Amazingly simple tricks that keep your flower arrangements alive for longer in a vase — and in blooming health!
BY NABANITA DUTT
Flowers are such a precious gift to give and receive, and we’re always trying to take as much joy as we can from a fresh bouquet of flowers because we know they will not be around for long.
The dying process for a flower begins from the very moment a stem is cut, but there are many ways to delay the inevitable. Try some of the safety measures listed below to keep cut flowers fresh for longer in a vase. You’ll also find several super-easy ways to supply nutrients, keep the water clean and stop growth of bacteria.
1) Buy your flowers from a busy florist
If you’re buying flowers for a party at home or to gift somebody, try to choose a really busy florist. That way, you won’t be selecting a less-than-fresh bunch because the shop has a lot of customers, and therefore the flowers have a higher probability of being fresh.
2) Keep stems moist while bringing home
Don’t wait to put the flowers in water after you bring them home. Ask your florist to wrap each stem in wet paper towel before you take them out of the shop.
3) Trim the stems for a fresh cut
Though florists keep flowers watered, the ends of the stems could be dried out and therefore unable to absorb enough water. Always re-cut the ends yourself – at a 45 degree angle – before placing in water.
4) The trimming is best done underwater
Hold the stems under a flowing tap while cutting, to prevent air from leaking in. Also, it does sounds like a lot of chore, but regularly trimming the end is very beneficial to the health and longevity of your flower arrangement.
5) Take leaves off the bottom of stems
Before you put the flowers in water, make sure to take off all the leaves that will be submerged. It will help keep the water clear and not require frequent changing.
6) Always use a clean vase
Don’t just pick out an empty vase from the shelf and fill it with water. Make sure that you wash it again with soap and warm water to remove any invisible bacterial agent lingering inside that can flourish when water and flowers stems are introduced.
7) Keep your flower arrangement cool
Flowers stay fresh in cooler temperatures, so try to avoid direct sunlight or sources of heat like fireplaces and heat vents. If the weather is really hot, slip a cube of ice in the vase. Your flowers will surely thank you for the relief!
8) Add clear sodas like 7-Up or Sprite
Non-diet clear sodas help cut flower stay fresh for longer. Add about ½ cup of soda to the water in the vase, and enjoy your blooms for several extra days.
9) Spritz your blooms with hair spray
Aim the nozzle of your hair spray bottle upwards, and – very lightly — spray the bouquet from the bottom, catching the underside of the petals and leaves from a little distance away.
10) Add apple cider vinegar and sugar
Mix apple cider vinegar and sugar in equal parts and fill ¼ of the vase with it. Top up with water. Remember to empty the vase and pour in a new mix every few days.
11) Add vodka to the water in the vase
Just a teaspoon of vodka in the water will kill bacteria and keep the cut flowers healthier for longer. If you don’t have vodka, use any clear spirit instead.
12) Add bleach to the water in the vase
Keep this proportion in mind: ¼ teaspoon of bleach for 1 liter of water. Mix in this ratio and then pour into the vase. The growth of bacteria will be inhibited by the bleach, and your bouquet will stay fresh and healthy.
13) Drop a penny in the water
This sounds like an old wives tale, but a copper penny actually helps in keeping cut flowers in good condition. The copper acts as an acidifier and restricts bacteria.
14) Add mouthwash in the vase
Mouthwash works like an antiseptic, and pouring a capful of Listerine will keep your flowers healthy. (Except that the minty scent might overpower the blooms’ own sweet perfume…)
6 TYPES OF FLOWERS THAT HAVE THE LONGEST `VASE LIFE’
♦ ♦ ♦ ORCHIDS
The royal orchid comes in several colors and their vase life can be anywhere between 14 to 21 days. Overall, stems of orchids will have a longer vase life than single blooms. Also, petals that are thick and waxy to touch stand a better chance of staying fresh in the vase for a longer period of time. If they seem a little wilted when they arrive, submerge the blooms in warm water for a few seconds.
DIY ORCHID ARRANGEMENTS: Need fresh inspirational ideas? Follow this link.
♦ ♦ ♦ ROSES
Average vase life of a rose is between 7-10 days. The longevity of rose stems has a lot to do with their variety. Crystalline, Red Intuition, Elizabeth Taylor and Moonstone, for example, bloom for an extended period of time after being cut.
Add `flower foods’ and preservatives like Floralife to the vase water, change it every day, and give the stems a fresh cut – underwater – to maintain health and hydration. When the blooms have dried up, collect the petals and use around the house as pot pourri.
DIY POTPOURRI RECIPE: Learn how to make your own scented potpourri here.
♦ ♦ ♦ LILIES
When looked after, cut lilies can last for weeks. Prep the lilies as soon as you receive them by removing the pollen pods. These pods affect the vase life considerably because the pollen destroys certain parts of the flowers, making them die sooner.
HOW TO REMOVE LILY POLLEN STAINS: Pollen from lilies isn’t just harmful for the flowers, it leaves horrible stains on whatever it touches. Here is a quick video that will show you how to remove lily pollen stains from carpets and upholstery, should you happen to have a staining accident.
♦ ♦ ♦ CHRYSANTHEMUMS
Cut chrysanthemums can remain fresh in the vase for as long as a month! The stems need re-trimming daily, so start your flower arrangement with long stems in the vase. Chrysanthemums release large amounts of ethylene in the air, which is damaging to many other plants. Make sure you arrange chrysanthemums on their own.
MAKE A HEALING CHRYSANTHEMUM TEA: A tea brewed with chrysanthemums is a reliable healing drink to help cure many ailments such as cold, dry throat and certain skin problems. Make your own chrysanthemum tea with the directions here.
♦ ♦ ♦ CARNATIONS
The vase life of cut carnations is approximately 14-21 days. The flowers should be re-conditioned – that means, trimming the stems, changing the water and adding nutrients – every couple of days. White carnation has an amazing ability to change colors, and that phenomena can be fully enjoyed at home by infusing safe food coloring in the water. The stem soaks up the dye and as a result, the blooms turn into your chosen color.
MAKE A CARNATION BALL CENTERPIECE: Make a carnation `ball’ centerpiece for your next dinner party. Find the directions here.
♦ ♦ ♦ GLADIOLAS
With proper care, cut gladiolas can stay healthy for about 2 weeks. Keep in a cool, dark place for a few hours first to harden off the flowers. Remove drooping blooms as that will re-energize the stem and keep the other blooms in better health. The flowers grow from bottom up, so `bald patches’ from where you have plucked out one will not be evident. Remember that gladiolas are very sensitive to fluoride as they cause damage to petals. The preservative-enriched vase water should always be non-fluoridated.
ARRANGE GLADIOLAS WITH MARTHA: Watch Martha Stewart create an attractive gladiola arrangement in a few simple steps here.
3 ATTRACTIVE WAYS TO BOUQUET WRAP YOUR CUT FLOWERS
If the bunch of cut flowers you have selected is not for your own home but for a gift, we have a wonderful selection of DIY cut flower wrapping ideas to make the blooms look like a luxury, florist’s offering.
As anybody who’s ever received a bunch of flowers knows, the wrapping makes a huge impact on the bouquet’s overall visual appeal. So let’s look at 3 different ways you can dress up your chosen flowers the next time, and make it a very memorable, personalized gift. (1) WRAPPED IN NOTEPAPER (2) WRAPPED WITH RIBBON (3) WRAPPED IN `NAMED’ PAPER