If you don't know your lilies from your lilacs, choosing flowers can be a daunting task – even more so if you're trying to keep them alive. If you need help choosing the right flowers for a special occasion, want to send a meaningful bouquet to a loved one or have to get an arrangement delivered the next day with ease, this guide is for you. We'll take you through the interesting world of flower language and suggest some suitable blossoms for different events. We'll also explain the best methods to keep your flowers looking fresh for longer. Finally, we'll explore the benefits of artificial flowers.

Vase with orange and white flowers

Over hundreds of years, flowers have come to possess specific meanings. You can say a lot with a carefully chosen bouquet by matching your flower choice to the occasion.

Valentine's Day: The clue's in the name of the forget-me-not flower. Pair a bunch with roses, violets and pansies for a memorable Valentine's bouquet.

For a special someone: Camellias come in a variety of colours with different meanings, including passion and faithfulness; they'll show your partner how much you love them.

Making an apology: Chrysanthemums have often been associated with revealing the truth, which might be suitable if you need to tell someone you're sorry.

Get well soon: The peaceful blue hues of irises and hydrangeas make them a popular choice to send to someone recovering from illness.

Moving house: Daffodils bloom in the spring, so they have connotations of new beginnings. A bunch of these flowers will definitely brighten up a friend's new living room.

Funerals: Lilies are an age-old symbol of devotion. They're traditionally used at funerals to show you're still thinking of the one who's passed on.

First dates: Lilacs are associated with youth and first love, while daisies represent innocence. Both are a perfect way to break the ice on a first date.

Round vase with large white flowers

How you choose to arrange flowers is limited only by your imagination. However, there are a few common setups that you're likely to find online.

Hand-tied flowers

This is a collection of pre-arranged flowers, so you can pop them straight into a vase. They'll often be delivered with a water bubble at the bottom to keep them alive while in transit. The key is to give them fresh water as soon as they arrive.

Presentation bouquets

This option is ideal for the flower lover who likes to arrange their own way. These bouquets come in a flat-pack-style design ready to be set up at home. Some florists have perfected this technique so well that they can be posted through a letterbox.

Planted bowls

Arrangements planted in soil are wonderful gifts for any flower fan who likes to get green-fingered and attend to their gift for months to come. If you want to be really on-trend, seek out a succulent; they add a splash of colourful personality to any home or office.

Wide round vase with orchids

Here’s how to set up your arrangement after it arrives:

  • Clean the vase thoroughly to keep your plants healthy.

  • Trim off any leaves that will fall below the level of the water in your vase.

  • Cut the stems diagonally with a sharp knife or scissors. This will increase the water flow to the buds. Try not to use blunt instruments as this can damage the stems.

  • Place each stem into the vase as soon as you cut it.

  • Criss-cross the stems as you arrange them to provide more stability to the bouquet and achieve a professional look.

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Close up of pink flower

There are plenty of old wives' tales floating around with recipes claiming to increase the lifespan of cut flowers, but not all of them work. A little sugar will pep up your plant’s energy levels, but it also encourages bacteria. Other people recommend a tiny dash of bleach to keep the water clean, but it's important to get the quantity exactly right. Bear in mind that it's a toxic product, so it's unsuitable for particularly delicate flowers.

Flower food is the best option, and most flower arrangements come supplied with a sachet or two. Just follow the instructions on the packet and replace the water every few days for happy and healthy blooms. Sadly, they won't last forever, but that gives you an excuse to try out new arrangements.

Watering can with artificial flowers

Realistic artificial flowers can be as beautiful as the real thing. Good quality options are hard to tell apart, and require absolutely no maintenance. All you have to do is find the best place to put them; try using them in a window display or as a centrepiece at your dining table. You can rely on them to look stunning time after time.

Keep some styrofoam padding close by if you need to add some extra support. It's worth noting that artificial flowers are still delicate and should be handled with care, as most are made from silk, parchment, velvet or latex. Gently clean the fabric flowers with a damp cloth to remove any dust.

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