‘How to make fresh flowers last longer in Jakarta’ was inspired by our perennial love of gorgeous blooms and foliage and our weekly ‘fresh flower buying’ routines. For Jo and I, flowers are an essential home decor item, but they also represent much more. The simple habit of visiting our local flower markets or ‘pasar bunga’ has become a significant part of our weekly routines and a ritual we will remember long after our time in Jakarta.
My ‘flower buying routine’ takes place every Monday and involves my bike, a rattan bike basket, a hot cappuccino, a MONOCLE magazine, The Jakarta Post newspaper and my favourite flowers.
I leave home early after the kids have left for school, and I stop first at my local cafe, Woodpecker which opens at 7. I park my bicycle next to the motor bikes, place my helmet in my basket and head inside. Over my coffee I spend time with my diary checking my plans for the week ahead; I scan the Jakarta Post which I tote with me, and if I have time, I love to read an article or two from the MONOCLE magazines that are in the cafe.
Next I’m ready to make my way up the road to my local flower market on Jl. Terogong Raya before the day begins to heat up. I always start at Rifky Florist and choose some thin stem flowers such as ‘anggrek tiger’ tiger orchids, if my garden is a little bare, some green foliage such as split leaf philodendron, then I cross the street to the Banana Florist where I buy some short chunky stemmed flowers such as hydrangea and if my basket is not too overladen, sedap madam. My flowers are then tied up and onto my bike basket in the traditional Jakarta ‘bike toting way’ with blue string. Once I’m home, my aim is to prolong the freshness of my flowers until the following Monday when I do this all over again.
What is it about this routine that I love? My routine energises me, helps me to see things in a new way and inspires my week ahead. I love the freedom of getting out on my bike; taking my time at the pasar, and for a short time the enjoyment of being self reliant on my own transport. My Monday routine connects me to the people in my neighbourhood and in a small way makes me feel like a local!
One of the genuine attractions to the area in which I live in South Jakarta are all the florist shops that line the street as you approach my neighbourhood. I recall this being a significant factor when choosing to live there – the colour, vibrancy and community associated with the flower shops really delighted me, and still does. Every other week, I tend to buy fresh flowers for either our home or as a gift to others. Most typically, I make my floral selections as I jog past my favourite local florist on my morning run. I quickly cast my eye over the blooms and after my run, wander back down the street to make my purchase (usually with my dog in tow!) However, this is never a quick process as I really enjoy a chat with the flower vendors, Pak Mardi and Pak Agus.
What I buy depends on when my favourites are available. Usually my kecombrang (torch ginger flowers) are available later in the week. Mardi and Agus confirm the availability as I run past their ‘toko bunga’ in the morning. They put aside 4-5 long stems, knowing that I’ll be back a little later. I put the kecombrang in a vase and use it in cooking if/when needed. I tend to check in with the guys whenever I pass by (which is almost daily) and they let me know which flowers are fresh for that day.
We have the best florist shops near our house in Kemang. In particular, Brothers Mardi and Agus (originally from Yogyakarta) have the freshest and most comprehensive variety of flowers. They can fill your vases, make floral arrangements, and if I ever need any flowers or flower boards made (bunga papan) and delivered, they will organise this too. I trust their quality and price. My all-time favourite Indonesian flowers are teratai (lotus flowers and their seed pods). Unlike other flowers, when these age they become more interesting and beautiful. Also unlike most other flowers, teratai grow wild in the waterways. I also really like kecombrang (torch ginger) as they are aesthetically beautiful as well as being great in cooking!
What is it about this routine that I love? I have a really nice friendship with Mardi and Agus. I met them when I first arrived in Jakarta and I’ve practised my Bahasa Indonesia with them ever since. They have even given me recommendations on places to visit around their home city of Yogyakarta. Mardi and Agus know my children and the kids even enjoy visiting them to buy fresh flowers too! I love the fact that we all share the same neighbourhood. It’s nice to feel a part of this and when we see them on our morning run, it makes me happy about the community in which we live. It’s a good vibe.
Tips for making your fresh flowers last longer:
Harvesting or buying
We find early morning to be the best time to cut flowers and foliage or buy from our local pasar bunga.
Always start with a sparkling clean vase. Wash vases in hot soapy water before use to remove any bacteria which cause flowers to wilt prematurely. Fill your vase with warm water, this helps the stems to absorb water easily.
Clean, sharp secateurs or scissors are essential to remove the bottom leaves from flower stems.
Cut and re-cut the stems
Another way to ensure your flowers soak up the most water is to cut the ends of the stems with sharp clean secateurs or scissors, cutting at an angle. This gives more surface area to the stems tip, which will help the flower to better draw in water.
If time permits, place your flowers or foliage into deep, cool water for at least an hour to allow the stems to drink the water.
Yes, you can make your own flower food. Try 1 tsp sugar, which essentially feeds the flowers, but can contribute to bacteria. To help with this try 2 tsps lemon / lime juice or vinegar which is nicer on the environment and your airways than household bleach.
Choose the right vase for your chosen flowers or foliage. Confession … Jo and I are both mad about vases … vases of all shapes and sizes …so we really enjoy this step.
Choose where to put your flowers
A place away from direct light, drafts or air conditioner vents we find is best. I sometimes put flowers in the refrigerator overnight if I especially want to ensure their freshness for the next day, if I have enough space!
Change the water every other day
Different types of flowers need different levels of water. So it is important to check water levels daily and add more water as necessary. The more flowers in a vase the higher the level of water. Also, if the water becomes cloudy that is a sign of bacteria, so it is time to refresh the water.
Enjoy your flowers! and the Routines that make your week rewarding and uplifting!
Wishing you all a Happy long Weekend! To our friends and family who celebrate, Selamat Hari Paskah! Happy Easter!
Liz and Jo
Follow us over on Instagram @ajourneybespoke for more tropical flower love and a daily dose of our journeys and adventures in Jakarta. For some long weekend reading, why not check out these tropical flower posts:
Our Favourite Toko Bunga
Mardi and Agus
Cnr Jl. Kemang Selatan 1 and Jl. Kemang Dalam X
Jl. Terogong Raya No. 22
Jl. Terogong Raya No. 100
Words: Liz and Jo Photography: a journey bespoke and Nita Strudwick Photograph Photo Credit Gallery Photo below: Liz and Jo at Pasar Rawa Belong