How to keep fresh-cut flowers alive and healthy for longer

Business Insider US

  • Fresh flowers are the perfect way to brighten up any space, from a spray of colourful blooms on your coffee table to a fresh-from-the-ground bouquet in the kitchen.
  • But the longevity of flowers can be cut short by bacteria, fungi, and dehydration.
  • Most cut flowers can last anywhere from 7-12 days if properly cared for, there are lots of easy ways and simple tricks to make your bouquets last longer, using common household items.
  • Here are the best, pro-tested methods recommended for keeping your flowers alive, and all the materials and tools you need to do it.
  • For more go to Business Insider.

Everybody loves fresh flowers. They bring colour and life to your space, they smell lovely, and they add a finishing touch to any room. Plus, if you give or get them as a gift, they remind everyone of a happy occasion like a birthday, anniversary, or holiday. Good vibes all around, right?

So how can you make them last as long as possible? There are lots of theories, tricks, and tips out there, from my mom's opinion that a few tablespoons of sugar and vinegar always stretch the life of a bloom, to a suggestion made by the experts at ProFlowers that putting your bouquet in the fridge every night will increase its longevity.

First, keep in mind that some flowers naturally last longer than others. Roses, lilies, freesia, daisies, and sunflowers tend to stay fresher for longer. Blooms that are notorious for wilting after only a few days include hyacinths, lilacs, daffodils, ranunculus, and tulips.

We researched all the ways to make your buds last longer in their vases, and break down what you need, how to do it and which methods work best.

How to prepare your flowers for the vase

Experts at Urban Stems and other florist shops suggest you follow these five flower care tips:

  1. Cut the stems: Before you put those roses in water, trim 1-2 inches off the end of each steam. Garden shears are best for this task, but kitchen scissors or a sharp, clean knife will also do. Cut at an angle which allows the stems to take in water more easily since they aren't resting flat against the bottom of the vase. Experts suggest you retrim your blooms every few days.
  2. Prune extra leaves: It's important to remove any leaves that will fall below the water line to prevent bacterial growth. Check your flowers daily to remove dead leaves and petals. This is especially important in mixed bouquets which have multiple types of flowers that may have different blooming times.
  3. Pick the best vase: This may seem obvious to some people, but it really does make a difference. Just because the florist hands you a bunch of peonies on long stems doesn't mean they should be put in a tall vase. Bigger, heavier blooms should be cut short and put in a low vase where they can support each other when they open, or have room to spread out, while lighter, more delicate flowers can be kept in a taller vase. Make sure you are not crowding the vase either; when in doubt you can always make two bouquets out of one.
  4. Change the water every few days: Start with a clean vase and fill it with room temperature water. When you add ingredients to the water, make sure they are completely mixed and dissolved before you place the flowers. Change the water and clean the vase every few days (you can re-trim the stems whenever you change the water).
  5. Avoid these flower foes: Flowers will last longer in a cooler room and if you keep them out of direct sunlight. Avoid placing them near appliances that generate high or low temperatures like the stove, air conditioner, ceiling fans and even your computer or TV. Open windows will also cause them to dehydrate more quickly, and keep them away from fresh fruit which releases tiny amounts of gas that can cut the lifespan of your blossoms.

How to make your flowers last longer with additives

  • Flower food packet: The pre-mixed flower food that comes in the little packet when you buy flowers is universally agreed to be the best overall method for keeping flowers alive. It works because it's the perfect mix of the three essential things flowers need; carbohydrates (sugars), biocides (cleansing agents) and acidifiers. These three ingredients promote cell metabolism, combat bacteria and adjust the pH of water to increase water uptake. Experts recommend adding a new packet to your vase whenever you change the water, but if you run out of packets, try this recipe for homemade flower food: 1 teaspoon sugar, 1 teaspoon bleach, 2 teaspoons lemon or lime juice mixed into 1 quart of water.
  • Refrigerator: Although you might not expect it given that we're told to keep the flowers away from cold spots, experts and testers unanimously agree that this method will keep your buds fresher for longer, if you remember to do it every night.
  • Cooldrink: Maybe you didn't know your hydrangeas had a sweet tooth? Mix a ¼ cup of soda into the water and watch how your blooms stay perky with a sugary beverage, just like a kid with a can of Sprite. In fact, that's the type of soda experts recommend, since a coloured drink will turn the water cloudy.
  • Vodka: Happy hour for your flowers is officially a real thing; add a few drops of vodka to your vase water to keep those posies partying for days. What you're actually doing here is slowing the wilting of your blooms through the alcohol's ability to decrease ethylene production, the ripening gas that makes plants mature.
  • Aspirin: Keep your daisies from drooping by crushing an aspirin tablet and mixing it into your water. The common pain-reliever can lower the pH level in the water, which helps it travel through the stem faster to keep your flowers fresher, longer.
  • Bleach: If bleach fights bacteria on floors and countertops, it only makes sense that it will kill the nasties in your vase water too. This method may be the trickiest since too much bleach is bad for your blossoms. Experts suggest just a ¼ teaspoon of bleach for 1 liter of water and adding a bit of soda or vinegar for an acidic element which will help the water flow through your flowers.
  • Coins: The copper in coins, especially pennies, has acidic properties which also fight bacteria growing in your water and on your flowers. Just one penny on the bottom of the vase will help your tulips open up, but some testers do suggest you add a crushed aspirin to lower pH levels and increase water flow.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar and sugar (plus a little bleach): The jury's still out on this one (sorry mom), but the idea here is that you're mimicking the flower food, with the sugar for nutrients and the vinegar to acidify the water. The most common recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and ½ teaspoon bleach for a quart vase. And if this method doesn't work for your flowers, there are lots of other things you can do with a little ACV.

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