There’s nothing quite like fresh flowers in your home. They help to brighten the mood and, in some cases, transform how your home feels. Bright blooms give you energy.
Keeping them in good condition, though, isn’t always easy. Flowers, like other natural produce, don’t last long. From the moment the local florist cuts them, they begin to lose life.
Fortunately, there is a lot that you can do to keep flowers fresh. In this in-depth and educational post, we explain what you need to do to make them last and why.
Step 1: Clean Your Vase
The first step is to clean your vase. Vases you’ve used before may harbor bacteria that cause your flowers to wilt faster. Germs travel through the water and then infiltrate cut stems (which are equivalent to open wounds) and pass into the plant itself. Once they get inside, they begin to multiply, draining the cutting of energy, causing premature wilting and discoloration.
Before you insert any flowers, clean your vase with natural products such as water and vinegar. Remove any residue or dirt from the bottom.
Step 2: Fill The Vase With Lukewarm Water And Add Flower Food
Flowers don’t come with roots (something would be impractical or impossible depending on the species), so they need help getting the nutrients that they need to thrive.
Start by filling your newly-cleaned vase about two-thirds full with lukewarm water. Then add flower food according to the instructions. Most fresh flower bouquets come with a small sachet that you can use.
Warming the water slightly helps the flower food to dissolve. Once in a solution, it can then passively osmose into the flowers’ stems, providing them with the nutrients that they need.
Step 3: Cut The Stems At An Angle
Next, cut the stems. Most florists cut horizontally through the stems to make flowers easier to store and transport. But once you get them home, it is good practice to cut them diagonally. This increases the surface area available to absorb nutrients once submerged in water. It also prevents the stems from sitting flat at the bottom of the vase which can impede water uptake.
You should retrim stems every few days. That’s because flowers will create a seal over the cut section – a bit like a scab – that stops them from absorbing water. If you decide to retrim, remember to change the water, especially if it looks cloudy or murky.
Step 4: Remove Foliage That Will Sit Below The Water Line
Debris can build up in your vase if you insert stems with foliage below the water line. Leaves will typically fall off and then begin to break down which is not only unattractive, but can also attract germs. So trim these first before placing your flowers in the vase.
Step 5: Remove Guard Petals
You may notice that some of your flowers have discolored outer petals. Florists and horticulturalists call these “guard petals” as they are a feature that flowers use to protect their inner buds. So long as your flowers are in a safe environment (and not exposed to insects or the weather) you can remove these by hand.
Typically, flowers have two or three guard petals. More than that indicates a problem with the plant. They are common on roses, but many other flowers have them too.
Step 6: Place Your Flowers In The Vase
The next step is to place your flowers in the vase. Try to make sure that each flower has plenty of support with the lip of the vase close to the flower head. This will prevent gravity from pulling flowers over as they weaken with age. If your vase is too short, then you may need to cut your stems. Don’t allow flowers to protrude more than a third of their length from the top of the vase.
Step 7: Change The Water Regularly
Flowers love clean water because they are highly susceptible to bacterial infection. Therefore, it is good practice to change the water in the vase every two to three days.
Flowers will drink a lot of the water that you give them. But even if they don’t use all of it, you should still change it, especially if you are planning on retrimming the stems.
Changing the water also helps to keep your displays fresh. You avoid that rotten smell that can sometimes develop which ruins the freshness of your bouquet.
Step 8: Keep Flowers Out Of Direct Sunlight
Flowers can thrive in direct sunlight when attached to their roots. But cut bouquets can struggle. Because flowers don’t have access to extensive root systems, they can’t bolster their defenses. UV light can actually damage flowers and cause high production of free radicals.Therefore, sun-exposed flowers tend to lose their luster faster. Always store your flowers out of the sun.
You should also keep your flowers away from:
- Extractor fans
- Sources of heat
- Fresh fruits and vegetables
You should also keep freshly-cut flowers in cool conditions and away from drafts. Don’t place them next to radiators as this may shorten their lives.
Also, do not place them close to your fruit bowl. Fruits can emit ethylene gas which damages the surface of flowers, causing them to deteriorate faster.
Step 9: Remove Any Wilted Flowers
After several days, you will notice that some of the flowers begin to wilt. If so, remove the wilted flowers from the vase. This will help to protect the rest of your bouquet and keep it healthy. Wilted flowers can transmit mold to the rest of the bouquet.
With the right approach, you should be able to get your bouquet to last at least seven days. While wrapped presentation bouquets from your local flower shop look great, you should transfer the flowers to a fresh vase as soon as you can.