How to Care for Cut Flowers
Sure, flowers beautify your home. And they smell nice, too. But how can you keep them healthy, so that you don’t find yourself replacing them too frequently? Here are some tips from flower expert Amy Stewart, author of Flower Confidential.
- Buy flowers that have been kept under refrigeration. If they’ve been sitting out on the sidewalk or in buckets in the produce department, they’ve lost vase life. That doesn’t mean they have to be behind glass: some retailers have special air conditioners that keep the air right around the flowers cool.
- Ask your florist for a vase life guarantee. Most florists will replace flowers that don’t last at least five or seven days in the vase.
- Rehydrate roses and other sturdy flowers by plunging the entire flower and stem under cold water. One rose grower says that submerging roses in the bathtub for three hours will add two days’ vase life.Before you put flowers in a vase, make sure the vase is clean and fill it with water. Use sharp scissors or a knife to strip off leaves that will be underwater, then , then re-cut the stems and place immediately in water.
- Commercial flower food really will extend the vase life of flowers. You can buy it at craft stores, nurseries and flower shops, or online at www.floralife.com. If you don’t have any, use a pinch of sugar and a few drops of bleach.
- Keep the flowers in a cool spot out of direct sunlight and away from heater or air conditioner vents, which can dry flowers and cause them to wilt. In dry climates, spritzing the flowers with water may extend their life.
In summer months, consider tropical flowers that that naturally grow in warmer climates and last longer at higher temperatures. Examples include orchid, bird of paradise, protea, heliconia, or anthurium.
- Change the water, especially if it gets cloudy, and re-cut the stems every few days.
- In mixed bouquets, remove flowers when they start to wilt; they may give off ethylene, which could cause other flowers to wilt early, too.
- Tulips continue to grow in the vase, and it is natural for the stems to bend and curve. Lilies may drop ollen that can stain clothes; carefully remove the pollen-covered stamens and use sticky tape (never water!) to romove pollen from fabric.
And remember, buying sustainable flowers from a fair trade company helps to ensure that workers in Colombia and Ecuador (where most of our cut flowers come from) are paid a living wage and have a safe, chemical free workplace.
Originally Published: January 18, 2011