Flowers are very much a part of modern living. No self-respecting makeover show would be complete without those 5 minutes at the end when the makeover genius puts a few vases of flowers here and there and magically ‘dresses’ the room.
Some flowers last longer than others, for instance alstroemeria, cosmos, lilies, lavatera, aster, sunflower, yarrow and zinnia. Flowers with hollow stems, on the other hand, have the shortest vase life. But there are still ways to make them last longer.
Keep flowers out of direct sunlight, which can scorch petals and causes bacteria to breed, and away from heat and draughts, which chill them. Do not sit the vase too near the television. Apart from the obvious fact that water and electricity are a lethal combination, the heat from the television will cause the flowers to wilt.
Keep flowers away from pets and small children. Do not put the vase near bowls of fruit. Fruit gives off ethylene gas, which ripens fruit but ages flowers. Dead flowers give off the same gas, so remove dead or dying blooms daily.
Top up the water level daily too or, even better, if the arrangement is not too elaborate, replace the water completely. This seems to make all the difference with roses. Flowers like a damp atmosphere, so mist the arrangement daily.
The easiest way to remove the dead bunch of flowers from the vase is, leaving the vase in situ, to invert a large plastic rubbish bag right over the whole bunch. Hold the vase in one hand, gather the plastic in the other and grasp the bouquet by its stem, lifting it out inside the bag. This saves trailing dead leaves, petals and seed heads through the house.