Watching cut flowers wilt might be the saddest part of floral decor, but if you make sure to purchase them at the right time and snip rose stems regularly you can protect your floral investment to up to a week longer.
That said, purchasing in a bouquet of flowers can be intimidating, especially if you’re not the best with sensitive cut blooms. If you’re worried you’re just going to end up killing all your expensive florals the day after you bring them home, let the experts guide the way. Here, they give their best advice.
Choose the Right Flowers.
If you really want your cut flowers to last a long time, your first bet is picking them correctly. “There are some flowers that, in general, are sturdier, and they last longer than others,” says Samantha Maranca, founder of NYC-based floral company The Mini Rose Co. “Bulb flowers, such as tulips, hyacinth, and narcissus (daffodil) are very heat-sensitive, and therefore go through their life span a bit more quickly than others. A trick for these is adding ice cubes or very cold water, as warm water will hasten their life span. Lilies, ranunculus, orchids, and blooming branches typically last longer than other floral types.”
It's also good to stick to just one or two types of cut flowers in a single bouquet, like hardy roses, if you know you don’t have the time or patience to deal with the different care requirements of several kinds of blooms. “I suggest single-stem arrangements, which are just the same stem cut of the same variety of flower, and don’t incorporate any other,” says Brookelyn Roman of Scotts Flowers in New York City. “The reason for this is because these stems actually create their own biome in the water that they feed off of, but it might impact other flowers you bring into the bouquet.”
And of course, quality is key. “I feel like that goes without saying, but drugstore flowers obviously won’t last as long as the flowers you get from a speciality store,” says Roman. “Local is always best as well, since they’ll travel shorter distances to get to you.” Since flowers die once they’re picked, the shorter the distance traveled, the fresher the flower will be.
Trim the Stems Regularly.
You’ve heard it before, but changing your water really is key for making sure your roses and other cut flowers last as long as they possibly can. “Every two to three days is ideal,” says Maranca. “Everyone has an old wives' tale about how to make your flowers last, but we find that fresh and ample water does wonders.”
Another tip is to cut the stems off your flowers every time you change the water—but there’s a technique to this. “Preferably, you want to cut your stems under running water (warm, not hot) at an angle, because that will make sure they’re immediately hydrated—kind of like straws,” says Roman. “Use a sharp knife as opposed to scissors or a pruner to cut them.” The 45-degree angle will help the water get more easily absorbed and draw them up the stems, while the sharp cut will further allow more water to seep through.
As tempting as it might be to have your cut flowers by the window so that everyone can see your perfect petals, Maranca cautions against it. “Always keep flowers in a cool space, away from direct sunlight, if possible,” she says. It’s also best to avoid areas of high humidity, as those can affect flower health as well.
Pluck Out Wilting Blooms ASAP.
“All your flowers won’t last the same length of time,” says Roman. This can be due to multiple things, from quality to how easily they’ve been absorbing water, but one thing’s for sure: Once your a cut flower has died, you need to remove it from the bouquet as soon as possible. “When a flower dies, it starts to release an odorless, invisible gas called ethelyne that’s actually harmful to living flowers,” Roman explains. So if you want your other flowers to last, you’d better act quickly.
Another interesting tip? Buy cut flowers that are at the beginning of their blooming cycle. “Just remember you're dealing with a living thing, so choosing flowers in the right point of development is key to longevity,” stresses Maranca. “If you're having a same-day dinner party, getting flowers that are fully open is perfect. If you want something for your home or office for a full week, selecting flowers that are tighter and in an earlier stage of development might be a better plan.” Just think about how fun it’ll be to see your flowers slowly bloom every day!
While using just water is a fairly sufficient way to take care of flowers, if you’re really worried, Roman says you can create a solution for them to sit in. “The flowers have been removed from their source root, so they need the same kinds of nutrients that they would be getting from their source plant,” she elaborates. “So mostly this means adding sugar, which plants use to photosynthesize. You can buy these solutions or powders from a flower shop: They consist of sugar, citric acid, and a little bit of bleach.”
Just buy the packet, add a small amount to water, and make sure it’s dissolved—then, add your cut flowers to the vase. The sugar feeds the plant, the bleach helps to kill bacteria, and the citric acid balances the PH level of the water. Note that this isn’t entirely necessary, though, unless you’re using really delicate blooms.
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