How to get your spray carnations to open

Last month I asked my Facebook followers whether they had flower related problems they wanted answering.  One response stood out, and that was – why don’t all the flowers open up on stems of spray carnations.

Initially, my response was going to be why would you want all your flower buds to open up? 

I think spray carnations are a perfect little flower.  Some heads are in full bloom, others in part-bloom and the rest in tight bud.  It sums up the cycle of life from the start of life to maturity.  When you’re buying your spray carnations make sure there some colourful petals showing. They don’t all need to be open though – take them home and enjoy them as the develop and mature over the next couple of weeks, or so.

Having said that - I guess if you’re buying flowers to treat a friend you’ll want them to be in tip top presentation condition – rather than gifting what might be viewed as an underrated bunch of greenery!

how to get spray carnations to open
how to get spray carnations to open

Two things to think about

Before I share the way I encourage my spray carnations to open – please bear two important points in mind. 

  1. If you’re too rough with your flowers you’re going to damage them and shorten their vase life.
  2. Some flower buds just won’t ever be mature enough on your cut stem to open.

Once home you need to condition your spray carnations.  This is what florists do to encourage flowers to take up water.  You might find it interesting to read this blog post which I wrote a while ago.

Conditioning spray carnations

The steps you need to take are quite easy.

  1. Remove any packaging
  2. Peel off the leaves which will be submerged in water once you've put your stems in a vase
  3. Re-cut the stems at an angle – between the bumpy node points, not directly through them (they won’t take up water so well if you do that)
  4. Add flower food and tepid water to your clean vase

How to encourage your spray carnations to open

There are two ways you can encourage your flowers to open.  The first is to hold the flower head in one hand and gentle ruffle the petals with the other. And the second is to push in, in turn, each of the green pointed sepals with your thumb nail allowing them to pop out slightly and release their grip on the flower bud, so your tight furl of petals can relax and open outwards.

The sepals are there to protect the flower bud as it matures and will open out natural in time anyway.

If you’re thinking ahead to Mother’s Day I’m told that pink carnations symbolise Mother’s love.

how to get spray carnations to open
how to get spray carnations to open

Stuck for what to do for your Mum this Mother’s Day?

On the subject of Mother’s Day – I have the perfect gift idea for you.  Have you heard of #Flowerstart? It’s an online course run by me, Julie Davies. I’m an award-winning florist and Mum.

Flowerstart will give you (or your Mum) the chance to learn how to create stunning flower arrangements in your own home. As the course is online you really can do it anywhere and at anytime. There’s a supportive Flowerstart group on Facebook too where you can share your creations with other Flowerstart-ers and me along the way. I’ll offer ongoing support and feedback to help you get the most out of your flowers.

#Flowerstart really does make a fantastic and unusual present. You can gift a place today for only £99 – or, if you book by Wednesday 8 March – International Women’s Day – you can save £20.  Email me at to claim your discount.

how to get spray carnations to open

5-day FREE mini-course

If you're planning to find  your happy with flowers this week don’t forget you can amaze your friends with your knowledge about getting your flowers to last longer. Sign up here for access to my FREE five-day mini course and make a start on getting your flowers to last longer.

Until next time, happy flowers!



If your flower arranging skills need a bit of a boost, perhaps you’d like to find out more about my 4-week online flower arranging class - click through to my post on Frequently Asked Questions.

If you’d like to join my 4-week online flower arranging class you can find out more about it here.




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