Keeping Flowers Fresher, Longer

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Everyone loves a bouquet of fresh flowers, but those lovely blooms never seem to last very long, dying off before their time. If this is keeping you from the joy of purchasing a bouquet or picking your own blooms to brighten your table, get out that vase and make way for the flowers. With a little preparation and some easy after-care, your vase full of blooming beauties will brighten many of your days, if not weeks.

Choosing the Best Blooms

If you're picking your own fresh bouquet, harvest the flowers in the early morning or after the heat of the day has passed for freshest blooms. Whether you're picking your own or buying a bouquet, look for roses, irises, daffodils, and gladiolus that are tightly closed or just about to open for longer blooming time. Most other flowers can be picked or purchased already in bloom.

When arranging the flowers yourself, submerge the entire flower in a sink full of water that's been conditioned. Soak for thirty minutes so the entire flower, including the bloom, is hydrated. You can buy commercial water conditioner or you can make your own by using a cap of bleach, a tablespoon of vinegar, and two tablespoons of sugar per gallon of water.

If you can't get your bouquet into water quickly, you can store in the flower in the refrigerator. For tropical blooms, store in a cool area of about 12°C (55°F).

Water Preparation

The water in your vase should be warm, because flowers will absorb warm water quicker, enabling them to stay fresher longer. If you've received your bouquet from a florist, they'll include a packet of preservative to pour into the water. The preservative includes a food source for the flowers as well as an antibacterial solution and an acidic solution. Bacteria are a primary reason flowers die off before their time. Flowers also prefer more acidic water (pH of 4.5). If you're cutting your own bouquet, you can make a preservative solution of your own. A splash of bleach, a splash of vinegar and a bit of sugar will do the trick.

Now For the Blooms

Before placing in a vase, you'll want to re-cut the stems and remove any foliage that will end up below the water line. As appealing as it might be, do not remove rose thorns, as the rose seems to wilt even faster with them gone. Use a sharp, non-serrated knife and slice an inch up the stems while holding them under water. The running water will keep air bubbles from forming inside the stem which keep the flowers from absorbing water. You'll want to make your slice on a diagonal to allow more stem area to come in contact with the water.

Finicky Flowers

There are blooms that are difficult and need special care to keep them beautiful. If you're a lover of daffodils and narcissi, you'll want to keep these bulb-beauties in a vase on their own: their sap is toxic to other flowers. Lillies and other blooms with prominent stamens are wonderful for bees, but the pollen they produce can stain your table linens and decrease the life of the flower. Trim the stamen with scissors will combat this problem.

A Little Care Every Day

There are some things you can do each day to keep your blooms fresh and vibrant for days to come.

  • Keep your bouquet out of direct sunlight.
  • Keep it away from ripening fruit and fungus, which gives off a gas called ethylene that causes flowers to deteriorate quicker.
  • To give your flowers a little refreshment, mist blooms with a spray bottle of fresh water.
  • Change the water at least every other day to preserve freshness. Stale water can accumulate bacteria, which will make your flowers wilt quicker.
  • If your flowers are looking poor, you can re-trim the stems under running water to freshen the drinking surface.

If you follow these tips, you can have beautiful flowers gracing your table every day!

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