How To Make Flowers Last Longer: 7 Tips to Keep Fresh Blooms

Farm-fresh flowers are an easy way to brighten any day, but people often complain that they don’t last long enough. What most folks don’t know is that given the right care, flowers can work their magic for weeks. Yes, you read that correctly—farm-fresh cut flowers can last weeks under the right conditions! First, we’ll share some ineffective methods we’ve seen recommended. Then, we’ll offer seven tried-and-tested strategies that make flowers last longer. 

The timeless appeal of floral arrangements lies in the joy that living, vibrant blooms bring to any setting. But the appeal vanishes the minute flowers and foliage begin to look wilted. Creating visually spectacular floral displays is an art, but keeping them looking freshly picked is a science. You may have heard some myths about preserving floral freshness, but those are easy to disprove. Here are the myths and methods you need to know to keep your floral arrangements looking to-die-for rather than dying.

1. Disinfect the Water (but Hold the Booze)

Many sources suggest adding vodka to the water in your flower container, but in numerous field-tests, blooms didn't respond particularly well to having their punch spiked. Instead of adding alcohol, a small quantity of bleach—1/4 teaspoon per liter—can help prevent bacteria and fungus from attacking your flower stems. However, too much bleach can cause premature wilting and decline, so be sparing when using this trick.

2. Dish Up the 7-UP (but Skip the Copper Coins)

Believe it or not, in experiments, this soft drink has proven to be one of the most effective means of extending bloom life beyond the standard seven days. Of course, there's no brand that works best, Sprite and generic brands of the clear, bubbly sweet stuff are all reported to work equally well.

A slightly different recommendation is to toss a few copper coins into the container to prevent wilting. While this might sound like a sweet way to make use of some spare change, experiments show this method delivers no benefit whatsoever, and in some cases, it seems to age flowers faster.

3. Feed Your Flowers 

Many florists send packets of "flower food" along with bouquets. Those little pouches contain additives to make flowers last longer, but they don’t contain any magic that you can’t replicate with a few simple, easy-to-find items. The ingredients in flower food are citric acid, sugar, and bleach. Seriously, that’s it. You'll find citric acid in the aforementioned soft drink, along with sugar, which is probably why it works. If you don’t have any citric acid lying around, no worries. Stir a teaspoon of lemon juice, a teaspoon of sugar, and three to five drops of bleach into a liter of water, and you’re set.

4. Start Fresh, Stay Fresh

It may be obvious, but the cornerstone of long-lasting floral arrangements is to start with the freshest blooms you can find. Country Greenery promises the freshest cut flowers possible, picked and packed the same day they're delivered—which gives you an advantage over cut flowers that have spent days refrigerated before they land on your doorstep. In addition to the freshest flowers, you also want fresh water and an immaculately clean container. To keep flowers for longer, thoroughly clean and disinfect your vessel before you arrange your flowers, and change the water every couple of days to ensure things are fresh and clean.

5. Strip and Cut Stems Properly

Before any flowers go into a vase, prepare all of your stems by removing foliage that'll rest below the waterline. Stray, underwater leaves provide an opportunity for rot and can harbor bacteria. Bacteria is the enemy and will undermine your arrangement by creating stem rot in flowers faster than you can say, “Yuck!”

Once you clean up the stems, fill a deep bowl or the sink with lukewarm water. Before placing the stems in the arrangement, use a sharp knife, scissors, or pruning shears to cut the ends at an acute angle—under the water. This helps ensure water uptake and prevents air bubbles from impeding the flow of water in the stems. Recutting the stems each time you change the water helps your flowers last even longer.

6. Practice Good Vase Etiquette

The container you use should be a size that's appropriate for your arrangement. Don’t try to squeeze stems into a vase with a neck that's too narrow for them to fit easily. This can ruin the stems and cause vascular damage—exceedingly reducing the life of your arrangement. For very short containers, cut the stems back dramatically; you want your flowers to fill and create a shape rather than hanging haphazardly far outside the container. 

Last but not least, be gentle with your stems as you place them in the vase. Delicately rest them on the bottom, rather than letting them drop in. If the cut ends hit the bottom of the container, they can bruise, which inevitably shortens their life span.

7. Keep Cool

This is a widely overlooked factor in extending the life of cut flower arrangements. As beautiful as a floral display looks set against a luminous window, direct sun will dramatically shorten the life of a bouquet. Shadier areas and those that receive indirect light keep blooms lasting longer and looking better. If you have an extra refrigerator or some additional space in your refrigerator, chilling your arrangements overnight keeps them looking vibrant and freshly picked for a significant amount of time. If you don’t have the extra space, you can still place them in a cool garage or on a patio on cool evenings to have flower bouquets that last longer. 

After reading all these tips and tricks for extending the life of your floral arrangements, you might think it sounds like a lot of work. It isn’t! When you start with farm-fresh, beautiful blooms, it makes the rest fall into place easily. With a little preparation and a few minutes each day, you can give your arrangements a chance to strut their stuff for days on end. We think the reward is well worth the effort, and hope you do, too.

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