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Fresh-cut flowers can instantly brighten up a home or office space. Their vibrant colors and lovely fragrances bring joy. However, that beauty is fleeting as flowers start to wilt within days or even hours after being cut. Preserving your floral arrangements for as long as possible ensures you can enjoy those pops of color for a maximized duration. With some simple preparation and care, it is possible to double or even triple the lifespan of cut blooms. Follow these tips to make your flowers last longer.
Start With Quality Blooms
High-quality flowers will always last longer than buds that are already partially open or leaves that are damaged. Examine bouquets carefully before purchasing, and look for tightly closed buds without discoloration or signs of wilting. Also, pay attention to the stems—they should be sturdy, not bendable.
Woody-stemmed flowers like roses and chrysanthemums live longer than hollow-stemmed blooms, which are more prone to bacterial growth. Purchase from a reputable florist or grower like The Wild Rose and ask when the flowers were cut. The general rule is that the more recently they were cut, the longer the vase life.
Once home, you’ll want to recut stems to ensure maximum water flow and intake. Use a sharp blade or garden shears to trim each stem at a 45-degree diagonal angle. This creates a larger surface area for stems to absorb water. Remove all leaves and foliage that would sit below the water line in your vase, as leaving them on promotes bacterial growth, which shortens vase life. Check for any parts of stems that are crushed or split, and remove those sections.
For woody stems like roses and fruit trees, it’s best to crush or split the ends slightly to allow more water uptake since their thick stems do not absorb water easily. Meanwhile, when you have birthday flowers delivered, be sure to recut the stems upon arrival to maximize their water intake and prolong their life.
Clean And Fill Vases
Dirty vases full of bacteria are a Recipe for Disaster when it comes to cut flowers. Wash vases thoroughly in hot, soapy water and allow them to fully dry before using. Scrub inside the vessel with a bottle brush to remove any grime or film. Soak vases periodically in a bleach solution (1 teaspoon bleach per 1 quart water) to sanitize them. Just be sure to rinse thoroughly before adding flowers. Stay away from narrow-necked vases, which make it difficult to recut stems later.
Fill clean vases with room temperature water—cold water can shock flower stems, while hot water encourages faster bacterial growth. Before placing blooms in the vase, add floral preservatives if available. These contain carbohydrates that serve as plant food as well as anti-bacterial agents to prolong vase life. Change water (and recut stems) every 2-3 days for best results.
Provide Proper Care
Once arranged in a vase, flowers need the right care for longevity. Display floral bouquets out of direct sunlight to prevent overheating. Keep them away from heating and AC vents as well, which can blast flowers with hot or cold air. Try moving arrangements to a cooler spot overnight, as refrigeration prolongs vase life.
Check water levels daily and top off with fresh water as needed. Recutting stems every 2-3 days removes any clogged sections and refreshes the flowers. Twist ties can also pinch, and block stems, so remove or loosen these.
To discourage bacterial growth, add two tablespoons of bleach or a few drops of lemon juice to the water. These create unfriendly environments for microbes. Mist your flowers occasionally with water to boost humidity around the blooms.
Just avoid getting water directly on the petals, as this can promote rot. Rotate arrangements so all sides benefit from equal water uptake. Finally, keep flowers away from ripening fruit, which gives off ethylene gas that accelerates ripening and floral wilting.
Choose Long-Lasting Varieties
Some floral varieties simply live longer than others when cut. Opt for sturdy flowers like carnations, alstroemeria, chrysanthemums, roses, solidago, gerbera daisies, lisianthus, statice, waxflower, lavender, stock, snapdragons, zinnias and greenery like eucalyptus. Stay away from more delicate, short-lived blooms like sweet peas, narcissus, tulips, lilies, hyacinths, delphiniums, poppies, and Stephanotis. If you love tulips and lilies, enjoy them for a day or two, then replace them with hardier flowers.
More Tips For Specific Blooms
When it comes to extending the lifespan of bouquet blooms, certain flower varieties have their own special needs. Follow these extra pointers to help specific stems last.
- Roses: Remove any thorns along the bottom 2 inches of stems, which can damage other flowers. Recut roses underwater to prevent air bubbles from blocking stems. Add a capful of bleach to rose water to combat microbes.
- Iris: Suspend in water, so just the lower half of stems make contact as leaves will rot if fully submerged.
- Daffodils: These release sap that shortens the life of other flowers. Keep them in a separate vase.
- Tulips: Wrap stems tightly with rubber bands early on to discourage uplifting of blooms. Keep tulips upright and out of drafts.
- Peonies: Wrap the bumpy part of a peony stem with tape or string to keep stems straight in the vase.
- Lilies: Remove pollen-coated anthers inside blooms, which drop pollen that shortens vase life.
- Dahlias: Cut stems frequently as they tend to seal over at the ends, blocking water flow. Add floral food to water.
Targeted tips for proper care can help you maximize the show of your favorite floral varieties. With the right touch, each beautiful bloom can stay its best.
With the proper selection, care, and handling, it is possible to double or triple the natural lifespan of your cut floral arrangements. Follow these guidelines for long-lasting blooms that you can enjoy admiring for many more days to come. Your efforts will be rewarded with bouquets that remain fresher, brighter, and more beautiful over an extended period of time. Nothing perks up a living space quite like a vase full of vibrant flowers. With just a little TLC, that fresh-picked garden beauty can persist, so your home decor feels revitalized for as long as possible.
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