International Flower Delivery Blog

Extending the lifespan of fresh-cut flowers: Part two. Mixed bouquets, delicate flowers, and exotic species

Part one of this article was more of an introductory course into the science of extending the life of flowers, as it dealt with rather endurant, low-maintenance species. Today, let’s delve deeper: for one thing, we will master the art of taking care of a mixed bouquet, and secondly, we will touch upon species that are more delicate, require complicated care, and tend to wilt instantly only because somebody gave them a dirty look, blurted out a nasty word or let them get in contact with some moonlight.

Taking care of a composite bouquet: the buttercup

Taking care of a mixed bouquet: basically pressing Ctrl-Z until it stops being mixed

Gardening requires lots of water — most of it in the form of perspiration.
Lou Erickson

So you’ve got a humongous mixed bouquet on your hands — how do you deal with it in order to enjoy it longer? The answer is simple: you take it apart! Laws of nature are a stubborn thing: every species of plant has its own distinguishing features and therefore requires an individual approach. A mixed bouquet doesn’t last precisely because it is mixed.

In bouquets like these, flowers are usually held together with floristic duct tape or similar tricky adhesives, so you need to be very careful as you take them apart, so as not to damage the fragile stems. As for any partly or completely withered blossoms, those you’d better scissor out right away: it will not hurt either the flowers themselves, or the shape and the harmony of the arrangement.

Now that the bouquet is taken apart, it’s time to look at each of the species separately and start applying that individual approach! In part one of the article, we already looked at some of the particular species and will continue that below, but first, let’s talk about temperature, which an important factor that applies to all of them.

In the cold season, an experienced florist will wrap a bouquet in several layers of paper before transporting it, so as not to have the fragile plants frostbitten. By extension, when you hand the flowers over to your loved one, you should mention that any bouquet must first be allowed to get used to the temperature of the room in order to be enjoyed longer. If a bouquet has just been brought from hard frost, no matter their impatience, they should give it at least an hour before unpacking to let it acclimate. Naturally, it’s also a bad idea to put the flowers close to a battery or a heating unit to make it happen faster. Conversely, a bouquet of roses that is freshly back from stewing in a stuffy train should not be immediately submerged in a bath with cold water — and ice, for good measure!

High maintenance incarnate

Let’s finally make this personal! And obviously, we’re going to start with the flower that immediately springs to mind when one hears the word “fastidious.”

The orchid: it does make a great first impression of being impossible to please; for example, it’s not a big fan of the cold, but neither does it thrive in the bright direct sunlight. When cut, orchids are usually each taken individually and then displayed in a miniature glass jar filled with a nutrient solution, sitting on a plastic leg. That’s really the limit of how complicated care for an orchid needs to be, but obviously that’s not something your recipient would want to deal with. Thankfully, these tricks with the glass jars are basically only for those who want to use them in a mixed flower arrangement.

Handling high-maintenance flowers: the orchid

Sometimes, you can buy the orchid as a whole branch, replete with blooms. Sadly, it’s virtually impossible to make use of a branch like that in a mixed bouquet — nor is it necessary, though, since arrangements made of a single flower species are in!

The domestic orchid, which is usually a phalaenopsis (plalaenopses in the plural), is normally purchased while it’s in bloom. Florists usually straighten and stretch out their stems before selling, as it looks nicer and causes fewer problems with transportation. When done blossoming, the plalaenopses and their fellow species just sit there in a pot for half a year, like a comically melancholy shrub.

Sometimes the owners of these exotic tropical flowers pour too much water on them in the hopes that it would make them bloom, which is most definitely not a good idea: in the wild, these beauties are perched on tree branches and enjoy rainwater, with the rains being abundant, but rare. So what you do is simply place the flower pots in water once a month, for an hour or so, or add a little bit of water once a week, making sure it covers the roots.

The anthurium: much like the gladiolus, it can often be seen in bouquets for men. In the wild, it lives on tree branches like the orchid, and has an intricate root system that goes all the way down to the nutrient-rich soil. It does love water, and is also very fragile, almost like the calla lily, but if you’ve managed to bring it home safe and sound, you get to admire it for about a couple of weeks. Curious, isn’t it: a flower that symbolizes masculinity turns out to be more capricious than the quivering maiden, the tea rose. As ever.

The buttercup, also called “ranunculus” if you want to be fancy, is a fastidious flower, and looks luxuriant like a tutu, which is how it managed to charm all the brides and the fashionistas several years ago, not willing to step down from the runway even today. It really couldn’t be fussier: the stalks must be snipped under running water, and water has to be regularly added to the vase — and very carefully, at that, so as not to damage the lacy touch-me-nots by accident. On top of that, a bouquet of buttercups abhors drafts and too much physical contact. You can see now, can’t you, why regular flower shops sell buttercups so rarely, and when they do, they put a hefty price on them. They do have a unique advantage, though: they continue to thrive and grow even when cut!

The calla lily: this incredibly beautiful flower is a native of marshy lands, so it is sensitive to high temperature and dry conditions, which is why you should make sure the vase is at least half-full with water. Also, like any flora from the swamp, calla lilies are extremely fragile, so do your best not to crush the stems, and generally, handle the bouquet as gently as possible. With enough water and their stalks and blooms undamaged, you will get to admire these beautiful flowers for a week or two.

Extending the life of exotic flowers: the calla lily

The mimosa: what many people commonly call “mimosa” is really the acacia, which belongs to the mimosoideae subfamily anyway and is actually a huge tree. If that’s news to you, it’s a good excuse to travel to, say, Montenegro and see the golden miracle in bloom for yourself, as well as enjoy its fragrance. That fragrance, by the way, is something that perfume makers have never been able to distill directly, so they’ve had to resort to synthetic alternatives.

So, bad news regarding the mimosa, or indeed the acacia. No matter what tricks the great minds employed, be it boiling them or scolding them with hot water, holding them over steam or wrapping them in damp gauze, — alas, even a sprig of mimosa that just sits there with no water will be wilting just as quickly as one dipped in fiercely boiling water. Which means that it’s totally up to you and your imagination to figure out how to prolong its life — what if you make a grand discovery? — but it is our advice to simply enjoy the moments you have with it, however fleeting they may be.

This is where we shall cut off both a few delicate flowers and our guide to handling them, but if you have any questions, be sure to write to us, and we’ll happily share our expert knowledge — why else did we go through the trouble of gaining it?

Onto something more substantial:
  • First of all, you are now able to give someone the exotic gift of a fresh orchid — and attach our article as a handy guide!
  • But if you suspect that your recipient would not feel like messing with flower pots or glass jars, better send a basket of flowers and fruit.
  • Or go with an impressive combination of flowers and champagne — who knows if it inspires them to experiment with flower care on their own!

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.