Keeping Cut Flowers Fresh

Flowers will last a long time in the garden, yet they seem to fade quickly once they have been cut. But there are ways you can help them last a little longer after you bring them indoors.

When you first receive your gift flowers, plunk them into water right away, and then go look for a vase. Once you’ve found the perfect container to show them off, you will need to make a fresh cut on the stems. This will reopen the capillaries and allow water to be pulled upward to the blossom. Make the cut at a sharp angle to provide more surface area to absorb the water. This important step should be done as soon as possible after receiving the flowers. When you lift the flower to put it into the vase, a drop of water will adhere to the freshly cut stem and prevent air from coming into contact with the exposed capillaries.

Have you ever received roses from the florist and had the heads droop over within a day? The roses had been cut too green (too early) and that when the buds are too tight, they won’t take up water. So if this ever happens to you, call the florist and have him deliver some new ones. Flowers are expensive, and you deserve the best.

If you want to try to rejuvenate the roses yourself, recut the stems, then submerge the whole flower, buds and all, in a tub of water (a bathtub will do). Leave them there, lying flat, about one hour. Within that time, the roses should revive and harden.

Once you’ve got your flowers settled in, you can concentrate on keeping them happy. Keep your flowers away from direct sunlight, heater vents, drafts (doors that are in constant use and air vents), and heat sources (TV, hot lights, and heat ducts). All of these can dehydrate your flowers. If your flowers are delivered to an office, make sure you bring them home with you for the week end. Many offices turn off the air conditioner for the weekend, and your flowers will fry in the warm, dry air.

You will also want to add a floral preservative to the water. My favorite, all-time-best floral preservative is one part lemon lime soda to three parts water. The sugar from the soda makes the flowers think they’re still connected to the plant. The lemon/lime acts as a fungicide and prevents scum from growing in the water. The water is the carrier for the solution. You can also add a drop of bleach to the solution, but I don’t like the odor. Change the solution daily, making a fresh cut to the stems, and your flowers will last a long time. This mix works wonders on roses, carnations, and other tough-stem flowers.

Tulips are truly happy with an ounce of vodka in their water. The vodka seems to stiffen up the tulips and makes them last a lot longer. If you can, place them in a cool spot or even in the refrigerator when you are not enjoying them. The cool air will prolong their bloom and keep them from drying out. If the tulips start bending and turning toward a light source, all you need to do is to wrap them firmly in a cone of newspaper. Set the freshly cut stem end into water and let them stand for an hour or so. They should stiffen up like little soldiers and regain their former posture. This works well for all soft-stemmed bulb flowers.

And remember, nothing at all for zinnias except plain, cool water. They don’t like to be pampered, I guess.

Check List

  • Make a fresh cut to the stems when you put them in a vase or change the water.
  • Use a floral preservative to prolong their life.
  • Keep cut flowers in a cool place.