Making Cut Flowers Last Longer

Making Cut Flowers Last Longer

Flower arranging is not only creative and fun, but a beautiful way to showcase or share the beauty of your garden. Here are some simple tips to make your fresh-picked flowers last as long as possible.

  1. Vase-life can be shortened by bacteria and fungus. Clean and sanitize tools, buckets or vases used in harvesting and arranging.
  2. After cutting the flowers, have a clean bucket of tepid water nearby so you can put flowers in the water right away. Keep stems a little long so you can recut them if needed while arranging them later.
  3. Cut flowers in the morning. Plants take up water at night and are refreshed and hydrated in the morning.
  4. Choose flowers that are not fully open; about 75% open will give you a longer vase life.
  5. Cut stems at an angle to increase the area that the stem can take up water. Hollow stem flowers: Lupines, delphiniums, and hollyhocks tend to dry out quickly. To keep them moist, flip the flowers upside down, fill the stems with water, and plug with cotton or soft tissue. Hold the plug in place while placing each flower in the water right side up. Flowers with sap: Some poppies, for example, tend to seal their stems quickly. Keep stems open by either applying a flame until the opening blackens, or dipping the stem in boiling water for 20 to 30 seconds.
  6. Remove any leaves that would be touching water in the vase to prevent fungus and bacteria from growing.
  7. Mixing a floral preservative (found at a florist) with warm water is the best preservative option. These preservatives contain sugars to keep flowers fresh, an acidifier to raise the pH of tap water, and biocides to keep fungus and bacteria at bay. You can also make your own additive using a can of clear lemon-lime (non-diet) soda, which adds sugars and is acidifying, along with 1 tablespoon of bleach per one gallon of water (recipe courtesy of the Floral Design Institute).
  8. Once in the vase, place flowers away from direct sunlight, heat, drafts, or fruit. When fruit ripens, it emits gasses that cause flowers to age more quickly.
  9. Putting flowers in the refrigerator at night before bed has proven to make bouquets last several days longer.
  10. The most important step is also the easiest—change your vase water every 2 to 3 days.

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