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Ways to Make Cut Flowers Last Longer

Rave Uno
There's nothing as picturesque as a vase of beautiful vibrant flowers on a table or as a centerpiece in a room. There are ways to make sure your blooms stay fresh and alive for more than just one or two days. Read on to learn some simple techniques for keeping your fresh flowers.
Flowers are those little colorful beacons of the sun from which we get sunshine when dark, somber skies blanket our thoughts ~ Dodinsky
You may be the gardening sort, growing plants and trees in your little patch of soil, watching them take root and grow and bloom. You may be the artistic sort, that like natural home décor pieces, flowers in a vase here and there.
You may have received a fresh beautiful bouquet of red roses or pink carnations and after sniffing them and oh-aa-ing in delight, are now wondering how to preserve them. Or you just like flowers and want to keep these little wonders and sprinkles of nature around your house.
There is a little more involved to keeping cut flowers fresh and lively, then just snipping them off and arranging them in a vase.

Steps to Make Cut Flowers Live Longer

To ensure a long cut flower life, some great ways to make cut flowers last longer are listed here. If your cut flowers are store-brought, then please skip ahead to the "steps to follow after cutting", as such flowers are cut in the proper way by the florist.

Steps to Follow Before Cutting

Cut them at the right time
Do not cut flowers at night. The plant is in a state of repose, its blooms are closing off and you will not get fresh flowers. Instead cut flowers in the early hours of the morning.
There should be dew on the plant. At such a time, the blooms are at their peak in terms of food and health. Another acceptable time is late afternoon, when the climate is cool.
Cut them the right way
  • Use the right tools like shears or a sharp knife.
  • Cut the flowers above a node or bud, so that the plant is encouraged to grow new blooms.
  • Roses, daffodils and irises should be cut as buds on the plant, so they will open and bloom after being cut.
  • Flowers such as marigold and delphiniums should be cut when they are open and blooming.
  • Cut the stem at a slant or angle, not a flat or straight cut. This sort of cut allows the stem to soak up more water and reduces air bubbles.
Care for them immediately after cutting
  • Remove leaves and thorns that will be submerged in water when arranged, keep only the top foliage intact.
  • Do not remove rose thorns, no matter where they are on the cut stem. Removing thorns shortens the cut flower's life.
  • Store the cut blooms in lukewarm water immediately. Do not use cold water.
  • With flowers grown from bulbs like tulips and daffodils, place the cut flowers in cold water.
Recut the cut stems
When the stems are cut away from the plant, air bubbles may form in them. This hampers the plant's ability to absorb water, so recutting of the stems is needed. To recut stems, submerge the cut flower's stem in water and make a 45° angle cut. Cut 3 inches off the stem. Then place the stem in the vase.
Roses have a different stem cutting style. The bottom of the stem should be smashed or crushed underwater. Then with a knife, make an upward split or cut. This style is used for woody stemmed flowers. Prior to arranging any cut flowers, you need to condition them. Place them in lukewarm water overnight. You can also store them in the fridge for 6 hours.

Steps to Follow After Cutting

Here are some tricks and tips for preserving flowers after they are cut and ready for display:
  • How to make cut flowers last longer? Firstly do not place cut flowers in a warm, humid location. This will cause the flowers to wilt and age.
  • Do not place flowers near open fruit or vegetables.
  • Place cut flowers in a cold, airy location, which is not too bright or in direct sunlight.
  • At night, keep your cut flowers in the coldest room in the house. This will help them last longer.
  • To make your flowers last longer, recut their stems by ½ or 1 inch every week. This gets rid of any air bubbles that may have collected.
  • Arrange your blooms in a glass vase, with plenty of space between the blooms. Avoid overcrowding a vase as lack of air encourages wilting.
  • Flowers like clean vases. Dirt in vases transfers bacteria to your flowers, causing them to wilt faster. Clean the vase once a week by washing them with hot water and soap and then rinsing well.
  • Remove dead flowers and foliage from the vase as they come.
  • Keep watering the flowers. Act as if they are still attached to the plant and change their water every 2 days.
  • You should get rid of the old water and put fresh lukewarm water in the vase. Do not top off the water in the vases.
  • Fresh water is the best way to make flowers last longer. For hyacinths, tulips and daffodils, use cold water to keep them fresh and beautiful.

Using Preservatives with Cut Flowers

Sometimes no matter what you do, your cut flowers just shrivel up and die. So certain substances can be added to the water in the vase they are stored in, to prevent the flowers from aging or wilting.
Given flower preservatives come from florists and old-wives tales. They may or may not work with your cut flowers, a little trial-and-error is required. Just make sure not to try them all at once!
  • 1-2 copper pennies
  • 1 aspirin
  • 1 tablespoon of sugar mixed with 1 quarter teaspoon of bleach
  • ¼ bleach per 1 liter of vase water
  • ¼ cup of 7-up or soda
  • 2-3 drops of lemon juice
  • Dabbing a little alum on the cut stem
  • Use a commercial floral preservative made of biocides, acidifiers and sugar
There's a limit to how much you can prolong a cut flower's life. So along with looking after your cut flowers, take care of the plant that grows the flowers, so you will keep getting fresh blooms and flowers to cut!