Seven Simple Tips to Make Cut Flowers & Bouquets Last Longer

Flowers can last. A well-cared-for two week old arrangement just beginning to show signs of age.
Flowers can last. A well-cared-for two week old arrangement just beginning to show signs of age.

Make Flowers & Bouquets Last Longer with these Seven Simple Tips

In our flower shops when our flowers arrive from Holland the first thing we do is to prep them ready for display. Applying the same techniques to your bouquets and indeed flowers and foliages that you might source from your own garden will increase their vase life.

Cutting your Flowers.

Cut the the stems approximately one inch from the end. This fresh cut allows water to be more easily absorbed than an older cut. To increase the surface area cut the stem at at an angle – around 45 degrees. The larger the surface area of the cut, the greater the amount of water that can be absorbed. Avoid crushing or shredding the stems by using a very sharp knife or scissors. Finally remove any foliage that would be beneath the waterline of your vase.

Rest your Flowers.

If your flowers are freshly cut they should now be rested. Rest your flowers after cutting by placing their stems in cool water and leaving in a cool dark room. Leave them resting as long as you can – if possible up to about 24 hours.

Flower display in a hotel lobby - care and attention will make it look always at it's very best
Flower display in a hotel lobby – care and attention will make it look always at it’s very best

Water your Flowers.

Cut flowers like cool, clean water. For best results change the water in the vase regularly. The best way to change the water is to place your vase in a sink with the flowers still in it. This allows you change the water without disturbing the arrangement or having to reset it afterwards. Let the fresh water flow very gently into the vase allowing it to overflow until all the old water it is fully replaced. Avoid using very cold or indeed hot water.

Keep your Flowers Clean.

There’s nothing like bacteria growth in vase water to reduce the life of your flowers. Tap water is alkaline which bacteria like –  add an acidifying agent such as lemon juice or vinegar. Doing this which will slow bacteria growth.

When we design arrangements for event or for display in offices and hotels we often add Milton tablets or a very small splash of bleach to vase water. This helps to keep bacteria growth to a minimum. It has the added effect of keeping vase water clear making flower arrangements in glass vases look at their best.

Professional care tips will make your flowers last longer at home.
Professional care tips will make your flowers last longer at home.

Feed your Flowers.

Flower bouquets from quality florists are usually accompanied by flower food. This should be added to your vase water. If you don’t have flower food you can substitute with small quantities of sugar or lemonade.

Troubleshooting Flower Problems.

If you find your blooms drooping or flopping a useful fix is to sear the stems. To sear the stems cut them as described above and simply place their ends in boiling water. How long to immerse them will depend on the type of stem. Delicate stems such as Hyacinths and Tulips will only require a few seconds. Sturdier stems like Roses and Hydrangea will require about 30 seconds with tough woody stems needing up to a minute.

It’s best to experiment with the immersion length but do err on the side of caution as too long in hot water will turn the stems to mush. Steam can damage flowerheads and foliage so if searing the stems mask the rest of the flower with with old newspaper.

Where to Place your Flowers.

Now that you’ve made sure your vase and water are clean and that your flowers are conditioned the final tip is where to place them. Cut flowers prefer a coolish atmosphere. They last longer when not exposure to heat or direct sunlight – so in a typical house, the hall might be a better place than the kitchen or the living room window sill. Keep them away from computers, televisions and other sources of direct heat.

Replacing wilted stems will add new life to a flower display.
Replacing wilted stems will add new life to a flower display.

Replacing Flowers.

Some flowers and foliage will age faster than others even under the very best of conditions. To get more out of your bouquet remove anything that is showing signs of aging. You can re-arrange your bouquet making a smaller version of the original or replace some of the wilting items with newer foliage and flowers.

Following these tips will help insure you get the very most from your flowers – enjoy.

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