September 26, 2021

Help your flowers live longer: 10 ways to boost bouquet life

ANDERSON, Ind. — Cut flowers can last seven to 10 days if given proper care.

“We can use floral preservatives in our vases,” said Beth Vansickle, Purdue Extension educator in Madison County, during an educational webinar. “With arrangements, you’ll want to change the water frequently to keep it fresh and your flowers looking pretty. When you bring them straight from the garden, you want to make sure to put them in water right away.”

Make the most of your flower arrangement with advice from Purdue Extension educators:

1. Re-cut the flower stems using a sharp knife or shears. Remove at least one-half inch of stem to expose a fresh surface.

2. Use special methods to treat cut stems in special cases. A milky fluid flows from the stems of some flowers such as poinsettia, heliotrope, hollyhock, euphorbia and poppy. This fluid plugs the water conducting tubes of the stem. However, this problem can be avoided by placing about half inch of the stem in boiling water for 30 seconds, or by charring the end of the stem in a flame. Protect the flower tops from the heat by wrapping them with paper while you char or immerse the stems.

3. Remove excess foliage.

4. Use warm, uncontaminated water. Contaminated water, or water that is high in fluorides or salts, hastens the death of cut flowers.

5. Use a flower preservative in the water. Besides providing food, preservatives inhibit bacteria and fungi. They promote water and nutrient uptake. When the solution begins to get cloudy, which indicates the presence of microorganisms, it is time to provide fresh solution.

6. Wrap the flowers until they are crisp. After the flowers have been placed in warm water, wrap a piece of paper or plastic around them. This cover prevents the rapid air movement over the flowers and reduces water loss. Then, after the flowers become crisp — in about two hours — you may arrange them.

7. Wash the container with soap and water. To remove bacteria, wash containers after each use.

8. Avoid excessive heat or moving air. Do not place flowers in direct sunlight, over a radiator or on a television set.

9. Keep flowers cold when not in use. It is possible to double the life of your flowers by placing them in a cold room or in the refrigerator at night.

10. Do not mix fresh flowers with old or damaged flowers or with fruits or vegetables.

Erica Quinlan

Erica Quinlan

Field Editor