to choose your flowers without considering the seasons, like vegetables, out of season peas will never quite live up to the pinterest of our dreams….but a flower in season (whenever that is….blows your mind!)
  6. Practice – If you are all set on doing your own flowers, we suggest a practice bucket a month (or more) out………….we can give you advice but the process of creating your bouquets and buttonholes in advance can save a thousand headaches. Floral designers come with years of experience, don’t underestimate their skill. A trial gives you a chance to make the mistakes, coincide it with a birthday, create a scented memorable day of bonding with your best friends.
  7. Book in advance – we are ridiculously oversubscribed, the sooner you tell us about your wedding the more we can do to grow the flowers of your dreams.
  8. We are here to help – nothing gives us more joy than an happy ending.
  9. Top up your Vases – My biggest tip to all DIY Flower arrangers is to top up your vases!! Flowers drink an incredible amount of water and once you have made your floral creations it might not occur to you that overnight thirsty blooms have drunk the vase dry! The first you will notice is your floral masterpiece inexplicably wilting!
  10. Finally keep your flowers away from bananas!! Just like fruit flowers also suffer from exposure to ethylene.

Swan Cottage Flowers, Seasonal Flowers near Milton Keynes on the Buckinghamshire, Bedfordshire border Contact us

British Flowers, David Austin Roses, from lightest to darkest the pinks Gentle Hermione, Queen of Sweden and Gertrude Jekyll, all are blooming on repeat despite the weather and complemented most beautifully with Sweetpea Mollie Rilestone
David Austin Roses, from lightest to darkest the pinks Gentle Hermione, Queen of Sweden and Gertrude Jekyll, all are blooming on repeat despite the weather and complemented most beautifully with Sweetpea Mollie Rilestone

British Flowers Week is just around the corner! Join in the celebration and support your local Flower Farm!

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