First Steps to Take with Fresh Cut Flowers
There are a few things you should do right away when you bring freshly cut flowers home or receive them as a gift that will help them keep longer. Select an appropriate, clean vase that is the right size and height for the bouquet. Don’t cram a large bouquet into a small-necked vase, and don’t leave a thin-stemmed bouquet adrift in a wide jar. All the stems should be supported evenly by the vase, and the height should match the stem length so that no flowers are stuffed into the mouth of the container.
Strip off any low-hanging foliage that might float below the water line of the vase. This will help prevent rot and keep the water clean.
Finally, before placing them in the vase, use sharp shears or scissors to cut an inch or two of each stem off at the bottom. Cut diagonally so the amount of fresh cut is at a wide angle, and don’t crush the stems; make a clean cut.
Where to Place Your Fresh Flowers
The things that will contribute most to spoiling your cut flowers are heat and light. Of course, fresh flowers look lovely in the sunlight, but try to choose a location for the flowers that is in indirect sun or shade, and is not subject to heat. The microwave, TV and other appliances are poor locations for a bouquet to keep well.
Choose a cool location instead. A temperature range between 65 and 73 degrees Fahrenheit is best for cut flowers. Keep an eye on air circulation as well. An airy space is good, but don’t place flowers directly above or below heating or cooling vents or ceiling fans, as this will subject them to drying out more quickly.
How to Feed and Water Your Fresh Flowers
Supply your flowers with a flower food mixed into their water. This will keep blossoms and foliage lively longer, as they take up nutrients from the food. Mix the food into the water before adding it to the vase, and don’t dilute the food beyond what its packet specifies – usually either a pint or a quart of water.
Flower food and water mixtures can become cloudy; if this happens, remove the flowers and mix a fresh solution for them. Always use lukewarm water at about room temperature, not a hot or icy cold water, to reduce the stress on the flowers.
Extending the Life of Your Fresh Flowers
Most fresh flowers will last at least a week indoors, and ongoing care may coax them to last even longer. Keep the water fresh and clear, changing it as often as needed, and adding more flower food with fresh water.
After two or three days, remove the flowers, rinse the stems, and make a fresh diagonal cut on the stems as you did before. Put them back in new water after rinsing out the vase as well. Remove any leaves that fall or droop into the water, as these will encourage bacterial and fungal growth that will contribute to the bouquet’s spoilage.
Want to learn more about keeping cut flowers fresh?
Check out these Web sites chosen by us for more information on the subject.
Learn tips on cut flower care from the Society of American Florists.
The University of Minnesota’s horticulture extension offers the science behind helping fresh flowers stay good longer.
Kim Slotterback-Hoyum is a Michigan-based freelance writer. She has been a proofreader, writer, reporter and editor at monthly, weekly and daily publications for five years. She has a Bachelor of Science in writing and minor in journalism from Northern Michigan University. Besides writing, her interests include gardening, traveling and reading.