How to Make Cut Flowers Last Longer
What to Look For When Buying Cut Flowers
- Closed or only partially-open buds.
- Locally grown flowers.
- Healthy green leaves.
- Florist stores with a steady trade.
- Clean fresh-looking plants.
- Fully open blooms.
- Air-freighted blooms.
- Withered, yellow or brown leaves.
- Tired "old-looking" stock.
Signs of mildew or mold.
Say I Love You With Flowers
Flowers make a beautiful gift; an expression of love or as a way of saying thank you. When giving or receiving a bouquet the important thing to remember is that they are (or rather were) part of a living organism. From the moment the blooms are cut, to the moment you put them into a vase with water, they need to be treated with care.
If you are lucky enough to be able to grow flowers in your own garden, bring them indoors as soon as possible after cutting. This will make the transition from soil to water quick and relatively painless for your flowers and wilI cause the least trauma to the cut stems. One of my favorite plants for cut flowers is the fragrant sweet pea variety Heirloom Old Spice. The more flowers you cut, the more buds the plant produces, so you can have home grown flowers perfuming your home for months.
However most people buy their cut flowers from a supermarket or specialist florist's store. This means that some hours may pass between buying and the time when the flowers are once again immersed in water.
Flower Food Sachets Help Cut Flowers Last Longer
Many bouquets of cut flowers are sold with a small flower food sachet attached. These will help the cut flowers to last longer. Flower-food is a mixture of bleach and sugar. The bleach kills any bacteria in the vase water, and the sugar feeds the flowers and maintains their freshness. If there is no sachet with the flowers you buy, you can make your own. To do this dissolve a teaspoonful of sugar (or one sugar cube) plus one teaspoonful of bleach into each liter (2 pints) of vase water.
The video below made by Reader’s Digest gives some other suggestions. These include adding either a copper coin or an aspirin to the vase water. There is no scientific evidence to support these alternative methods, but some people swear they work as well as homemade bleach and sugar flower food.
How to Make Flowers Last Longer
Fresh Cut Flowers
Do you like fresh flowers in your home?
Caring For Fresh Flowers
When choosing flowers In the store, make sure that every part of the bouquet or posy looks in good condition. Check that none of the leaves have withered or turned brown or show signs of disease. The flowers should be either in bud or only slightly open.
When you get home, make sure the vase you intend to use is really clean. It is a good idea to rinse it with bleach. Use a scouring pad to remove all traces of mildew or algae from previous flower bouquets. Before arranging the flowers in the vase, you need to condition them first. This means allowing them to rehydrate for a couple of hours and absorb the moisture they have lost since being cut from their roots.
Conditioning and Preparing the Cut Stems
When the stem draws water up into the flower heads it also takes water to any leaves below the flowers. So the first step is to remove any excess leaves that you do not want in the finished arrangement. Make sure you remove any leaves that will be below the water level of the vase as these will rot and taint the water. Then take off any remaining leaves that you do not want for contrast color next to the blooms.
By the time your flowers or plants arrive in your home, they will probably not have been watered for some time. So you must rehydrate them. Fill a bucket with tepid water (room temperature) or you could fill a kitchen sink with water instead. Trim the base of each stem so that there is a fresh raw surface ready to suck up the clean water. Place the cut flowers into the bucket (or sink) so that the entire stem is submerged and the flower heads rest on top of the water. They should be left like this for a minimum of half an hour and up to two hours depending on their condition.
After having a good drink, the flowers and stem will be refreshed and be in a better state to last in your home. Gently lift each stem individually from the water shaking off the excess and then arrange them in your vase. The video below shows how a professional florist carries out this task.
How to Keep Cut Flowers Fresh
After-Care of Vase Water is Important
Change the vase water regularly to make your flowers last longer. Remember to renew the plant food (or your home-made equivalent) when you do this.
Flowers that have woody stems (for example roses and hydrangeas) last longest if you arrange them in a deep water vase. Flowers that have fleshy stems (for example tulips and daffodils) can do better if the water level is kept shallow as this prevents their stems rotting.
When you are arranging the flowers, the shorter you cut the stem, the longer the flowers will last as the heads don’t have as far to draw up the water.
Ideas For Arranging Flowers
Cut Flowers Affected by Temperature
Cut flowers are susceptible to changes in temperature. Avoid placing them in direct sunlight or near a source of heat. This will speed up the flowers ageing process and they will wilt and decay more quickly than in a cooler location. At night, it is often a good idea to move flower arrangements so that they are not left in a cold draught. In general, cut flowers do not like to be too hot or too cold.
Keep your cut flower arrangements away from bowls of fruit. As the fruit ripens a gas, ethylene, is given off. This causes blooms to ripen too and they deteriorate more quickly and die back as a result. With proper care and attention, a bouquet of flowers should last at least two weeks and often much longer. They look beautiful and the scented flower varieties also give a wonderful perfume to your home.
Do Flowers Cut Shorter Last Longer?
There is no evidence for shorter stems helping flowers last longer. However, cutting stems at an angle does help blooms stay fresh. A slanted cut means that a greater surface area of the stem comes into contact with the vase water. The plant is thus able to "drink" more easily.
After a few days, you can freshen the display by re-cutting the stems under water. This will revive the blooms for a few more days.