How to… condition flowers

Whether you’ve bought them from a market or your local shop, it’s so important to condition your flowers. As soon as a flower has been cut from its plant it is losing water and beginning to dry out. Follow these handy hints to condition your flowers to ensure they last as long as possible.

Get them in water ASAP

You will need:

Your flowers

A bucket, large bowl or sink

scissors, secateurs or a flower knife

A vase

A sachet of flower food


  1. Once you’ve bought your bunch of flowers try and get them in water as soon as possible. If you have other things to do e.g. put the rest of the shopping away, just plonk them in the sink for the time being and fill it so the ends of the stems are covered with water. Otherwise, half fill a bucket or large bowl with water and rest them in there.
  2. Once you are ready, pour water into your chosen vase and tip the sachet of flower food into it.
  3. Take out your flowers one by one and cut all the leaves off that will be below the water line in the vase. This serves two purposes: first, it looks tidier and second, it means the stem isn’t wasting energy on feeding these leaves so the water is flowing to the actual flower head and petals.

    Cut to a 45° angle
  4. Next, cut about 1 inch (1.5cm) off the bottom of the stem at about a 45 degree angle. This creates a larger surface area for the stem so it can reach more water. If you cut it flat it could rest at the bottom of the vase and only be able to pick up a little bit.
  5. Inspect your flower and carefully peel off any petals that look a bit bruised or leaves that are discoloured. Sometimes flowers, particularly roses, arrive with their “protective” petals still attached. This helps keep the rose fresh but they don’t often look very pretty and again, you don’t want the water wasting energy on the unwanted bits of the flower.
  6. Finally, arrange in your vase and trim shorter if necessary.


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