Beautiful Bouquets

By Sharon Naylor

February 24, 2017 5 min read

As your garden and planter flowers bloom throughout the season, you'll surely want to bring some of those blooms inside your home as cut flowers included in floral arrangements or as solo blooms standing pretty in bud vases. And you'll certainly want to help those gorgeous flowers last as long as possible, looking bright and fresh for more than a day. In some cases, you'll want your floral centerpiece to look fresh just throughout your dinner or party, and even that can be a challenge with certain types of garden flowers, such as hydrangeas, which seem to wilt all too soon.

So to avoid droopy, curled-petal or crispy flowers, you can take some easy steps to extend the life of your cut blooms. Here are some easy actions to take each time you plan to cut flowers from your garden, trees or planters for indoor display:

--Prep your vase before you cut any fresh flowers. Start by cleaning your vase thoroughly with warm soapy water, and rinse all traces of the soap or any gunk, dried-on leaves or other materials from the most recent time the vase held flowers. You don't want any foreign substances or bacteria in your vase, because they would speed up the decomposition of your freshly cut blooms. Clean your cutting tool, as well, to keep bacteria and decay-speeding materials away from your flowers.

--Add cool water to your vase to your choice of water height. This is important to note because you will soon strip away all branches or leaves from the stems of your cut flowers so that none will be submerged once the flowers are placed in the vase. Any leaves or branches in the water would decompose quickly, shortening the life of your flowers.

--Decide on a floral life-preserving additive for your vase water. Because you will cut your flowers from your garden, you probably won't have access to one of those little rectangular packets of flower food that usually come with store-bought cut bouquets. You can purchase at a garden center a container of cut flower food (some specifically for roses and some for general flowers) to use according to product package instructions. Alternatively, you could choose to crush an aspirin and add it to the vase water. Aspirin is a popular life extender for cut flowers. You may have heard of some other tricks, such as adding cider vinegar and sugar or adding a touch of bleach, and recent floral blogger trials have shown these additions to be mildly effective in adding a day or two to your bouquet flowers' freshness. Far easier would be to just keep the vase water clean and replaced every day to inhibit bacterial growth, according to Georgianne Vinicombe, owner of Monday Morning Flower and Balloon Co., as well as keeping your floral arrangement away from heat sources, which can speed up decay.

--Strip the bottom leaves and branches from each of your cut flowers using a flower-stripping tool from the garden center (although a pair of very sharp scissors will do). Again, any submerged flora would encourage rot.

--Insert each flower stem in your vase of water one by one so that you can use a sharp cutting tool or scissors to cut the bottom of each stem away while it's in the water. When a cut stem is exposed to air, it reduces the stem's ability to absorb and transfer water up to the flower. If your vase is narrow, keep a cool water-filled bucket next to your vase to ensure easy underwater cutting and the quick transfer of each cut stem. More than a few seconds of air exposure hurts a flower's water retention ability.

--When your flowers are inserted in your vase, place the vase in a cool location away from direct sunlight, according to the experts at the garden blog The Flower Expert. Heat shortens the life of cut garden flowers.

--An effective way to extend the life of your cut floral bouquet or arrangement is to place it in your refrigerator overnight, much like the way flowers are stored in floral shops. The cool air helps prevent rot.

--Each morning, change out the water in your vase, which is often enough to keep your flowers fresher and healthier, and consider re-cutting the bottom of each stem to provide a new path of water absorption.

With careful care of the flowers you cut from your garden or planters, you can keep lovely floral color, texture and scent in your home all season long and avoid paying high prices for flowers at a store.

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