Do you love arranging fresh flowers, but end up with a smelly, wilted mess after a few days?
In my house, it’s kind of like the shoemaker’s kids who don’t have shoes. Sometimes, I get behind in my watering… and that’s not good for a floral designer and garden writer.
My Houseplants Bounce Back, But Cut Flowers? never! They require daily care, which is why I’ve put together the following tips.
Next time you receive a beautiful bouquet or arrangement, try using the following tips diligently.
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When placed with care, the vases sparkle, smell sweet, and stay fresh the first day for a good five days. And, the best part is, only you know what subtle changes have gone into them to keep them that way!
They are here:
1. Hydration is important
While this seems obvious, I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve had a vase or two wither from neglect. If you don’t have time for a full meal, at least make your arrangements before you head out for the day.
And, when buying fresh bunches to bring home, keep two things in mind:
To minimize their time out of the water, pick them up after you’ve finished the rest of your shopping. Shake them off, and reject the petals that fall. Bring pruning equipment with you to the car and a bucket with about four inches of water in the bottom. Hold the flower stems under the water, and cut each 1/2 inch at a 45° angle. Throw away the cuttings, put your flowers in a bucket, and bring them home.
2. Clean stem equals clean water
No matter what size, color or type of arrangement you have, it is important to keep the liquid they are going to live in clean.
Removing stems with lower leaves does not contaminate the water.
Good florists cut the lower leaves off the stem so they don’t end up below the surface of the water, where they rot, discoloring the clear liquid. and smell. Be sure to do the same if you fill the vase with a bouquet from the market or an arrangement of foliage from your garden.
3. Take care of the temperature
For the most part, a cut floral arrangement does best in a cool spot in your home. Therefore, keep your sweetheart away from direct sunlight, heating sources and stoves.
Do you know that some plants are photophilous?
This means that they turn their heads to follow the sun.
Tulips are a great example. And what is even more amazing is that even after being cut, tulips keep on growing. They twist and pull with their own mind!
To counteract their wanderlust, rotate their container every day.
The exception to the general rule of keeping it cool is flowers that haven’t opened yet.
When I have roses or lilies with tight buds, I keep them in a warm spot until they open, and then move them to a cooler spot. If they’re in a mixed arrangement, I keep them in their own vase in a warm spot until they start to open, then return them to their original container.
Next, 4 and 5 go together. Trimming and changing the water is important to prevent hydration and decay-accelerating bacteria.
4. Trim Daily
Cut leaves keep well when the stems get a fresh cut each day.
For vase arrangement, simply lift the entire bouquet and hold the stem ends under running tap water. Using a sharp pair of pruners, cut 1/2 inch off the bottom of each stem. Hold your scissors at a 45° angle to maximize the surface area of the stem to remove the liquid.
Such a complex container arrangement is best refreshed with daily water changes and removal of decaying material.
It’s best to encase intricate container arrangements in florist’s foam. You can refresh the simpler ones by carefully removing individual stems, trimming as above, and gently pushing each stem into the foam brick.
5. Completely replace H2O every day
Utensils should be washed with a mild detergent and water, taking care to clean off any residue that can harbor bacteria.
If you have a packet of flower food, put it in a vase and add enough tap water to dissolve it. Return your trimmed bouquet to the clean vase. Water to a height just below the first leaves.
For a container with florist’s foam, tip it carefully to get the old water out. If the inside is accessible, wipe around it with a damp paper towel. Use a watering can to dissolve a packet of flower food in tap water and pour it into the container until the florist’s foam is completely saturated.
Chrysal Flower Food, 100 Packets
Do you decorate your home with garden flowers, or pick up the occasional bouquet from the farmers’ market? If your source doesn’t provide them (or if you need more!), there are packets of chrysal flower food available on Amazon.
Although the contents of these packets seem to be somewhat of an industry secret, they usually contain a combination of citric acid, sucrose, and powdered bleach.
6. Remove deadhead and rotting material
Different varieties of cut foliage regrow at different rates. Pay attention to signs of deterioration, and address them during your daily trim and water changes.
The daisies in this wildflower arrangement are starting to decline, and require deadheading or removal.
Deadhead blooms that are dropping petals, and prune leaves that are yellowing or wilting. Carefully pinch off the floppy outer rose petals to reveal tight inner folds.
If most of the bouquet is ready to be thrown away, whole stems can be removed from the vase arrangement, and the healthy remainder transferred to a smaller pot.
For containers with florist’s foam, removing entire stems can result in large gaps. Replace these with new ingredients, like the oh-so-versatile evergreens we’re often given for granted in our yards. Cut their stems at a 45° angle under running tap water before planting.
7. Spritz Container-less Foliage
Bulky flowers and foliage pieces that don’t belong in a vase or container also need some moisture to remain attractive. I often use a spirits bottle filled with water to moisten holiday evergreen swags, wreaths, garlands, and orchid garnishes.
beautiful flowers for every day
The next time you bring home a beautiful bunch of flowers, try these seven tips and you can feel good about making them last.
I love it when the doorbell rings, two hands make a wonderful arrangement, and I ask, “For me?” I know you do too.
Why not make fresh flowers a regular part of your indoor decor? This is a gorgeous option that’s fun to explore whether you’re decorating for a holiday, or want to add a touch of color to the dinner table.
An inexpensive way to do this is to grow them yourself. If you’re interested, see our article, “Grow Your Own Cut Flower Garden,” for tips on getting started.
Do you have any additional tips to share? Tell us in the comments section below.
Product photos via Chrysal Flower Food and Florilife. Uncredited photos: Shutterstock.