Whether you have grown and cut your own flowers from the garden, or if you have been given a lovely bouquet of flowers from a friend or loved one, keeping them fresh for as long as you can is important. Remember that cut flowers have been removed from their source of food and water and without the root system keeping them alive they will wilt quickly if you don’t place them in water. Air actually moves into the water conducting cells of the stems and this is why any flower that has been out of water for a while should have a small part of its lower stem cut off so water can move up the stem freely when placed back in water again. You can – if you wish – make cuts while the stem is under water (cut the stem under running water from a tap) to ensure no air makes it up the stem.
Commercial preservatives will lengthen the life of cut flowers and it should always be used. The old wives tale of adding some coins, wine or aspirin to the water will not make the flowers last longer. A commercial floral preservative is a very complex mix of microorganisms, acidifiers and inhibitors, to help serve as a source of energy and make up for the loss of functioning leaves to help ensure the longevity of your flowers.
The most important part of a floral preservative is the microorganism growth inhibitor – with fungi and bacteria ready to enter the cut surface of the stem and multiply. To help the floral preservative slow down the spread of bacteria and fungi always clean the container or vase properly and remove all leaves that are below the water surface as they will quickly deteriorate. Using a floral preservative and keeping water clean and up to date are two of the major factors that will help keep your flowers lasting for longer.
To keep your flowers fresher – keep them away from heat and cold such as heaters or cold drafts. Check the water level of your vase daily and top up with water and preservative as needed. Never store flowers and fruits together – apples actually produce a gas – ethylene that is hormone like and it causes ageing in flowers. If you are going to be away from home consider moving your flowers into the coldest spot in the house or even move them into your refrigerator, this will slow down respiration, water loss and development.
Using a clean vase, checking water daily and changing when needed (ideally, water should be changed daily), recutting the stems and removing leaves, using a floral preservative and avoid having the flowers in a hot spot or cool draft will help keep your flowers looking their best for as long as possible.
Related Information about Caring for Cut Flowers
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The basics of flower care to prolong the life of cut flowers.
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Cut Flower Care
Tips from the Brooklyn Botanic Garden about caring for cut flowers.