Longest Lasting Cut Flowers - Your Best Buys From the Florist

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Longest Lasting Cut flowers your best buys from the florist
Flowers can make any home look gorgeous but there is nothing sadder than spending your hard earned cash on a bouquet of flowers only to have them look like a wilty mess after a few days.

Why do some flowers seem to last so much longer than others and is there a secret potion that you can put in the vase to make them stay fresh?

Do you know if you are getting the best deals from florists or grocery stores when you get flowers and are there any special questions that you should be asking them?

There are tricks and secrets, some florist don't want you to know, but I'll tell you.
One of the biggest problems with people buying flowers that don't seem to last has got absolutely nothing to do with the flowers but is a problem with the vase that they are put into.

A good florist will always wash out the containers that they sell their flower in with a bit of bleach, this is to stop the growth of bacteria. Bacteria can live on for months in a dry vase so it is crucial that you clean your vases with soap and hot water and a few drops of bleach.

Don't put any flower arrangement near a source of heat as it will dry out the flowers. They really should not be in the heat of the sun all day either, it will considerably shorten their life span.

The longest lived flowers in your home are the ones that are the freshest from the flower shop or grocer. Unfortunately if you ask straight out how old the flowers are when you are buying them you are not likely to get a totally honest answer. They may reply that it was from the shipment that just came in or a shipment that just was unpacked. This might be true or it might not, florists are so tired of people asking them that question that generally they just try to side step it. 

You can tell yourself if the flowers are reasonably fresh by how perky they are. If there are any wilted flowers or any brown leaves then it is past its prime. The leaves on the flowers should be as crisp as a fresh lettuce. Look in the middle of the flower and see if it looks bright or faded. With some flowers you can very gently pinch them to see how firm they are, if they are very soft that means they are coming to the end of their lives. This is especially true with roses.

What are my favorite long lasting flowers as a former florist?

Chrysanthemum without a doubt are the longest lasting flower I have every used.  

Often called their shortened name Mums, many people just don't understand how many different varieties there are to this flower and only think of the daisy type or decorative type which many people use in their fall gardens.

They have been breed into so many different shapes, sizes and colors that I have always found there to be one I could use for any occasion. 

White Chrysanthemums
These flowers can last up to 20 days in a vase and that I think is value for the dollar. My personal favorite of these is the spider chrysanthemum (shown here in white) because I find the shape to be a little more on the wild side compared to the button shape or daisy shapes.

Mini carnations
Carnations are another under-valued flower that I adore. These also can last up to 20 days in a vase.

Like Mums they come in many different colors but generally only two different shaped, smooth edged or frilly edged. Their best quality is the array of colors you can buy them in. White, yellow, orange, pink, red, purple... it is almost limitless. 

Stripped Mini Carnations
These are not just solid colors as they come in stripped variations as well.

Carnation come in two sizes, the larger ones and mini carnations. Large carnations have 1 flower on 1 stalk while the mini carnations have several branches on 1 stalk with a flower on each branch.

Alstroemeria are a lovely delicate looking flower that can easily live up to 14 days in water. I can not say enough about these flowers and I had them in my wedding bouquet. 

They look very delicate so they make very pretty arrangements. Their colors range from white, pink, purples and yellows and they all have a stripping effect that can be very subtle or very distinct depending on the color.

Most people don't realize how long lived alstroemeria are because florist can keep them in their coolers for 10 days and they still look great but when you take them home at this point they will only live for maybe 4 more days.

It is vital to buy your Alstroemeria fresh and the only way to tell is to make sure that the leaves are very crisp and firm and that the blooms look very fresh. If there is any wilting at all then you might be looking at a week old flower.

Red Roses
Roses.......maybe. It depends on the type of rose but they can last 7 to 10 days. Roses from the garden probably last the longest as they are so fresh and you tend to cut the stems and then instantly pop them into water. 

Commercial roses can be tricky. Generally I have found that the larger the head of the rose the faster they die but not always. I now only buy Sweetheart Roses that are very tightly budded. I cut the stems in water (fill a sink full of water and carefully cut them under water)  and quickly put them in to a vase. Some Sweetheart Roses come on very long stems so as they open they tend to look like the more expensive varieties that have the larger heads. (I dealt with roses professionally for many years and I still had problems with them when I bought them for myself.)

So what are the other tricks of keeping them alive? Don't have your cut flowers out of water for a long time. Try to buy them and get them home as quickly as possible. 

Take more than an inch off the bottom when you are cutting them and cut them on an angle so they don't sit flat on the bottom of the vase and be unable to suck up water. 

There are many old wives tales of what you can add to the water to make the flowers last longs but I just prefer to use the flower preservative that comes with them, some of the other suggestions can actually kill them.

When you look for the freshest flowers that you can you will be able to quickly see the difference between them and ones that are obviously past their prime. Fresh flowers might still have their flowers tightly budded so the flower head won't be very large in the beginning but as they open their bloom they will expand.

how to wrap a bouquet of flowers
Once you discover a great place to buy fresh flowers you might also want to know  How to Wrap a Bouquet of Flowers like professional florists do. This is quick and easy to learn and will give any flowers that you give as a gift a polished presentation.

If you are careful when you buy these flowers and make sure that they are placed in a properly cleaned vase that you continue to fill with fresh water then you can look forward to enjoying them for almost 3 weeks.

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Copyright Ingrid Talpak 2011

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I enjoyed reading your expert comments on how to select fresh flowers and make them last longer in vases. Do you give classes by any chance. I'd be delighted to be your student.

Thank you for such a kind comment. I don't teach flower arranging but I will try to post an article on how to make a beautiful basic round table arrangement and hope that you will find that a good first start!

Very helpful, thank-you!
I think it is fair to mention that in many cultures, Chrysanthemums are a funeral flower and may not make an ideal gift.

As per your comment about florist trying to step around the age of the flowers question...I'm not sure what answer you think they should give,since you being the expert probably know that they don't exactly know,not having picked and cut the flowers themselves,they rely on the,supplier to them,the wholesaler who sold it to them,then down to the grower.
Some specialty items are shipped from out of state or country,people don't always want what the locals happen to grow.
The floral business is very difficult and not really the most high paying profession.
I find that artistic,creative people don't mind that,but they do want to make people happy and give as much information as reasonably possible.
Flowers are a living,unpredictable product,and as much as age is an important factor,so is as you mentioned( with the bleach thing) how containers are cleaned,sharpness of cutting implements,processing and care for the flowers are all important as well.

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