Introduction: How to Make Flowers Last Longer
So you received the most beautiful bouquet from someone who loves you dearly...except it only lasts for 3 days. The bouquet, that is. Not the love. The flowers that seemed to be so healthy and vibrant one day seem to sag before your very eyes the next; first wilting then drooping completely.
Make the love for the flowers last as long as possible with these simple yet effective tips that will have your thumb feeling green and your eyes seeing pretty.
Let's get started!
Step 1: Get Them Into Water FAST
Just because the flowers have been trimmed from their plant doesn't mean that they no longer require sustenance. Quite the contrary and regardless of type, flowers should be given a 'drink' of water as quickly after the pruners have done their job. Keeping flowers well hydrated is the number one way to prolong their life.
If you're interested in seeing how much water your flowers actually 'drink', mark the spot on your vase where the water line sits, and measure how much the water has decreased the next day. You may just be pleasantly surprised.
So what kind of water is the best? Distilled. (Check out my 'ible on how to distill water yourself) This type of water is ideal because it is absolutely void of anything that isn't pure H2O, so no chance of bacterial growth caused by the water. But hey, regular tap water won't kill your flowers...
Step 2: Vessel Prep
Flowers usually sit in glass vases, mason jars, or upcycled tin cans but whatever home you give your flowers, make sure it is a clean one! Bacteria is the greatest enemy flowers have, so thoroughly cleaning whatever vessel you choose with soap and hot water is important. This will lessen the possibility of fungal growth, infection and/or decay.
Along these lines, sitting water should be tossed out and freshly refilled on the daily to ensure the flowers aren't sitting in anything contaminated for too long. Warm water is better absorbed by the stems, but make sure it is by no means hot, as this could damage the plant.
Because the flowers have lost the nutrition they were receiving from soil, flower food is the readily available alternative that endeavors to compensate. The packets contain a disinfectant to prevent bacteria from growing. Simply tear open a packet and pour into fresh water. Ask your florist for a couple of additional packets so you can 'feed' your flowers with every water refill. You can also make your own version of these packets:
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp household chlorine bleach
mix in with the warm water in your vessel.
Step 3: Examine the Stems
Whether you receive them as a gift or buy them yourself, examine the stems as soon as you can. If the florist is a good one, they will provide every individual flower stem with a water vial. This ensures that the flower has enough to drink on transit.
However, if there are no vials, place a damp cloth around the base of the stems until you are able to get it into a vase/vessel. Because flowers only absorb water through the base of their stems and not through out the shaft, it is only important to keep the very tip as wet as possible.
Also, examine the stems to assess any damage. Hopefully, you'll spot this before you actually purchase the flower. Any nicks or bizarre bends could be fatal.
Step 4: Splitting Ends
The flowers photographed in this 'ible are none other than hydrangeas, my absolute favorite, albeit high maintenance, flower. Hydrangeas have a very thick stem, to the point of using gardening prunes to trim, mere sheers would do nothing. This is concerning, if you consider how much water is necessary to sustain such a large cluster of the smaller flowers that the hydrangea is made up of. The reason being because the stem's circumference, although thick, is still not suited to absorb the amount of water necessary to thrive outside of its original plant life.
For this reason, and for similar thick stemmed flowers, you can split the ends of the stem. This will increase the surface area allotted to absorbing water. Place in water immediately after splitting. I GENTLY used the back of a hammer to do this. Gently.
Step 5: Clipping Leaves
You want the least amount of stuff hanging around underneath the water level in your vase. This is because the presence of anything can add to the chances of bacterial growth in the water, which means sure premature death for your flowers. The simplest way to achieve this is to remove everything out of the vase inclusive of decoration such as stones/rocks etc. But you may not have considered removing any of the leaves that would potentially become submerged in the water. This does not mean stripping the entire stem bare, but rather keeping the leaves closer to the head of the flower and pruning the ones lower down.
Step 6: Misting
If your flowers seem to be wilting, that is sagging and looking lethargic, simply spray them with some water. This process is called misting, and you'll be surprised how well it works. For flowers such as my hydrangeas, they are able to actually absorb water through their leaves and pedals! Understandably and for the same reason, flowers thrive in humid (yet not hot) climates.
Step 7: Cool & Dark
Your flowers will have a much longer shelf-life if you place them in a cooler, darker areas. Remember that a cut flower's best friend is water, and lack of water or dehydration, is its worst enemy. Direct sunlight or uncomfortable heat will dehydrate your flowers tout suit.
Also, don't place your pretties near ripening fruit, as it releases tiny amounts of ethylene gas that can age them prematurely.
Step 8: Prepping for the Next Bunch
So you've read this 'ible and cannot wait to receive/buy your next bunch of flowers so you can apply all the tips! Here a couple more:
Save water vials if you have any so that you can place your flowers in water for transport. If you do not have any vials, moisten a paper towel or napkin and wrap the ends of the stems until you are able to get submerge them in vase. And always remember that your flowers should not be without water for more than about an hour without severely lessening their life expectancy.
Long live cut flowers!
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