Flower, Plant & Candle Care
Cut flower care –it’s easy when you know how!
Choose a suitable container for the height and type of flowers. This seems obvious, but is one of the main reasons flowers do not thrive due to a lack of support and insufficient water. Make sure the container is spotlessly clean and fill almost to the top with cool fresh water and add the flower food. Flower food helps feed the flowers and keeps the water free of bacteria, but you don’t need to use it.
Strip all the leaves from the bottom half to two-thirds of each stem so that no foliage will be below the water level, this prevents decay which will contaminate the water and reduce the life of the flowers.
Re-cut all stems to the required length, at a sharp angle with sharp scissors or secateurs, this increases the cut surface area and helps with water and nutrient take-up. It also means that the stem base does not lie flat on the vase bottom, unable to take up water.
Some flowers are prone to bending, for example, tulips and stocks. To help straighten the stems, wrap the bunch in paper and stand them in deep water for several hours. Or just let them go their wild way!
Some flowers are prone to drooping, for example poppy and hellebores. Dipping the bottom 2.5cm of the stems into hot water (just off the boil) for 20-30 seconds may help. Drooping roses can sometimes be revived in the same way, re-cut their stems first.
Some flowers, such as daffodils and euphorbia release a milky sap which other flowers do not like. If you intend mixing them in a vase, cut them to the required length and place them on their own in cool water for 4-6 hours. Remove, do not re-cut the stems (this will release the sap again) and use in the mixed arrangement.
Do not hammer the base of woody stems as is sometimes suggested as this increases the chance of bacterial infection.
Check the water level frequently and top up as necessary, at least daily.
Every 2 or 3 days, re-cut the flowers, clean the vase and change the water, removing any flowers which are past their best.
Always place the flowers in a cool position away from direct sunlight, radiators and fires.
If you are trying to get stubborn flowers to open for a special event (lilies and peonies for example can take ages to open!) then re-cut the stems and place them in warm/tepid water, repeat every few hours and hopefully they’ll bloom just in time for everyone arriving.
This is a very general guide to get you started. Different types of plants have very different needs and if you want to widen your knowledge there are loads of excellent books out there on plant care. We stock a few, so have a look in our online shop if you’re inspired to become a bit of an expert!
Succulents & Cacti
- Happy at room temperature, can tolerate heat but prefer not to get cold
- As much natural light as possible
- Water from the base and mist occasionally
Tip : Allow soil to dry out between watering
- Prefer a warm room, ideally 20°c and above
- Bright natural light, but keep out of direct sunlight
- Water from the base. Do not allow plant to sit in water, drain well after watering.
Tip : When flowers die back, keep the leaves healthy and it will flower again.
- Happy at room temperature, don’t like it below 10°c
- Prefer shade, but do need natural light
- Regular watering required, keep the soil moist. Likes humid air, mist regularly.
Tip : Brown frond (leaf) tips indicate it needs watered more often. Remove broken and brown tips from the base.
- Average room temp
- Prefers bright light and a sunny spot
- Regular watering and feed whilst flowering
Tip : nip out/dead-head wilting flowers to encourage new flowers.
String of hearts and pearls
- Average room temp (min 8°c)
- Filtered light, not direct
- Keep moist but not wet, waterlogged soil will kill them.
Tip : Grows well on a bathroom shelf or windowsill.
- Average room temp
- Good light, not direct. Variegated plants require brighter light
- Keep moist but not wet. Likes humid air, mist regularly
Tip: Regularly clean leaves gently with a damp cloth, helps the plants thrive
General care tips
- Warning signs you are over-watering – Flowers turn mouldy. Leaves curl, yellow and wilt. Young leaves fall first.
- Warning signs you are under-watering – Flowers fall and fade quickly. Leaves are limp and wilted. Leaf tips turn brown and crisp.
- Watering from base – Fill a sink, bowl or basin with 5cms- 8cms of water, dpending on the size of the plant. For mini succulents and cacti a small plate may be big enough. Place the plant in the water for an hour or so and allow it to soak up the water. Remove for the water and allow the plant to drain for 5 minutes before returning to its pot.
- Pot size – Plants in smaller pots dry out faster than plants in larger ones.
- Feeding – Once a plant has flowered a few times or you’ve had it for over a year it will have used up all the nutrients available from the soil in its pot. At this point you may consider feeding with a liquid flower feed or repotting your plant into a bigger pot with new, nutrient rich compost.
- Plant placement – This is trial and error. If a plant looks unhealthy although all its watering requirements are met, try moving it to a warmer or cooler room or try placing in a window with a different aspect. Grouping plants together increases humidity.
- Pots with no drainage – Terrariums and ceramic pots are popular, where the plants are potted directly into the main vessel. Although a layer of stones will be in the base to help prevent the soil becoming water-logged it is very important to water these arrangements sparingly and only when the top layer of soil feels dry to the touch. Misting may be enough rather than watering.
Candle Care- A few simple steps to get the most from your scented candle
Trim the wick to 5mm before lighting and relighting and avoid placing the candle in a draught. This ensures an even burn, prevents smoking and keeps the wax pool free from debris.
Allow the candle to become liquid across the entire surface by burning for a minimum time before extinguishing: for votives around 1 hour, medium candles around 2 hours and large candles around 3 hours. Over time this ensures all the wax is used.
The wick should be upright and in the centre, reposition if necessary soon after the candle has been extinguished and the wax has cooled slightly.
Burn the candle for a maximum of 4 hours at a time and for votives around 2 hours at a time.
Allow to cool and solidify then follow the steps above each time you re-light.
Keep candles away from children, pets and flammable materials.
Protect the surface on which the candle rests, never let the flame burn to the glass candle base and do not leave a burning candle unattended.
Snapdragon Edinburgh, updated July 2017