7 Tips to Keep Cut Flowers Fresher for Longer

Who doesn't love receiving a bouquet of flowers from the florist's shop, or sprigs of freshly cut blossoms from the garden? Real flowers add fragrance and calm charm to indoor settings; as decorations they are cheap and easy to maintain.

Though they won't stay fresh forever, there are tricks to keeping the blooms in good shape for a couple of weeks before they start to wilt. Here are seven simple techniques to keep cut flowers fresher longer.

Change their water daily. You wouldn't want to drink the murky vase water yourself, and neither do your plants. Microbes multiply rapidly inside the vase and when their levels get high enough they will choke your flowers. Every morning, pour out the old water and refill the vase with fresh water to keep bacteria and fungi in check.

Don't over-stock the vase. A good rule of thumb is to use at least 1 cup of water for every 16 inches of stem. For example, one quart of water can support 8 daisies that have 8 inch stems. (The equivalent ratio in metric units is 0.25 liters of water for every 43 cm of stem.) If your flowers have large blossoms, you should allow even more water.

Keep the stems short and cut the bottom of the stem on a slant so that more of the stem base is exposed to the water. Shorter stems transport water faster, and slant-cutting helps the flower absorb more water than if the bottoms are cut at right angles.

Remove leaves from the submerged part of the stem but leave thorns on the stems of roses. Flower leaves quickly decompose and rot under water, making the water unhealthy for the plants.

Use the packet of food/preservative that comes with store-bought flowers, or make your own vase water additive. The food/preservative packet contains sugar, which serves as food for the plants, and a mild fungicide, which keeps bacteria and mold at bay. Here are some recipes for homemade preservative solutions:
  • 1 cup carbonated lemon-lime soda (non-diet) + 1/2 teaspoon chlorine bleach + 3 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lemon/lime juice + 1 teaspoon sugar + 1/2 teaspoon chlorine bleach + 4 cups water
  • 1 tablespoon Listerine mouthwash + 4 cups water
  • 1 aspirin tablet + 1 copper penny + 4 cups water

Keep flowers in a cool, shaded area. Heat and direct sunlight will cause cut flowers to wilt faster.

Keep your freshly cut flowers away from ripening fruits and vegetables. Ripening fruits give off ethylene gas, the "death hormone" that causes plants to mature faster. The ethylene receptors in your flowers will respond to the ripening fruit by wilting faster.

© Had2Know 2010