Fresh cut flowers brighten the day of people the world over. Whether cut directly from the garden, a delivery from a florist, or a stop at your neighborhood market, their vibrant colors and aromas are a very popular gift.
Unfortunately, when not maintained properly, they often begin to droop and wilt after several days. Follow these important tips to keep your cut flowers fresh and in full bloom. The sooner you get your flowers home and complete this, the longer they will last.
- When selecting a vase, choose one that is the proper size to support a flower at least half way up its stem. Flowers will stay upright longer with a small bit of support to take weight off of the stem. This also allows them to take in more water further up the stem.
- Make sure the vase is properly cleaned. Previously used and brand new vases can bring the same problems to flowers. Bacteria, previous growth, and soap residue can prevent stems from drawing in water.
Preparing the Water
- The rule of thumb is cold water will preserve fully opened or day old flowers better; while warm (not hot) water will encourage closed flowers and buds to open.
- If the flowers or vase came with filling instructions, follow those. If not, fill the vase slightly less than half-full of water. Use your best judgement, and remember depending on the amount and stem thickness of flowers you put in a vase, the volume will cause the water to rise.
- If possible, stay away from using soft water.
Here are the best tips (in order) on what you can add to the water to keep them looking better, longer:
- Packets of “plant food” included with flowers are often the best choice. If you received one, mix half of the packet with the water. Within 2-3 days change the water in the vase with fresh, cold water and use the other half of the packet.
- Fill the vase with a mixture of 50% water and 50% lemon-lime soda. Do not use diet soda.
- Place one standard aspirin (non-coated) in the water and wait for it to dissolve. Stir the water prior to placing flowers in.
- Mix 2 Teaspoons of sugar, 1 Teaspoon of lemon juice (fresh or bottled), and 1/4 Teaspoon bleach in at least 24 ounces of water and mix.
What about a Penny? While pennies minted before 1982 may have enough copper in them to mitigate some fungus growth, coins are often dirty and foreign substances on the surface of the coin may do more harm than good.
Preparing the Flowers
- Stand the flowers against the vase to get an idea of the proper height.
- Under perfect conditions, it is preferable to cut flower stems in water. If this is not an option (or is not safe) be ready to place the flowers in the filled vase as quickly as possible.
- Be sure to use a clean sharp scissors or knife (preferably non-serrated). Thin, sharp-bladed scissors tend to work best. They should be strong enough that they do not pinch or squeeze the stem.
- Cut at least 1 to 3 inches off the base of the stem, more if necessary.
- Cut the stem at a 45 degree angle. This gives the stem more surface area to draw in more water.
- Remove any leaves and foliage that would be under or touching water once the flowers are put in the vase.
- Note: Do not remove thorns from roses if it can be avoided; this will help them last a few extra days.
- Remove any dead or wilted foliage.
- Your flowers will do the best in 68 to 72 degrees Fahrenheit for extended periods of time.
- Keep your flowers away from any drafts, vents, heat sources, and wind sources. This will dry your flowers out more quickly. Keep in mind things like ceiling fans, TV’s, radiators, and other household appliances.
- Unless advised to in the instructions, keep your flowers out of direct sunlight.
Extended Care for Fresh Cut Flowers
- To stretch the beauty of your flowers even longer, pay attention to them every 3 days.
- Change the water in the vase. If the original water is murky after only a few days, wash the vase or use a different one.
- Cut another 1 to 3 inches off the base of the stem at a 45 degree angle.
- Remove any dead or wilted foliage once every two to three days.
Follow these caring tips to keep your flowers smiling well past their shelf life.