Flowers make a lovely and thoughtful gift for many occasions. Even with the best flower care however, they can soon wilt and die. There’s nothing more depressing than flowers that are well past their sell-by date and that are over in a flash. Some people get quite superstitious and see dead flowers in the home as a very negative portent.
As well as maximising your care of cut flowers to prolong their life, you can make some smart decisions about what types and species you buy. Here are our top five recommendations for the most long lasting blooms. They also work well in combination with each other and can make for some bold, dramatic and contemporary floral arrangements.
Heliconias – this tropical plant, found in South America and the Pacific islands, is reminiscent of rainforests and gardens full of hummingbirds. These are specimens typically found in botanical gardens and greenhouses, but are wonderful as cut plants. The fleshy flowers, typically looking more like deep red leaves, can survive as long as a month when properly looked after. Great varieties include Heliconia wagneriana and Heliconia pendula. The petals are strong and not the delicate little things we may be more used to.
Strelitzia – commonly known as birds of paradise flowers, these are becoming increasingly popular with florists. Striking and tall, their flowers do truly resemble a bird or large butterfly. An evergreen perennial, they come from South Africa but can also grow across Mediterranean climes. In deep yellows, purples and oranges, they create a real focal point and are popular with both men and women. As a cut flower, they will also last as much as a month.
Orchids – they may be shy and rare, but they’re also strong and hardy as cut plants. Rather more delicate than the exuberant helconia and strelitzia, they are expensive but worth it. With an incredible variety – some 25,000 species – they mainly range in colour from whites, through pinks to purple. Some are deep reds, yellows or oranges, some variegated.
Carnations – from the most expensive and rare, to amongst the cheapest and most widely available! Carnations are incredibly popular and can be dyed to almost any colour imaginable. They also fit in well with many other blooms, so are great for bouquets and arrangements, with tulips, roses and hyacinths, for example. This simple flower can last up to three weeks with proper care, kept out of direct sunlight and away from draughts or heat.
Hibiscus – back to the tropics again, where Hibiscus grow huge, showy flowers. Like their tropical and subtropical cousins, these showstoppers can last for over a month. In delicate or bright shades, from white through the red spectrum, with even some varieties that are almost blue. They have very long and distinctive stigma and anthers to carry lots of pollen. They conjure up images of Tahitian beauties and Hawaiian gardens, but are found as far afield as India, China and Malaysia – where the hibiscus in the national flower.
So, cut flowers needn’t be a flash in the pan, here today but gone tomorrow. Follow flower care instructions carefully and they can give many weeks of pleasure. Ensure all foliage below the water line is removed, cut the stem on a diagonal and use a good flower food. Use warm water to encourage buds to open up, but cold water if you want them to last longer. Always change the water and cut flower food every couple of days and your flowers will keep on blooming, making a more lasting, enjoyable gift.