How to look after your beautiful fresh flowers? What is conditioning? Very important questions to ask when you are dealing with wholesale flowersconditioning simply means looking after and treating the flowers before you start working with them, ensuring that the flowers are in the BEST condition for the maximum possible time. This process MUST be started on arrival of the flowers and before you start arranging them. Here is a step by step guide to help you:

Step 1

Flowers should be unpacked immediately on arrival. Remove all packaging material. A good inch should be cut from the stems at a 45 degree angle with a sharp knife – top tip: do not use scissors, as they will crush the stems and prevent water freely flowing up to the flower heads. Air locks in the stem are the most common cause of wilting.

cutting stems at 45 degrees with knife


Step 2

Strip the lower foliage from the stems. Any leaves that are left under water will start to rot – this will cause a build up of bacteria and may block the stem ends as well as feeding the flower heads with the bacteria.

stripping foliage from the stems

Step 3

Fill your flower buckets between a quarter & one half full with luke warm water. Add flower food at the appropriate rates (flower food will help prevent bacteria). All buckets must be spotlessly clean to prevent bacteria. Flowers should be left in water for at least 2/3 hours before arranging and preferably overnight.

adding water & flower food to bucket

Never leave your flowers near a radiator or in a draft and always keep out of direct sun light. The ideal conditions for flowers are in a dark, cool environment around 5 to 8 degrees. 


Woody Stems. E.g. Roses, Mimosa, Eucalyptus, Beech, Pittosporum etc

  • Cut stems at a 45 degree angle using a sharp knife.
  • Remove lower foliage.
  • Fill clean buckets with warm water – add flower food.
  • The outer petals on roses are called ‘Guard Petals’. They are often darker in colour and thicker than the inner petals. These can be carefully removed.

removing guard petals from roses

Semi Woody Stems. E.g. Chrysanthemums, lilies, carnations, leatherleaf etc

  • Condition in the same way as Woody Stems.

Soft Stems. E.g. Freesia, Hellebore, Anemones etc

  • Cut stems at a 45 degree angle using a sharp knife.
  • Remove lower foliage.
  • Fill clean buckets with warm water – add flower food.
  • Immerse up to their necks in water.
  • Leave overnight.

showing flowers up to their neck in water

Hollow Stems. E.g. Delphiniums, Aconitum, Larkspur, Lupins etc

  • Cut stems at a 45 degree angle using a sharp knife.
  • Remove lower foliage.
  • Fill clean buckets with warm water – add flower food.
  • Turn stems upside down & fill the hollow stem with tepid water.
  • Hold thumb over the stem until it is placed into bucket of warm water.

showing filling up stems with water

Bulbous Stems. E.g. Daffodils, Narcissus, Tulips, Hyacinths etc

  • Cut off the white firm end of the stem with a sharp knife.
  • Fill clean buckets with cold water – add flower food.
  • Daffodils exude a poisonous sap when cut. This will kill other flowers if conditioned in the same water – always condition separately.


  • On receipt, cut the stems with a sharp knife at 45 degrees and submerge the entire hydrangea flower in water for at least 2 hours or over night, (making sure the flower blooms are under water as well – to be honest you can leave cut Hydrangea submerged under cold water for a couple of weeks!).
  • Sterilise a bucket and fill with clean water & flower food.
  • Strip the lower foliage from the stems and place the flowers in the bucket.
  • Carefully remove any marked petals.
  • Never stand the wholesale hydrangea in direct sunlight or near a radiator.
  • Try to keep the temperature around 8 degrees.

Extra Notes

  • Single leaves can be totally immersed in water to condition them.
  • Shiny, smooth foliage can be washed. Leaf-shine can also be applied.
  • Carnations and spray carnations should have their stems cut between the joints.
  • Tulips will always bend towards the light. Wrap in newspaper or brown paper when conditioning to keep them straight.
  • Remove all foliage from lilacs, (syringa), and forsythia so sufficient water reaches the flower head.
  • Remove lily stamens. The pollen will stain skin, clothes and furnishings.
  • Cover mimosa flower heads with a plastic bag when conditioning to stop them drying out.
  • Some flowers can still wilt even after conditioning. Roses are a good example! Should this happen: re-cut the stems and place in near boiling water – this will destroy the air lock. Wrap the flower heads in tissue or newspaper to protect them from steam. Leave in water for approx. half an hour. When the flowers are revived, re-cut the stems, as the boiling water will have damaged them. Continue to condition before arranging

For further information on the conditioning process, visit our website flower guides @  or call us on 01394 385 832 to find out more !!

Don’t forget we sell wholesale flowers to EVERYONE.



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