Help your fresh flowers last longer with these tips – updated for May 2021. It’s finally lilac season in Denver and I am in my element. I have a few tips to share that will help your lilacs live more than 5 minutes – hooray! Added to that good news, I found some other great ideas to extend the life of any flower bouquet. If you’ve got a bouquet on the table, or perhaps you want to snip a few peonies, tulips, or irises from the yard, here are some tips to help your fresh flowers last longer.
Supplies You’ll Need:
heavy duty scissors
bleach (if using)
reusable smoothie straws
Fresh Flowers Last Longer with Sharply Cut Stems
I bet we all know this tip, but it’s important to cut the stems every other day to help flowers absorb water. Sharply cut 1-2 inches off the flower stems, at an angle. You should also change the water when you do this. These are probably the two best steps to take to keep your blooms fresh.
I will also add, use the right tool for the job. Depending on the thickness of the stem, you might need heavy-duty scissors or pruning shears. Or maybe you prefer a knife. These are the tools I use.
Remove any Leaves That Will be Submerged
Submerged leaves will decay underwater, releasing bacteria that can clog flower stems and prevent water absorption. Be sure to cut those off first.
Mix a Solution of Bleach + Sugar to Perk Up Blooms
This tip comes from a friend, whose sister-in-law owns a local florist shop. Mix a TINY bit of bleach with sugar and a quart of water. We Googled it and found a recipe for 3 drops of bleach + 1 tablespoon of sugar + 1 quart (or liter) of water. If you try this, let me know how it works out! Sorry to tell you, I will not be trying this one; I avoid bleach because I always ruin my clothes when I attempt to use it.
Mix a Solution of Vinegar + Sugar to Keep Flowers Fresh
Here’s another recipe to help fresh flowers last longer. Mix together 2 tablespoons of sugar, 2 tablespoons of white vinegar, and 1 quart of warm water. Place your sharply cut flower stems in the vase and arrange them to your liking. I made this concoction for this pretty stem on Saturday and it’s doing pretty well.
Use Smoothie Straws to Support Gerbera Daisies
When I buy a bouquet with Gerbera daisies, I run the stems through wide smoothie straws to provide extra support. Without that structure, the flower heads are so heavy that they flop over at the top of the step and only live for a few days. Here’s a shot of my Mother’s Day bouquet 7 days later with most of the daisies still alive. These are the same flowers as pictured above in this post, but by now, the lilies have also opened. You can see the smoothie straws from this angle.
Tips to Help Lilacs Last Longer
Thanks to a great post from The Grit and Polish, I’ve learned some extra tips to keep cut lilacs alive. In addition to everything I listed above, try these tricks on your lilacs:
– First, snip into the stem 1-2 inches, to help them absorb extra water.
– Next, place the lilacs (in water) in a dark room for a few hours. I’m not sure why this works, but it seems to make a difference!
Also, don’t cut lilacs prematurely; I’ve noticed that when I cut a lilac stem that is nearly in full bloom, the last few buds will open in the vase. Try not to cut them before 80-90% of the buds have opened.
I tried all of these tricks on a fresh bloom 5 days ago, and it’s still hanging on. I’ve never had freshly cut lilacs last this long in a vase. Call it a May miracle! Check it out:
Keep Flowers Away from Fruit or Veggies
If you let fruits or veggies ripen on the counter, be sure to place your vase of flowers somewhere else. Ripening produce releases ethylene, which will also ripen your flowers prematurely. Perhaps not all produce releases ethylene, but the list of foods that do is quite long, so this is a good rule of thumb.
Tips for Other Specific Flowers
Tulips – These are thirsty flowers; top off the water or change out for fresh water every day or two. Keep flowers in a cool place and even drop an ice cube in the water to keep it cool.
Daffodils – I love these harbingers of spring, but daffodils don’t play well with others. They release a substance that is harmful to other flowers, so watch out if you plan to mix blooms in a vase. Martha Stewart says you can soak the stems in cool water overnight to release some of it, but it sounds like daffodils should just be in their own container.
Peonies – These blooms can last quite a while with good care. One tip is to cut or buy them when the flowers are still in bud form. If the buds feel soft to the touch, they are ready to bloom and will hopefully last a little longer in the vase.
This is an interesting experiment, comparing how different household items lengthen or shorten the lifespan of cut flowers. In this test, all of the roses received flower food and one additional treatment. The best result was actually not from an additive, but from spending each night in the fridge! If you have room in your fridge for a bouquet, that’s probably worth a try. Overall winners: fridge, soda, vodka. The losers: hairspray, apple cider vinegar+sugar. Click here to read more about it.
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