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How to make spring flowers last longer

conditioning tulip stemsHave you ever picked spring flowers, got them inside, arranged them in a vase only to have them flop, shrivel and die in a couple of days?

This guide is going to stop that happening ever again.

The main thing is to remember that spring flowers are different from other flowers.

Spring flowers shoot up fast, they go from hunched leaves shivering in cold weather to showy blooms waving in the sun in just a few weeks. This is one of the reasons that they are so precious.

This means that they have sappy, water filled stems with hardly any structure. Your main aim is to keep the flowers hydrated - to keep as much water in the stems as possible and to make it easy for them to drink.

conditioning tulip stems

Picking -

  • Pick your flowers when it is cool, either in the morning or at night is best - this is when the flowers have as much fluid in their stems as possible.
  • Pick directly into a bucket - every minute that the stems are out of water they are getting dehydrated.
  • If you are buying flowers rather than picking them try to keep them cool until you get home - don't leave them on a sunny parcel shelf.

conditioning tulip stems


  • Take off all the leaves that you don't absolutely need for your arrangement. Leaves invisibly 'sweat', so the fewer leaves there are, the less dehydrated the flowers will be.
  • Boil a kettle of water and pour about 5-10 cm of just boiled water into a mug or jug. The shorter the stems the less water you need - so bluebells need less than tulips.
  • Sear the ends of the flower stems for a couple of seconds and then put straight into a vase or pot of luke warm water. There are lots of conflicting arguments about why searing works - it might break down the cell walls helping the stem to take up water, it might shock the plant, it might sterilise the stem and stop bacteria. It doesn't actually matter why it works - it just does. I find that flowers whose stems have been seared last 4 days longer in the vase.
  • Leave the flowers in the vase for a couple of hours in a cool place and then arrange.

conditioning tulip stems

In the vase - how and where you display your flowers has a big effect on the vase life

  • Make sure your vase is very clean.
  • Do not put the vase in full sun - the aim is to keep them nicely hydrated so baking in full sun is going to make them overheat and flop. They won't be able to drink fast enough to make up for the fluid they are losing.
  • Do not put the vase near a fruit bowl. All fruit, but particularly bananas, give off ethylene which encourages ripening. This is why you can ripen an avocado by putting it in a paper bag with a banana. For flowers ripening means the flowers dying and moving onto seed production. You do not want this!
  • Keep an eye on water levels, spring flowers are incredibly thirsty and can drink a vase of water in a couple of days.
  • Remove individual flowers as they die and the rest of the arrangement will last longer.
  • Changing water every couple of days has a slight effect on how long flowers last. I don't do this because it is a hassle, but it is there as an option!
conditioning tulip stems


If you liked reading this you might like to read more about the tulips I grow.


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The hazel tree on the back lawn was the only tree when we moved here 16 years ago. 
Over the summer, when Euan was repairing the shed floor, he found thousands and thousands of empty hazel nuts under it, all neatly gnawed open by tiny, tiny teeth. 
Imagine those field mouse parties, the hazelnuts held up between tiny paws.

We tend to just pick the easy to reach nuts, tonight I’ll make a carrot and green hazelnut salad and I shall feel nicely smug at eating from the garden! 
I’ll leave the windfalls for the mice and the high ups for the red squirrels. They were here before us. 
Hazel trees fruit at a fairly young age. The ones we planted as tiny whips in the hedge 10 years ago are fruiting this year and I’m sure they would have been faster if they hadn’t been growing in long grass, part of a deliberately neglected wild area. 
I’ll put the recipe up on stories later.
When I was on holiday last month I messaged a number of close friends with a three point 'priority list' that I wanted them to hold me to. ⁠⠀
It read-⁠⠀
1. Simplify things so that people actually know what the Studio Membership is.⁠⠀
2. Make amazing things for my members.⁠⠀
3. Talk about what I do to lots of people in lots of ways.⁠⠀
The point was for the to stop me doing other things as a distraction from my main job, a job that is feeling more and more important, helping people being more small joyful things into their lives.⁠⠀
I've been working on 1 and 2 since getting home - the website now has 1/4 of the categories that it had, the link to the membership is now actually on the home page, I've been finalising new products and working on next month's members e-course (about how to wrap beautiful natural seasonal inspired gifts without the Pinterest fuss).⁠⠀
The third - the talking - is always a struggle for me and I suspect it may always be. There is too much conditioning there, too much being a nicely quiet, head down, work hard, Scottish girl at heart. ⁠⠀
But I am trying hard . . . . and have resolved too email some people this afternoon and tell them what I do.⁠⠀
I love bracken at this fleeting time of year - the burst of bright gold before it blends back into the forest floor. ⁠⠀
An unusual photo for me perhaps but over in the Snapdragon Studio Bee we have been having a really interesting and honest conversation about what people look for when they are buying things - whether it is eco packaging or organic contents or everything made in the UK.⁠⠀
It was such an interesting topic that it made me realise that I have really not done enough to show the thought and reasoning behind all the things in our products.  I think I felt it was a bit eco-smug at the time. ⠀
Anyway . . . I have begun with the calendula balm kit and you can see the result above - making a flat lay of all the contents and a key as to what everything is, where it comes from and whether it can be recycled.⁠⠀
If you want to join the Facebook group it is completely free and open to all - just google Snapdragon Studio Bee and let me know what makes you smile.⁠⠀
And the balm kit now has all its info in place and you can see it on the website www.snapdragonlife.com
Natural dyeing.⁠⠀
I think that the most amazing thing about my little foray into natural dyeing is how adding a modifier, in this case a little bit of rust, can transform a colour.⁠⠀
⁠⠀ Both of these were dyed in the same pot.  I chopped up willow leaves and bark and soaked them in water for two days, before simmering for an hour and leaving to steep overnight. ⁠⠀
I then removed the willow and simmered my 2 hanks of silk yarn for an hour and let the liquid cool.  One hank was removed - which is the gorgeous pale pink - and I added some rusty metal to the pot and watched the silk turn dark grey as though by magic.⁠⠀
Natural dyeing has been something that I have meaning to try at home ever since I went on a course with @debbiethedyer years and years ago.  I'm so glad that I actually thought to make it into a little project and actually put it in my diary this year.
Since I got back from holiday the bottles on my bedroom windowsill have been empty.⁠⠀
They looked pretty - like an art installation - but also sad.  There was so little left in the garden that it felt a shame to pick it and turn all views from the house into a sludge of frosted stems.⁠⠀
Yesterday I decided enough was enough - that there must be some small things that I could pick and Dixie and I went for a walk along the road with a pair of secateurs.⁠⠀
This was the result - a windowsill that Euan claims is overstuffed! - berries and leaves and seed heads all tucked under the long grass.⁠⠀
It was a lesson in remembering to venture out and look.  What have you seen recently?
Sometimes it takes a long time to see things clearly, to actually see what it is that is the heart of what you want to do with that ‘one wild and precious life’. I finally feel I’m getting there and I’m tagging a whole bunch of amazing people who have helped me figure it out and winnow it down over the past couple of years.
Who else is dreaming of planting spring bulbs at the moment? 
I can’t think of another activity that sums up that Audrey Hepburn quote “to plant a garden is to believe in tomorrow” - the tucking up of smooth bulbs in the cold ground, the watching for shoots in spring. It feels miraculous. 
This month’s Studio Members e-course is about Spring bulbs, how to choose, how to plant, what I have learned here over the decades. 
It has been lovely hearing about what people are planting and why.
Overwhelm - I wrote a blog this week about how I fell prey to overwhelm and what I did to get over it - you can read it by clicking through my profile.⁠⠀
I had actually always thought of myself as someone who didn't get overwhelmed, who had so many tactics in place to stay present, stay slow, stay engaged and take action.⁠⠀
I thought I was immune to getting caught up, tangled up in overwhelm.⁠⠀
Until that wasn't the case and I ended up weeping at the sheer difficulty of everything.  All I wanted was someone to breeze in and do all my adulting for me.⁠⠀
It was a lesson in not taking things for granted and to stop and take stock more often.  To avoid drama, to sit still, to do meaningful things.⁠⠀
I'd love to know your tips, in a comment here on on the blog, or as a direct message.⁠⠀

About Snapdragon

At Snapdragon we gently guide you through bringing the changing seasons into your daily life, helping you slow down, so that you can experience increased well being, calm and creativity.

Through our communities, both free and paid for, through Jane's writing on the blog, through carefully hand crafted gifts and activity kits, and through our online and in-person workshops we aim to bring people back in touch with the rhythms of a seasonal life.

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