chrysanthemums as cut flowers

It's now five weeks since I returned from Holland with a box of cut chrysanthemums and this morning I threw the last one away. That's an incredible vase life – five weeks in a dark, warm house and still looking good.

I started with them arranged on tall stems, in narrow-necked bottles, and once a week cut a little off the stem, changed the water, put a slosh of vinegar into the vase and left them until the next week. By the end, they were in smaller containers, a milk jug or tankard, under the table lights in the sitting room and in a row down the kitchen table.

The secret with chrysanthemums is not to pack them into one vase together, but to string them out in their own single-stem bottles, with plenty of air in between. If you're someone who loves flowers around your house, but don't have time to make – or buy – expensive and elaborate arrangements, these are the plants for you. Just one large flower, or one stem with three or five smaller heads, and you're away.

For more information on growing your own chrysanthemums for cut flowers well into the winter, see our growing guide: How to plant, grow & care for chrysanthemums.