One of the most common requests for "every occasion" flowers are for blooms with a long-lasting vase life. While I would like to make an argument for why it's important to appreciate and cherish all flowers regardless of their vase life, I will save that for another blog post.
Keep reading to learn tips and tricks you can use to take care of your cut flowers to lengthen their vase life, as well as which blooms will last longer in arrangements.
Water is the most important thing for cut flowers. It's their lifeline, and is the most commonly overlooked reason flowers die quickly. Just like you, flowers prefer cool, clean water. Read that again. Cool and clean water.
Just like any fresh goods, once cut from the plant flowers begin to decompose. This decomposition causes bacteria to build as the stems sit in the water. To keep your flowers fresh longer, you should always strip away any leaves, needles, or buds that are low on the stem of the flower, as well as give your arrangement fresh, cool water every two days or whenever the water turns murky. Whichever comes first.
Flowers absorb water through more than just their stem. Similar to your skin, flowers like a comfortably humid environment to keep their petals and leaves perky and smooth. To keep your cut flowers lasting longer, mist them daily with cool water. This applies to plants and fresh winter wreaths too!
Bonus tip: Hydrangeas absorb a significant amount of water through their petals and leaves. If yours are looking a little wilty and misting them isn't helping, try soaking them upside down (petals submerged) in a bucket of water for 20 minutes!
While most people know to trim their flowers before putting them in a vase, many are unaware of how to do it most effectively.
The stem of the flower is its drinking straw. When you give a flower a fresh cut, that drinking straw has a nice, clear opening to suck water through. Over time, the cut will become calloused and scabbed over, making it more difficult for the cut flower to drink up water. Give your flowers a clean, diagonal cut with sharp scissors or shears every time you change the water. A diagonal cut is important, as it creates a larger opening for their “drinking straw”.
Bonus tip: Extra thick or woody stems benefit from two cuts on the stem- one cut diagonally, and a second cut vertically and perpendicular to your first cut.
Not too hot, not too cold. Cut flowers like it just right. While it may be beautiful and idyllic to put a vase of fresh cut flowers in your west facing kitchen window to flitter in the afternoon summer breeze, know that any intense heat will significantly shorten the life of your flowers. Keep your flowers away from hot windows or heating vents for the longest vase life.
Conversely, freezing temperatures will also significantly shorten their life. Since the cells of flowers are mostly water, if they reach freezing temperatures for even a brief moment, crystals will form in their cells, and rupture them. You will know that your flowers got too cold if they take on a translucent appearance with soggy feeling stems.
Bonus tip: While it may seem tempting, do not put your flowers in your fridge. Some fresh veggies and fruits produce higher rates of ethylene, also known as the ripening hormone. Ethylene will make your flowers "ripen" (aka decompose) faster. So unless your fridge is completely empty, don't risk it.
Looking for flower recommendations? Click here to see some of my favorite options for hardy cut flowers. Have additional tips or tricks you'd like to share? Add them to the comments!