How To Check If Cut Flowers Are Fresh

Fresh flowers should feel crisp or firm. Before you buy, run your hand under the flower heads from stem to petal tip. Proceed gently under the petals so as not to bruise them.

If the flower vendor objects, give them a withering look and enquire in a loud voice, "Are these flowers fresh?"

If the flowers feel soft, cool or damp, don't buy them.

Keep testing the other bunches until you find a good one. Often there are only one or two bunches older than the others. Look and listen. Really fresh flowers will make a soft rustling sound as you stroke them.

As flowers age:

- the foliage will start to yellow from the bottom upwards

- the stems will discolor from the bottom up as bacteria spreads from the cut

- seeds or pollen on the flower head will open and shed spores

- the petals will fade in colour, lose moisture, dehydrate and eventually collapse

Remember: It's your money and you want the best value for it. As a consumer you have a right to examine an item before you buy, and this is especially important for anything perishable.

Once you get your fresh flowers home, remember to change the water daily, recut the stems often and enjoy your flowers longer.

Gerry Belvedere is a former artist who now runs her own online florist service at Rosaflora delivers flowers Australia wide and overseas and offers tips on getting the most out of your cut flowers.

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