It is your wedding and you planning has been excellent, your execution sublime and pardon the pun, but everything looks rosey. Your wedding flowers are ordered and available and will be delivered shortly. Fortunately wedding flowers are fairly robust and really do not require a lot of attention and fundamentally you will be guaranteed a more than appropriate longevity, right?
Wrong. Possibly completely and wholeheartedly and organically wrong and there is a chance that your flowers will be very much dead, before you even walk down the aisle, if you have not maximized the chances of achieving full flower longevity. If you want to handle freshly cut wedding flowers like a pro you had better be thinking and acting like a pro. The alternative is that no focus and appropriate attention equates to flowers that will simply wilt and die, almost progressively in front of your eyes.
On the list of worst possibly nightmares for a bride, possibly only second to either the priest or groom absconding at the last minute, is wedding flowers that refuse to cooperate and decide that going to flower heaven before the actual wedding might be an option. Clearly this is not an option that would delight a bride.
So how do you get the best out of your wedding floral displays, for as long as possible? Here are a few tips…
Selection: When you are buying your flowers, be sure to scrutinize your specimens carefully. Specifically what you need to focus on are the following:
- Try and ensure most of your flowers are in bud and that the buds are reasonably firm. Flowers in bud last longer.
- Ensure that the stems are not fractured, damaged, slimy or discolored.
- Check that the foliage isn’t wilted or showing signs of mold growth. Discard any specimens where the leaves are turning yellow in color.
- If your flowers are scented ensure the specimens exhibit a strong fragrance.
Container and water: Before using your vase, ensure it is properly sterilized. Preferably manually clean the vase using a mild disinfectant or hot soapy water, and thereafter wash thoroughly with hot water. Once dry, add sterilized water that has been boiled and cooled, to the vase. Add a commercial floral preservative and food mixture or make your own.
To make your own add 2 tablespoons of bleach, 2 tablespoons of vinegar (or lemon juice) and 4 tablespoons of sugar for each gallon of water The bleach will deactivate the bacteria, the vinegar, which is actually acetic acid, a mild acid, will control the pH and the sugar will act as a source of glucose to the flower, which the flower will absorb through the stem and use as a carbohydrate source for energy.
Add room temperature water to the vase. Add as much water as you can without overfilling the vase (fill it about 2/3 the way up, add your wedding flowers, and then top off the water in the vase to within an inch of the top. The deeper the water the better).
Adding the flowers: for a wedding floral display using a vase the rule of thumb is that the flowers should be one and a half times the height of the vase. You need to be mindful of this when deciding on the stem lengths of your flowers (longer the stems the better). When you cut your flowers if you have any influence try and ensure the flowers are cut as early as possible in the morning.
Cut the stems at an obtuse angle of about 45 degrees to achieve maximum exposure which allows the stems to absorb as much water as possible. Cut the stems under running water (which ensures you avoid air from entering and blocking the flow of water to the blooms)using a sharp pair of pruning shears or a floral knife. Avoid using a blunt blade, which can damage and crush the stem thereby impeding the vital flow of water to the flower head. Remove any leaves that are below the water line. Any decaying organic matter will contaminate the water and shorten the flower longevity.
Every 24 hours replace the sterilized water and flower food and preservative and recut the stems at an angle under running water.
Searing the flower stems: The longevity of some wedding flowers, especially hollow-stemmed flowers,can be further extended by searing the stem of the flowers. Once you have finished trimming the stems place the end of the stem in boiling water for about 25 to 30 seconds, alternatively hold the cut end of the stem in an open flame for a few seconds, and thereafter place the freshly seared stem in luke warm water with a floral preservative added. You might want to consider having a paper tissue handy to clean any spillage of sap.
Storage: Most flowers should be stored in a room with cool ambient temperature (although not less than 40º F). Avoid direct sunlight, heat from heating vents, warm drafts from household or industrial appliances or fireplaces or cold drafts from air conditioners.If your wedding flowers are ethylene sensitive you need to keep the flowers separate from ripening fruit or vegetables, exhaust fumes and smoke of all kind, including cigarette smoke.
As your flowers age separate older flowers from fresh flowers and obviously remove any dead or dying specimens as soon as possible.
Generally well preserved and well managed cut flowers will last you anything from 7 to 10 days, and even longer in certain instances, depending also on the type of flower. Most importantly a well preserved wedding flowers simply optimizes your wedding flower presentation, and ultimately contributes excellent value on your very special day.