8 Tips to Make Cut Flowers Last Longer
By Suzanne Raga
A vase of fresh flowers in our home or office can instantly add some cheer. Unfortunately, most fresh cut flowers don’t last very long, and it can be a big bummer when your flowers start wilting and drooping after only a few days. Different types of flowers require different care, but here are eight general tips from florists to help extend the life of your cut flowers.
1. ADD WATER AND CHECK THE WATER LEVEL DAILY.
According to Brad Weinstein at Petals and Stems in Dallas, Texas, adding water to the vase is the best way to help flower arrangements stay fresh and last longer. “Remember that the more flowers in the arrangement, the need for water will increase,” says Weinstein. Since some types of cut flowers drink more water than others, make sure to check the water level daily, adding more as necessary.
2. TAP WATER IS FINE, BUT FILTERED WATER CAN BE BETTER.
According to Angela Floyd, the manager of French Florist in Los Angeles, California, feeding tap water to most cut flowers is sufficient. “Tap water is perfectly fine to use for flower arrangements, so don't feel like you need to feed them Evian!” says Floyd.
It makes sense to use filtered water rather than tap water, though, for certain types of plants that are known to live longer. For a prized plant such as a Phalaenopsis, or moth orchid, or a blooming plant like a Peace Lily, using filtered water “might be a worthwhile investment to help ensure your plant's flowers stay their freshest for as long as possible,” suggests Floyd.
3. CUT (AND RECUT) THE ENDS OF THE STEMS.
In order to make your flowers soak up the most water possible, you’ll need to cut the ends of the stems. Keep trimming them daily, when you change the water in the vase. “Once a flower is out of water for a few seconds the stems dries up, so it needs to be recut to take in the water,” explains Weinstein.
To get the best cut, use sharp scissors and cut the bottom-most inch off the stems at an angle rather than straight across. Doing so, as Floyd explains, will give more surface area to the stem's tip, which will help the flower to better access the water. And consider cutting the stems under water (rather than in the air) to avoid giving your flowers an air embolism, which can interfere with their ability to suck in water.
4. USE THE PACKET OF FLOWER FOOD…
If your bouquet of flowers came with a small packet (usually square), don’t toss it in the trash! Packets of powdered flower food can help nourish your flowers, making them last longer. Most flower food contains sugar (nutrients), an acidifier (to maintain the water’s pH level and help the stems soak up water), and bleach (to reduce bacteria in the water). Rather than dump in the whole packet at once, sprinkle it in in moderation. “Packets of flower food that you receive with your flowers can be added a little at a time when you change the water,” says Floyd.
5. …OR MAKE YOUR OWN CONCOCTION.
If you don't have flower food, you can easily make your own by mixing water with sugar, lemon or lime juice, and household bleach. These three ingredients will nourish your flowers, keep their stems open, and kill bacteria that could prematurely age them.
6. STERILIZE THE VASE.
When it comes to flowers, cleanliness matters. “A clean vase filled with fresh water is the best way to keep your flowers fresh,” explains Floyd. Before putting flowers in a vase, you can disinfect the vase with bleach and water. Simple soap and water should work, too, but use bleach if you want to be extra careful.
7. CHOOSE WHERE TO PUT YOUR FLOWERS WISELY.
If flowers get too warm, they’ll wilt a lot faster. Weinstein says that the best practice is to keep your flower arrangement in a cool environment, away from direct sunlight, heater vents, and entry doors.
Flower company FTD featured an experiment in a post on the company’s blog, which showed that putting flowers in the refrigerator overnight helped to keep the flowers alive for a longer time. So if you can fit your flowers in the refrigerator, the cold temperature will help preserve them.
8. STICK WITH THE BASICS—AND IGNORE OLD WIVES’ TALES.
People have experimented with different ways to keep flowers fresh longer. Putting certain items such as aspirin, pennies, vodka, soda, and mouthwash in the vase can reportedly help flowers last longer. Although some of these ideas have a basis in chemistry, most experiments show (and florists agree) that following steps 1-7 will give your flowers the best chance to stay alive for a long time.