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flower power

From Habitat magazine - issue 08

Some more tips to keep your cut flowers looking good.

Flower power

  • Start by purchasing good quality, fresh flowers. If you’re picking flowers from your garden, try to do so in the cool of morning or after sunset. Select flowers in bud rather than fully open.

  • Remove all leaves that will appear below the water level, otherwise they will rot and pollute the water. Re-cut the stems on a diagonal using a sharp knife or scissors, and plunge them into fresh, cold water. Allow them to sit in the water for at least an hour before arranging. By cutting stems on a diagonal, you expose the maximum surface area to take up water.

  • When selecting flowers, work in odd numbers, for example, three, five or seven of each type of flower. If you cannot decide what combination of flowers to use, just purchase one type of flower in bulk. One item en masse is foolproof.

  • Certain flowers last longer in water than others – alstroemerias, lilies and tulips will look good for ages, whereas roses can go off quickly if not looked after, and irises don’t last long at all.

  • Like people, different flowers have their own particular quirks. Some, such as peonies and water lilies, close as night. Others, like tulips and anemones, will continue to grow after being picked and will need to have their stems trimmed every couple of days. And others, gerberas for instance, will turn to face the light.

  • Combining the vase with the flowers is very important. The colour, form and height of the vase will determine what flowers you can use in it.

  • Rather than dotting the different flowers evenly throughout the arrangement, group types together in bunches, two or three at a time.

  • Be aware that different colours create different effects. Blues are receding colours and consequently are not good at night. Reds and purples have a feeling of opulence, yellows are bright and cheerful while greens are restful.

  • A monochromatic colour scheme is very dramatic, yet soothing, as there’s not too much for the eye to take in.

  • Add different textures to the arrangement for more interest – rough, smooth, fluffy, shiny, twiggy and prickly. Rose hips, seed pods, fruit and gum nuts can also look good.

  • Keep the water topped up daily and change it every second day. Keep flowers out of direct sunlight and ensure the room is well ventilated, especially in summer, to prolong the life of the flowers.

words: Mary Searle
tips: Floral designers Megan Dickinson, Auckland, and Helen Hebberd, Nelson

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