It’s the busiest time of year for florists and by this evening the streets will be flooded with dutiful gentlemen carrying home paper-wrapped bouquets. If you’re lucky enough to score one of these bouquets — particularly if receiving flowers is as much of a rarity in your home as it is in mine — you’re going to want to try to preserve them for as long as possible. The key to extending their life is to keep them nourished with fresh water and food and to inhibit the growth of bacteria. So before you simply plop your pretty blooms into the nearest vase, here are eight tips to keep your flowers looking fresh longer.
1. Waste no time in getting your flowers into water. Flowers are alive and the minute they are cut from their plants, they need to be supported with fresh water. Even if it means temporarily placing them in the sink, put them in water as soon as possible.
2. Start with a clean vase. Don’t just give it a quick rinse, but be sure to give it a good scrub with hot soapy water and rinse it well afterwards. Vases that are reused over and over can harbour bacteria that may attack your fresh flowers.
3. Using heavy duty scissors, garden shears, or even a knife, cut about one-inch off of each stem at a 45-degree angle. This way the flowers won’t sit flat on the bottom of the vase, which can impede their water uptake. Do not use regular scissors as they may crush the stems, limiting their potential to absorb water and nutrients. What you want is a crisp, clean cut.
4. Cut the stems underwater so they don’t dry out. They will begin to absorb fresh water immediately.
4. Fill a vase two thirds of the way with lukewarm water. Flowers absorb water best at this temperature.
5. Treat your water with both a preservative, to kill any bacteria, and nutrients, to feed your flowers. You can use the store-bought flower preservatives that often come with flowers, or use some of these easy DIY preservatives.
Nutrients: A spoonful of sugar — this will act as the plant’s food long after the root supply has been cut off.
Anti-bacterial agents: An aspirin and a penny — the aspirin lowers the water’s pH level, warding off bacteria, and the penny acts as a fungicide.
Add a bit of vodka or bleach (be conservative with this option) — this will inhibit the growth of bacteria and purify the water.
6. Remove the leaves and foliage that will be submerged under water. These will start to decay over time and encourage the growth of bacteria that will attack the flowers.
7. Once you’ve arranged your flowers in the vase, keep your arrangement in a cool (but not freezing) space and away from heat sources to prolong their life.
8. Change the water in your vase often to get rid of any accumulating bacteria and provide fresh nutrients for the flowers. Repeat step 5 each time.
Following these steps should ensure that you are able to continue enjoying your flowers for at least a full week.