Keeping fresh-cut flowers in your home has been proven to help brighten your day, enhance your mood and has even been correlated with lower blood pressure. Whether you choose to purchase a bouquet from a local farmer’s market or bring in flowers from your own yard or garden, you’re going to want to do your best to keep them vibrant and beautiful for as long as possible. While there is no preventing their inevitable wilting and demise, these five steps will prolong the life of cut flowers for up to a week, sometimes more, if you are really on top of your game.
1. Trim the stems
It may seem like all that trimming is just to create an even and lovely looking bouquet, but there is actually sound science behind it. The vascular system in the stem of flowers is used to water uptake. When the cut ends of the stems are allowed to dry out, it seals off the veins, often trapping in air bubbles as well. These air bubbles can prevent the water from getting where the flower needs it. The best way to trim stems is under cool running water to prevent any air bubbles from forming, and then placing them in a vase with fresh water immediately.
2. Only use cool water
Never use warm or hot water to fill a vase. Like the plants we eat, hot water will also cook the stems of flowers. Cooked flower stems is a recipe for imminent flower death. If you’re trying to get a bouquet to open more quickly, putting warm water in a vase will help speed the process but it will also shorten their shelf life – pun entirely intended.
3. Change the water every two to three days
If you have ever had a vase of flowers in your house, you know the water can start to get a little funky in just a couple of days. To prevent this, be sure to trim any leaves on the lower portions of the stems before you put them in the vase, especially any part that will be submerged in the water. Extra foliage will rot and turn your flower water into swamp water quickly. Go ahead and trim the stems again when you are refreshing the water, to help the flow of water through the stem.
4. Use flower food (recipe below)
When you buy flowers from a florist, farmer’s market, or even your local grocery store, they often come with the nebulous packet of “flower food”. It is usually odorless, colorless and seemingly holds powers of preternatural flower life extension. But there is really nothing magical about it. This simple mixture provides a small amount of food for the flowers, helps regulate the pH of the water and aids in water uptake. You should add flower food each time you change the water in your vase or container.
5. Keep them in a cool part of the house
Flowers are delicate, this is a given, but many people do not realize that temperature control is vital to keeping cut flowers fresher, longer. Avoid keeping your cut flowers in direct sunlight, under a heating vent or near the stove and oven. The hotter the surrounding air, the sooner you will have wilted flowers slumped over and looking sad.
DIY Flower Food
1/4 tsp. vodka or gin
1 tablet 500 mg vitamin C (crushed)
Pinch organic sugar
Mix together ingredients and add to 1 or 1-1/2 cups of water. Repeat whenever water is refreshed.