Help cut flowers last longer with this simple Letsfixit guide! True, it’s impossible to make that hand-picked bonnet full of daisies from your daughter, bouquet of roses from your sweetheart or spray of fresh freesia from your garden last forever. The stems, the water turns so foul you can’t get within 6 feet of it or the blossoms shrivel up and fall off—after only 12 hours in the vase.Don’t despair. You can enjoy cut flowers for longer than you thought possible by creating a preservative from items you may already have on hand and following a few simple steps.
Cut flower stems at a 45-degree angle at the bottom of the stem. The angle provides a larger area for the uptake of water into the stem. Cut at least 1 inch above the bottom of the stem that has been exposed. Once the cut has been made, immediately plunge the stem into lukewarm water to limit the amount of time the stem is out of the water. The longer the stem is out of water, the more time it has to close up. Air bubbles can also enter the stem and prevent water from flowing through it.
Remove all the leaves that will be below the water line. If leaves are allowed to remain on the stem below the water line, they will not only become unsightly in a hurry, they will encourage bacteria. This bacteria shortens the life of cut flowers and also causes that really awful smell you sometimes get with cut flowers in a vase.
Add commercial or homemade cut flower preservative to the vase after the flowers have been added. A simple flower preservative can be made quickly and easily. Combine 1 quart of warm water, 1 tsp. sugar, 1 tsp. bleach and 2 tbsp. lemon or lime juice and mix well. Use warm water because it’s more easily absorbed. There is an exception to the warm water rule: Cold weather flowers like daffodils and tulips should be kept in cold water.
Keep the vase in an area away from direct sunlight, drafts, heat and ripening fruit, which emits ethylene gas. This gas causes flower buds to stay closed and also shortens the life of cut flowers.
Replace the water in the vase as needed. If flowers are drooping, recut the bottoms of the stems. Drooping stems and blossoms indicate the stem is not getting enough water. If recutting doesn’t perk up the stem and blossoms, remove from the vase and throw away.