When you are given a bouquet of fresh flowers, what do you do? Naturally, you look for a vase and fill it with fresh water.

But there’s a lot more to properly caring for and maintaining fresh cut flowers. For maximum enjoyment of your bouquet, I have created a simple checklist:

First start fresh. By selecting the freshest flowers from a professional florist you ensure that your purchase contains the freshest flowers, flown directly from the growers to the florist shop.

Upon receiving a flower bouquet, it is important that the flowers are protected from cold temperatures, including being properly wrapped to ensure their safe arrival from the florist to your home.

Cut bouquets should not be without water for more than two hours. If you are travelling a distance with your flowers, ask your florist to prepare a travel pack of oasis foam.

When your flowers have arrived safely indoors, gently unwrap the stems and select a container that suits the style and size of your bouquet. The vessel should hold enough water to allow for an adequate uptake of water.

The vessel should be clean and free from harmful bacteria that will jeopardize the life span of the flowers.

Most flowers enjoy being placed in warm water, however some bulbs such as tulips actually prefer cold water. Ask your florist for guidance on caring for your preferred varieties of flowers.

Once you have chosen a vessel, prepare a preservative using the preservative package provided by your local florist. Mix the solution according to the directions on the package. Too little preservative will create a breeding ground for bacterial growth.

Flowers need this preservative/food combination to allow them the opportunity to open fully and meet their optimum performance. Preservative will provide a bacteria-free environment as well as nourishment for the cut flowers.

A properly mixed preservative will extend the life of your flowers up to 35 per cent.

Flowers need to be re-cut (preferably daily) using a sharp knife, on a clean angle. Flower stems should be cut on an angle to increase the surface area for water intake.

When flowers are re-cut, they need to be placed immediately into a vase of water. Re-cutting roses, outside of a water source, will allow for air to be absorbed into the stem. As a result, the flower head will droop.

Flowers cut using dull shears or scissors will actually compress the stems together and create a lessor opening for the uptake of water. This will greatly reduce the life span of the flowers.

Before arranging cut flowers, remove any foliages that will extend into the vase of water. Loose foliage in water creates harmful bacteria that shortens the life span of cut flowers.

Flowers do well when displayed in a cool area of your home, away from direct heat and sunlight sources. For lasting enjoyment, move your flowers for the night into a cooler area of your home.

By following these few simple steps, you will generally lengthen the life span of your cut flowers by a week or more.

Shari Morash is a gardening enthusiast and an accredited designer. She is the owner and founder of Northern Elegance. Contact her at shari.morash@gmail.com.