How To Prolong The Life Of Cut Flowers In Your Vases

The specific care in that will prolong the vase life of flowers is always a concern for most homemakers. There is more to keeping flowers fresh than filling the vase with flowers.

Flowers and flower arrangements always add color and beautify our rooms and homes. How to make the life of the cut flowers arranged in a vase last longer has always been a common concern and problem to many of us. The moment the flowers are cut from the main plant, they become very perishable. However, we spend a lot of time, effort and money in having them. So we want to make our cut flowers last on the vases as long as possible. Although the life of cut flowers also depend on the variety of the blooms, this article outlines the basic procedures, hints and tips for you to enjoy the freshness of your flower arrangements for as long as possible.

The first step in making sure that the cut flowers last longer in a vase starts in the selection of the flowers itself. Whether your flowers are bought from your favorite florist or picked from your own garden, it is important to choose the right bloom and not just pick any flower that you see in sight. The flowers should be full of life, the stems should be clean and the leaves must be unbroken and free from insects or diseases. The flowers should have healthy leaves. Always remember that flowers with healthy leaves means healthy plants as well.

If you are buying flowers from the florist, there is no way for you to know how long ago the flowers have been picked. Not only that, it may have travelled and changed hands between the grower, the wholesaler and finally the retailer. Needles to say, these people take the most care possible in order to prolong the vase life of these flowers. But we all know that there is a limit to what they can do.

So as a consumer, what can you do to pick the freshest flower possible fron the store ?

First, choose the right day to buy your flowers. Know what day of the week and the time that your favorite florist or flower shop receive their shipments. Once you know this, plan to buy the flowers on the day that they arrive. This way, you are sure that you get the freshest flowers possible. Here is another hint. Supermarkets and flower shops normally reduce the prices of unsold flowers remaining from the previous shipment. So, you can immediately tell that they are no longer very fresh. Naturally, the vase life of these flowers on discount will be shorter.

If you use your own flowers from your garden, it is of course easier to choose the freshest flower you can get. However, when cutting flowers from your garden, the right timing is important. Never pick flowers in your garden in the heat of the day. As flowers get exposed more and more in the sun, they loose their perkiness because of dehydration. The best time to harvest your flowers from the garden is early in the morning. Flowers are filled with moisture from the dew at this time and have cooled from the nighttime temperature. Always choose the flowers at the stage when they are just breaking into bloom. One important hint when harvesting flowers in your garden is to carry a pail of water with you. Put the flowers into the pail of water as fast as you cut them.

Here are the basic procedures for longer lasting flowers in a vase :

Use a sharp knife or shears to re-cut at least ½ inch from the stem of the cut flowers to expose a fresh surface. Remember to always re-cut the stems diagonally under water. Freshly cut stems absorb water freely. Re-cutting them diagonally avoids crushing of the stems, prevents the stems from resting on the bottom of the vase, and allows the stems to absorb the water for the nourishment of the cut flowers.

Remove excess foliage or leaves from the stems of your flowers. Excessive foliage or leaves that are exposed to the air increases water loss of the flowers. On the other hand, excess leaves submerged in the water decay and speeds up the decline of the life of the cut flowers because of microbial growth.

Wash your vases with soap and water before arranging your cut flowers. Bacteria can multiply and clog the water conducting tubes of the stems of your flowers which will cause the flowers to wilt.

Use warm water in your vases ( about 100-110°F or 38-40°C temperature). Warm water flows through the stems more freely and faster than cold water. Another hint to add life to your cut flowers : Let your flowers stay in tepid water (lukewarm not hot) about 20 minutes before arranging them.

Also take note that contaminated or dirty water, water with high fluoride or salt content hastens the decay of the flowers in your vases. Therefore, using distilled or filtered water is a consideration.

Use flower preservatives on your arranged flowers. Flowers are living organisms,

therefore, they need food. Preservatives help in nutrient and water intake to your

arranged flowers, at the same time, prevent bacteria and fungi growth. When the

water in your vases become cloudy, provide a fresh soiution.

Arranged flowers from florists or shops come with these preservative formulas. However, if you run out or if your flowers were handpicked from the garden, a homemade solution is a good alternative.

Here is an easy to make homemade flower preservative solution that is effective in adding life to your arranged flowers :

2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice or white vinegar

1 tablespoon of sugar

½ teaspoon household chlorine bleach mxed with 1 quart of water

Lemon juice and vinegar are both acids and most fertizers are acids. The acid will

kill the bacteria and is a natural source of fertilizers for flowers. On the other hand,

sugar replaces the sugar that the plant normally produces during photosynthesis

when in a green house or outdoors. Even though the leaves and the flowers in your

vases may still be producing sugar, the low light indoor sis not suitable for normal


Do not place your arranged flowers in direct sunlight, on top of a television, heated

places and areas in the house where there is draft or moving air. Aging of flowers become rapid in high temperature and will cause the flowers to dry. This is because the warm or moving air removes the water from the flowers faster than they can absorb water through their stems.

Do not mix old aging flowers with fresh ones. Also, never put your freshly arranged

flowers near fresh fruits and vegetables. Aging flowers and fresh fruits and vegetables produce ethylene gas that shortens flower life.

Flower arrangements are art forms and ike most art forms, we would like to enjoy it as long as we can.


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Maria Cecilia de Guzman
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