Knowing how to keep flowers fresh longer will help you preserve their beauty. Whether you receive a bouquet for Mother’s Day (lucky you!), bought yourself a bunch, or cut flowers from the garden, these tips on keeping flowers fresh will help them last.
There’s nothing like fresh flowers to brighten up your home, especially in the middle of winter when outside is a dreary landscape of gray skies and bare trees. Even home gardeners with prolific flower beds don’t want their blooms fading before their time.
These tips to keep cut flowers fresh are easy to follow and can prolong a bouquet’s life significantly.
How To Keep Flowers Fresh
There’s more to keeping bouquets from dying quickly than simply stuffing them into a vase. Cut flowers have entirely different needs than they did while living outdoors on the plant. Tend them properly following these steps.
1. Trim Stems Daily
In the vase, flower stems take up water to keep the blooms hydrated. Bacteria that are always present in water combine with the vegetation decay in the vase. When combination gets too great, it blocks this capillary system so the stems can’t absorb water at all.
Trimming the stems ensures their bottoms aren’t blocked so they can continue providing water to the blossoms and keep your flowers looking fresh longer.
How to Trim Fresh Flower Stems
- Use a sharp, clean knife or pair of scissors.
- Trim around 1 inch of the flower stems every day.
- Do this under running water to keep an air bubble from forming in the stem.
- Cut on a diagonal to maximize the surface area available to take up water.
2. Change the Water Daily
Completely changing the water in the vase will also reduce bacteria growth, especially if you take the time to clean the vase before refilling it.
Refill with cool water: warm water encourages the blooming process and will shorten the life of your bouquet.
Should You Add Anything to the Flower Vase?
There are many ideas about what to add to your bouquet’s water, from aspirin to bleach or even a copper penny. (Good luck finding one: pennies have been made of mostly zinc since 1982.)
Even the packet that comes with your bouquet can cause problems because it feeds the flowers but does little to stop bacterial growth. (Florists are in the business to sell you more flowers, so this isn’t terribly surprising.)
Homemade Cut Flower Food
Stir the following into 8 ounces of fresh water daily to make flowers last longer in the vase. The sugar feeds the flowers while the vinegar controls bacterial growth.
- 2 tablespoons white sugar
- 1 tablespoon vinegar (white or apple cider)
Since flowers only draw water from the base of their stems, and you’re adding a fresh solution daily, you don’t need to worry about doubling this.
3. Trim Greenery Below the Water Line
Trimming the stems by one inch daily will obviously lower the bouquet. Over time, the greenery that was at the top of the vase will get closer to the waterline.
- Removing any leaves or greenery below the waterline helps keep bacterial growth under control.
- Do this while you’re trimming the stems, using the same sharp, clean knife or scissors.
- Cut the leaves close to the stem without nicking it.
- Also, do this with decorative floral inserts like fern leaves or baby’s breath.
3. Shade Helps Keep Cut Flowers Fresh Longer
Bright sun prompts speeds up bacterial growth. Sunlight can also fade flowers quickly, especially if your arrangement features florist-dyed blooms like carnations. Keep this in mind when deciding where to display your flowers.
If you’re going to display your bouquet on a windowsill, make sure to use a sheer curtain or move it when the sun hits the glass directly. Also, avoid locations near heat registers or appliances that give off heat like ovens and the top of refrigerators. For the same reason, keep bouquets out of bathrooms where you take steamy showers or baths.
4. Chill Overnight
Florists have large coolers to hold their inventory for a good reason: cold temperatures keep flowers fresh longer. You can mimic this treatment by tucking your bouquet into the refrigerator before you go to bed at night. There’s no need to cover them — just stash the vase where it won’t spill.