Do you want to learn how to keep cut flowers fresh for longer? Here are several tips used by florists that will help you do that.
Offering flowers is one of the most common gestures through which a person communicates his emotions to another. It’s not always about love, but it can also symbolize gratitude, apologies, sympathy, or just to brighten someone’s day.
Although the flowers are offered both in pots or cut, the latter is the option chosen by most. Sadly, they may be the most expensive flowers, but if not properly cared for, they can wither quickly and end up in the trash.
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Unfortunately, many people do not know how to care for cut flowers to enjoy them more. With proper care, the period in which they stay fresh and retain their beauty can be greatly extended. Of course, this usually depends on the type of flower, when it was cut, the temperature it was held at, how long it stayed without water, and so on.
Keep in mind that a cut flower has been deprived of an essential organ for its health – the root.
In addition to supporting the plant, the root has essential roles such as taking water from the soil and nutrients and leading them to the stem. Without a root, a plant cannot survive indefinitely, but this period can be extended by offering alternative methods to replace some of its roles.
The way in which the flowers are treated from the cutting is essential in their resistance. Below are several tricks and tips from florists to prolong the life of cut flowers.
Keep in mind that these are general recommendations that are applicable for most species of flowers. There might be more specific approaches out there depending on the flowers’ type.
1. Delay The Wilting Process As Much As Possible
Obviously, this is something known by everyone. Any flower after it is cut must be put in water as soon as possible to limit the stress and the immediate effects of cutting, respectively wilting.
If someone offers you flowers at the office or in a place where you cannot prepare the flowers properly for the long stay in a vase, it is recommended to find as soon as possible a container of water in which to insert their cut stems.
Note that this is only a temporary solution just until you get home or where the flowers will find their permanent home till wilting.
If you already have the necessary time and tools, there are several steps you need to follow for achieving the best results, which you can read further in this article.
Also, try to find a cool place for them.
2. Remove The Packaging
Another step ignored by many is putting the flowers in a vase of water with the foil or packaging in which they come after purchase. It is true that sometimes this is very eye-catching and gives the bouquet a charming look. However, in the long run, it only has a negative effect on the plants.
Green plants breathe in carbon dioxide through tiny pores in their leaves and expel oxygen as part of the photosynthesis process (source). Even though it has been detached from the root, it is believed that a plant still produces photosynthesis for as long as it has leaves.
Therefore, when they are wrapped in a package that does not allow them to breathe, they are practically asphyxiated. At the same time, condensation occurs inside the package, favoring the appearance of rot and hastening the beginning of the decomposition process.
3. Remove Lower Leaves
Another thing you need to do is remove the leaves from the bottom of the stem. They do not bring any benefit if they are submerged in water. Instead, they will quickly start to rot.
At the same time, the leaves can be carriers of various bacteria, diseases, and microorganisms.
A gram of fresh plant leaf may harbor as many as a hundred million bacteria.elifesciences.org
Though it is not recommended to remove all leaves, only those that enter the water.
Also, it is better to cut them with a knife instead of tearing them with your fingers because you may cause unwanted wounds to the stem, through which bacteria can find a gateway into the plant.
4. Re-Cut The Stems
Another pretty important tip is to re-cut the bottom part of the stems of the flowers before you put them in the vase.
Flowers try to heal their wounds, but this also closes the channels through which they absorb water. This fresh cut will reopen those channels and allow the plant to receive the water it needs. Hence, the flower will last longer.
Do not cut much of the stems because you will have to repeat this operation every time you change the water. Remove about 2 cm from the tail.
It is also recommended that this cut be oblique (at an angle of about 45 degrees), not horizontal as this will provide a larger area through which the stem can absorb water.
Another thing to keep in mind is the tool you make the cut with. They should never be broken using your fingers, but only with a sharp knife or blade. It is not advisable to use scissors because they can crush the stem and thus prevent the absorption of water in the plant.
Many recommend performing this operation under a constant stream of water or by submerging the section that will be cut in the water. This will reduce the chances of bacteria on the surfaces reaching the new cut, will allow fresh water to enter the stem, and prevent the occurrences of any air pockets.
5. Clean The Vase Well
It is important to put the flowers in a clean vase or container.
Although straightforward, it is an essential step that must not be skipped in order to keep the cut flowers fresh for a prolonged period.
The recipient must be washed beforehand with detergent and rinsed thoroughly to remove dust, slime, and all bacteria that may be found inside it.
Also, there may be other small amounts of substances generated by the flowers placed in the vase before them if it has not been washed well after the last use.
It is also advisable to repeat this operation every time you change the water in the vase. With time, various bacteria types that favor the putrefaction process will develop in the container.
6. Change The Water Frequently
The longer the flowers stay in the same water, the more bacteria will develop in that environment. This will obviously speed up the process of stem rotting, followed by the release of an unpleasant odor when the water is not changed for a few days.
Therefore, you need to change the water daily or at least once every two days to increase the time the flowers stay fresh and keep their beauty.
Do not add more water than necessary in the vase because the plants will pull it through the cut at the base of the stem, and you need to change it frequently anyway.
Make sure the leaves at the base are not in the water.
7. Place The Flowers In The Right Place
Most choose to place the flower vase in the bedroom, or in the room where they spend the most time, out of the desire to enjoy their beauty for as long as possible.
Although I understand that desire perfectly, that is not the best idea, because that room is usually the place where the temperature is quite high.
In order for the cut flowers to last a long time, in addition to water, they also need the right temperature. Heat promotes the growth of bacteria. Therefore, it is recommended to place the flower vase in a cool area of your house.
Avoid placing flowers near a heat source (such as a radiator, fireplace, stove, etc.) or in a place where direct sun rays can reach the plants.
A cooler place like a lobby can be the perfect place to place them. Besides the fact that there will be a more suitable temperature, the halls are also places that we pass quite often, so we can enjoy the beauty of the flowers every time we pass by.
In addition, it is recommended to avoid places where you cook (such as the kitchen), with excessive moisture (the bathroom), where you smoke, or where are exposed to chemicals.
8. Apply Cut Flower Food Products
Another possible way to extend the life of cut flowers is by adding what it’s called a “cut flower food” or “cut flower preservative” in the water.
The purpose of most of these products is to increase the water absorption of the flowers, hence prolonging their lifespan. Obviously, not all are equally effective, and some have better results for certain species of flowers.
Always follow the manufacturer’s instructions, otherwise improper use of these products can do more harm than good. Also, their usage can change the recommended interval of water change.
9. Make Your Own Preservative Solution
There are many tricks and recipes on the internet about what to put in the water of cut flowers to extend their lifespan. These include things like:
- copper coins
- lemon juice
- hair spray
- apple cider vinegar
The role of these items would be either to feed the plants or to kill the bacteria that form in the water.
Over time it has been proven that some of these tricks are just myths or others can even do more harm than good.
However, sugar, citric acid, and bleach (which acts as a biocide) have been shown to have a beneficial effect and help the flowers last for a longer time if used in the right amounts.
There are even some recipes available on the internet to help you make your own preservative solution for cut flowers. Therefore, you can use these as an alternative to commercial products, not as an addition.
10. Keep The Flowers In The Refrigerator Overnight
Another trick used by florists to slow down the wilting process is to store cut flowers overnight in refrigerators.
Just as keeping the fruits and vegetables in the fridge helps you keep them fresh longer, the cold has the same effect on cut flowers. It is, in fact, one of the most effective techniques to increase the life of cut flowers.
Nobody will see them overnight, anyways.
Of course, this approach also comes with disadvantages because you will need a roomy refrigerator.
These are some of the most effective ways to extend the life of cut flowers. I hope that these tips were helpful, and the next time you receive flowers to enjoy their beauty for a prolonged time by following these steps.