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Flower Care

Rose Care

  1. While holding the stems under water in a sink or under running water, cut about one inch off each stem with a sharp knife or shears. Remove any leaves that may be under water when roses are placed into the vase. Do not let the newly cut end dry off before placement in the vase.
  2. Water to which a good floral preservative has been added is the best solution in which to arrange fresh cut roses. Using it as recommended will provide additional days of vase life. Avoid using water from a water softener. If no floral preservative is available the following can be used; 1 can of 7up or sprite to 1 litre of water, 1 tablespoon of sugar added to water or a splash of hydrogen peroxide.
  3. Immediately after the stems are cut, place your roses in a deep vase of warm preservative solution (about 100 degrees F). If possible leave them in a cool dark room or refrigerator to 'condition' for 2 or 3 hours after arranging.
  4. If a florist's porous foam material is used in assembling the arrangement, it is important that it is thoroughly saturated in advance in water containing a floral preservative. Be sure that the rose stems are inserted firmly well below the solution level in the container. Do not move the stem ends after inserting them into the foam. This may leave an air pocket at the base of the stem.
  5. Display your fresh cut rose arrangements in a cool area out of direct sunlight and drafts.
  6. Roses are thirsty flowers. It is important to check to see that the vase is full and add preservative solution often. Be sure foam materials are completely saturated and the container is full daily.
  7. Any lilies received should have the pollen stamens removed as they open. This will enhance the life of the lily and prevent any staining from the pollen.


Premature wilting is not a sign that the rose is old. It usually indicates that air is entrapped in the stem and the preservative solution cannot flow properly up the stem.

The end of the stem may be blocked, or look for a cut or scrape in the bark above the water level. Recut the stem above the injured section and then submerge the entire rose in a basin or shallow pan of warm water (about 100 degrees F). Be sure to keep the stem and head straight. It will usually revive within an hour and can be replaced in the arrangement.

Flower Care

Certain varieties of cut flowers last longer than others. Carnations, can remain vibrant for long periods. Roses have a shorter vase life, but are prized for their special and delicate beauty. Flowers, like humans, respond best to a little tender loving care. No, you don't have to hug them, but a few basic guidelines will ensure your flowers maintain their perkiness for longer.

Essential for your flowers

Keep them in a cool spot (65 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit), away from direct sunlight, heating or cooling vents, direct drafts from a ceiling fans, and the tops of televisions or radiators. (Appliances like televisions give off heat, causing flowers to dehydrate.)

Flowers in water

Keep the vase filled with water containing floral food provided by your florist. Be sure to follow the directions on the package. Cut flowers, whether it's a presentation bouquet or a hand tied, need to have the stems re-cut before you put them in the vase to make sure their vascular cells are wide open to take up water.

Never ever bash stems this is a real old wives tale and is actually the kiss of death to most flowers. All bashing achieves is the mangling of aforesaid vascular cells into such a state they haven't a hope in heck's chance of taking up water. Always cut the stems at a sharp angle using a knife if possible, or very sharp scissors.

Place the flowers immediately in clean water, mixed with the flower food, or they'll dry out and you've defeated the object of cutting. Make sure there are no leaves sitting below the water line, as not only will they rot and release harmful bacteria, which kills flowers, but they'll consume vast amounts of the nutrients in the flower food which need to get up the stem to the flower head.

To maintain the look of your flowers, repeat the process three or four days later, removing any wilting or dead flower heads so that the water supply is sent to the flowers still blooming or, in the case of multi-headed varieties, still to open.

If the solution becomes cloudy, replace it entirely. If possible, recut the stems by removing one to two inches with a sharp knife. Remove leaves that will be below the waterline. Leaves in water will promote bacterial growth that can harm the flowers.

Flowers in wet foam

Keep the floral foam soaked in water containing floral food provided by your florist. Be sure to follow the directions on the package.

Floral Food

Floral food is a combination of additives that help to nourish the flowers and discourage bacteria from growing in the water. It is one of the best-and easiest-ways to extend the life of your flowers. It is very important to follow the directions on the package correctly. Improperly mixed floral food can do more harm than good. If the flower food solution becomes cloudy, replace it entirely. If possible, recut stems by removing one to two inches with a sharp knife.

Individual needs:    Depending on the type of design you receive there are specific guidelines.

Presentation bouquets

Made with a collection of loose flowers, this will give you the chance to arrange the flowers in two or three vases depending on the size of the bouquet. Cut and condition the flowers as above and make sure you use clean vases; residue from previous bouquets will cause infection and reduce the life of your new flowers.

Hand Tied

As these are arranged for you and tied together, the first rule is not to cut the binding string. It doesn't harm the flowers and it means the bouquet will stay looking gorgeous. If it's been delivered aqua packed i.e. there's a bubble of water around the stems hold the bouquet over a sink and cut the bottom off the film. This way the water will pour down the sink not over you.


If you receive an arrangement, it will have been made in a water retaining foam. This will need topping up every couple of days. Simply dribble water into the centre of the design or at the back where a good florist will have made a small nick into the foam.


Tulips actually keep growing in the vase, which is why they elongate and curve. It's their style rather than a sign of poor quality. Again lasting time should be around a week. If they grow too unwieldy, simply cut the stems to suit the vase.


Whether it's a standard Carnation … now available in the most funky of colours or spray carnation which look great in a mixed coloured bunch with foliage, these flowers will go for at least two weeks and need very little care. However, like most flowers, carnations are sensitive to ethylene emitted by fruits, so try to keep them away from the fruit bowl.


Another long lasting flower…two to three weeks easy. Available in some divine colours like the amazing lime green Shamrock or stunning burnt russet Tom Pearce, Chrysanthemum are now one of the 'in' flowers. Remove any drooping or damaged buds to make sure the rest of the head keeps its freshness.


Otherwise known as Transvaal Daisies. Like the tulip, they are curvy flowers and should be allowed to go with the flow. Some florists will gently wire them to give greater stability … this doesn't affect their vase life which should be around 7 - 10 days.


A really delicate flower that will probably only last a week; but has an amazing smell which improves as the air gets warmer. What you lose in life span, you more than make up for in sheer gorgeousness.


Lilione of the most spectacular flowers around and available in a choice of shapes. Asiatics are the most common, while Orientals have a stylish angular look. Longiflorum are extremely elegant and Calla are one of the most hi-style on the market. Orientals and Asiatics will last the longest. A top grade multi-headed Casablanca can last up to three weeks with buds opening on a regular basis... Expensive but worth it.


A relatively new flower, but one which has already made it into the top 10 selling flowers. Available in a range of colours such as white, pink, purple and some lovely bi-colours like white with a purple edging. Lisianthus or Eustoma will last around 7 - 10 days. Like any multi-headed flower you need to remove old heads to give the new buds a chance to open.


The first hint of spring. A vase of these will add instant light to any room. However they ooze a latex slime, so you shouldn't mix them with other flowers unless you've got one of the special flower foods (or stand them in water for 12 hours or so and don't cut them again.)

Plant Care

Primary factors affecting plants and flowers growing are sunlight, water, humidity and fertilizer. To care for indoor gardens you need to check what sort of plants have been used. In most cases a good florist will have mixed and matched so that a simple top-up every three/four days is sufficient. However if there are cyclamen or succulents in the design make sure you water below the crown (the leaves), as otherwise the plant will rot. Plants need a regular spray as well. They absorb moisture through their leaves so lightly mist once a week, especially if you have a centrally heated home.

Blooming Plants

Mum plants, kalanchoe, cyclamen, begonia, violets and others that generate a bloom for the use of the color at certain times of the year. These plants should be kept moist but not sitting in a container of water. Standing water would prevent the soil from allowing air transfer to occur between the roots and the air. Most of these plants like a bright light and no direct sun which may cause sunburn of the leaves.

African Violets

Like a moderately bright light but no exposure to direct sun. Water when the soil feels dry to the touch and provide good drainage. Cold water on the foliage may cause leaf spotting. Drain excess water from the plant saucer to prevent root rot and to protect furniture. Violets prefer a 70-72 degree daytime temperature and 65-70 degrees at night. Fertilize with Violet food following the manufacturer's directions.


Prefer diffused light and in Florida may be planted outside under a shade tree, as direct sun will burn the foliage and provide an entrance for disease entry. Uniformly moist soil but not having water sitting in the drainage container. Azaleas prefer a cooler temperature for the best growth. Placing them in a cooler area for the night will help in keeping the blooms on the plant longer. Improperly mixed floral food can do more harm than good. If the flower food solution becomes cloudy, replace it entirely. If possible, recut stems by removing one to two inches with a sharp knife.


Mostly are grown for their brightly colored blooms and unique foliage. Again, they prefer a bright diffused light and moist but not wet soil. Moderate temperatures in most homes will be sufficient to the growth of gloxinias, but no temperatures below 50 degrees. Fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer following the manufacturer's directions. Old blooms should be removed from the plant to help the development of new blooms.

Peace Lily

Good plant for a low light area and will still provide you with blooms on a regular basis. Soil should be moist but not soggy since this would promote root rot and poor aeration. Moderate household temperatures and a fertilizing schedule following manufacturer's directions from general green plant fertilizer. Peace Lily will also benefit from the addition of organic matter to their soil.


Bright diffused light near a sunny window, but not in direct sunlight. Moderately moist soil but not standing in water. Temperatures should be in the low 70 degree range in the day and in the upper 60's at night. Fertilize with an all-purpose fertilizer following the manufacturer's directions. Trimming of the growing ends of the plants will help to maintain a compact growth on the plants.

Dish Gardens or Planters

These usually consist of a combination of low light level plants that have similar growing conditions. This may vary depending on the varieties of plants used but most will be able to tolerate low light levels and like to be moist but not standing in water. Watering may prove to be a bit tricky since most planters are not equipped with a drainage hole in the bottom of the container. This will require you to be more watchful on the water and how the soil is drying out to the touch. A lot of planters are sent with fresh flowers in water tubes that will require filling and after the blooms have faded need to be removed from the container.

Green Foliage

Plants Dracaena, corn plants, rubber plants, ficus, pothos, philodendron and many more, all benefit from having bright indirect light and no direct sun. A moderate amount of moisture that will require having water when the soil feels dry to the touch. Provide good drainage as the plant sitting in water will promote root rot and poor aeration. Fertilize with a green plant fertilizer following the manufacturer's directions


Like moist soil and bright indirect light; In Victorian times they were placed in the bath and the parlor. Ferns do not like to sit in water and require good drainage for proper growth. Temperatures in most homes are sufficient for the growth of ferns but the addition of a tray filled with pebbles and water on which the fern sits will boost the moisture around the plant and provide a better growing area.

Care of Orchids

The most widely available orchids and the best for the home is the phalaenopsis or moth orchid. These plants will grow easily under the same conditions enjoyed by African violets.

Watering Schedule?

Allow the plants to approach dryness, gauged by pot weight or by the pencil trick (the point of a sharpened lead pencil will darken with moisture if the plant has enough water), and apply enough water that it runs freely through the pot. Never allow any potted plant to "sit in its own water"; Flowering plants may require more frequent watering to make up for the greater burden of the flowers. Plants will require less water when not in active growth (generally winter months), and more while growing (generally spring and summer months.) Increased frequency of watering will not make up for a poor root system. If roots are not plump and alive, repotting may be called for (see later), or the plant may have been recently repotted by the vendor, in which case it will require raised humidity to compensate for the lack of supporting root uptake. Last, plants will thinner, softer foliage will generally require more water than those with harder, more succulent leaves. Plants with pseudobulbs (as dendrobiums and cattleyas) generally like to dry out more between watering than will those without (as phalaenopsis.)


When Blooming all flowering plants need extra feed. Your plants will need to be fertilized with a product appropriate to the media in which they are grown. In general, plants in a bark-based mix will need a fertilizer high in nitrogen ( usually in a 3 - 1 - 1 ratio), while a balanced food will do for all others (usually a 1 - 1 - 1 ratio.) If in doubt, feed with the same balanced fertilizer you use for your other container plants. Orchids will do far better with too little fertilizer than with too much. The old adage, "feed weakly, weekly"; is very appropriate. Feed every week with a dilute solution. It is far easier to remember than "Did I feed last week, or not?"


When fresh rooting activity is expected (generally in the spring) or is very evident, generally every one or two years. Fresh rooting activity is best shown by the nice green root tips on plump white roots. Often, the main "flush"; of rooting will come from the base of the plant (in the case of phalaenopsis), or from the developing newest growth (in the case of dendrobiums and other orchids with pseudobulbs.) Orchid plants need repotting for one or a combination of two main factors: Potting mix breakdown, often evidenced by dead roots; or plant over-growing the pot, growing over the edge. In the first case, a larger pot may not be required, simply replacement of the growing media. In the second case, the plant may require dividing or may simply be shifted into a larger pot. Fresh media should always be used. A good general rule of thumb is to pot for the bottom of the plant, the root system, and not for the top, the foliage. Freshly repotted plants should be placed in a shady, humid area until continued new root growth is observed. In general, if in doubt, pot in the spring.

Potting material?

Orchids, in general, will grow satisfactorily in many different potting mixes if watering and fertilizing are adjusted appropriately. That is, if the basic requirements for moisture, root aeration and support are accommodated, the most readily available media in your particular area is probably the one that has proven to work the best. Orchids are grown today commercially in a variety of media, from straight fir bark, to sphagnum moss, to the increasingly popular peat-based mixes best exemplified by Pro-mix. Watering frequency is generally inversely proportional to the porosity of the media used; in other words, the faster the mix drains, the more often you'll have to water. Complicating the answer is the knowledge that many, if not all, of the most often seen potted flowering orchid plants in garden centers and other sales venues have been potted into larger containers in fresh media almost immediately prior to shipping. This is for very practical reasons: the container and fresh mix look more attractive to consumers, and the plant can be grown in the smallest possible pot until the last minute, keeping bench space fully utilized. Such plants need to be carefully watered with the increased water needs of the flower spike balanced against the lower potential uptake of the disturbed root system.

Where do I cut the flower spike when it is finished?

In most cases, cut at the base of the spike with a sharp, clean tool. Of all of the more commonly available orchids, only phalaenopsis -- the moth orchid -- will rebloom from its old spike. When most orchids have finished blooming, the spike should be cut off with a sharp and clean blade as close to the base of the spike as is practical. Phalaenopsis will generally rebloom given a little extra care. The spike should be cut between the scar where the first flower was and the last node on the stem. One of the lower nodes will then initiate and generally produce flowers within eight to 12 weeks. Younger or weaker plants may not rebloom. It is also a good idea to cut the spike off entirely by midsummer to allow the plant to grow for next year's bloom.

Orchid's leaves are wrinkled and leathery

Lack of water or dehydration. The next step is to determine why the plant is not getting sufficient water. First, look to the roots. If the roots appear healthy, white or green and plump, and medium is in good shape, suspect under watering, especially if the roots are white and the pot is very light. If, on the other hand, the roots are in poor condition, suspect root loss. If the plant has no roots, it cannot take up any water, no matter how much you give it. In this case, the cause may be root loss owing to overwatering or medium deterioration, or a recently repotted and poorly established plant. The immediate solution is to raise humidity in the plants' vicinity to reduce stress on whatever roots there may be, and then deal with whether to repot or to simply wait until the plant establishes in the fresh medium.

Grow orchids out-of-doors?

In some areas, you can grow outdoors. Especially if you live in a frost-free or nearly frost-free area, there are a wide variety of orchids that will grow very happily with light shade out-of-doors year round. Where winters are cold, orchids can be grown on the patio or under trees in the warmer months when frost does not threaten. This if often a wonderful solution for orchid growers in colder climates, and enables the plants to grow so much better than they would if left indoors all year. Growers in frost-free areas and cooler summer nights (below 60 in August and after) can grow cymbidiums, one of the finest of all garden orchids. Where summer nights are warmer, many varieties of vandas and cattleya types are appropriate.

Poinsettia Care

Do you each Christmas buy a Poinsettia only to watch it die over the year, or, at most, have it live but never bloom again?

Daily care:

Water only when soil is completely dry (or close to it). A constantly moist soil will cause roots to rot and the plant will die. If you under-water, the leaves will begin to wilt, then water right away! Poinsettias are usually forgiving and will bounce back quickly.

Never let it stay out in temperatures below 65 deg F (I don't know the exact temperature, but Poinsettias will die if it gets too cold).

Give it as much sun as you can (except as noted below for Fall)

Monthly care:

Give liquid fertilizer as recommended for house plants. Pinch off dead leaves, branches, etc.

Spring (around May 5):

Pinch back all branches, leaving only 4 to 6 inches of the branches. This is also the best time to transplant. If you bought this plant this winter, you should transplant. The pots they sell it in are usually too small for the root system of the plant. I recommend using the same potting soil that is recommended for tomatoes.

Once you are *POSITIVE* that nights will not fall below 65 deg F), you can leave it outside in full sunlight. Do not place near parts of buildings where water will runoff and fall on the plant.


Bring inside once before nights get cold (below 65 deg F).

Bloom for Christmas:

The reason poinsettias don't bloom the next season is because the plant doesn't think it is Fall. The plant must have around 6 weeks of days with less than 12 hours of light before it will start blooming (thus think it is Fall). Typical indoor lighting is enough for the plant to be tricked to think it is still daylight.

Therefore, you must place the plant in a room with absolutely NO light for around 14 hrs per day. What I typically do is when I get home from work at around 5pm, place it into a dark closet. And, before I leave for work in the morning at around 7:30am, place it back into a sunny window. You should start this process sometime in between mid September and October 1. I recommend mid September so it will be blooming for Thanksgiving.

Once the plant has good coverage of blooms (not just some red leaves), you can stop placing it in the dark for the season.