Caring For Your Flowers
Fresh cut flowers are still considered living plants and the following tips will help the cut flowers in your bouquet last longer:
- Replenish and replace the water frequently;
- Trim the tips with each water change;
- Display your flowers away from heat and bright light;
- Avoid displaying flowers next to fruit and vegetables;
- Clean your vase with each water change; and
- Use flower food.
Replenish and replace the water frequently IN YOUR VASE
Flowers drink a lot of water! It is not uncommon for a bouquet to take up all the water in a vase within the first day or two you have it at home. Make it a practice to keep the vase full to ensure your flowers do not dry out and wilt.
Flowers are also susceptible to bacteria that builds up as stems sit in the water. Some stems are particularly "hairy" such of sunflowers and zinnias, and actually shed these hairs from their stems into the vase water. Changing the water in the vase every few days, even if the water has not been used up, will help keep your flowers fresh longer.
Trim the tips OF YOUR FLOWERS
Trim approximately a half inch of stem off your flowers before you put them in a vase and each time you change the water.
I think of flower stems as tiny straws that draw the water up to the flower head. By cutting the stems just before placing them in water, you expose fresh tissue that can take up the water much more efficiently. Trimming stems when you change the water in the vase a few days later removes tissue at the tips that may be breaking down and not open to taking up as much water. You can use garden clippers or you can even lay your bouquet on a cutting board and with a good sharp kitchen knife slice off the tips (use safe knife practices always!).
Set Your flowers away from heat and bright light
It seems natural to think we should set our vase of flowers in a sunny windowsill since that is where a plant would be happiest. However, cut flowers are actually the opposite of plants. They are at their peak of perfection when harvested here on the Farm. Sun and heat will encourage them to “mature” and thus shorten their life. Instead, keep your cut flowers in a cool location out of direct sunlight so they last as long as possible. Similarly, when transporting them, do not let them sit in an un-air conditioned vehicle as we all know how quickly heat can build inside a closed vehicle even on a somewhat overcast day.
Avoid sitting your flowers next to fruit and vegetables
Avoid sitting your flowers beside ripening fruit or vegetables, especially bananas and apples.
Ripening fruit gives off an odorless invisible gas called ethylene. This gas is harmless to humans, but rather deadly to flowers. The science behind it is as such: in the plant world, flowers are the precursor of fruit. Once a flower is pollinated, it begins to develop into a fruit so it can form seeds and start the plant life cycle over again. Ethylene is the gaseous hormone in the plant that induces that flower to drop its petals and become a fruit. As the fruit matures, it continues to give off ethylene. When you sit your vase of flowers next to ripening fruit, you’re exposing them to this gas and they will decide they’d better drop their petals the way Mother Nature intended.
Would you drink out of the vase?
Vases should be washed very thoroughly in soapy water. One of the first things I learned after becoming a member of the Association of Specialty Cut Flower Growers is that my harvest buckets and vases are only clean if I would drink out of them. And yes, I would drink out of them! I utilize Dawn dish soap to wash all my buckets and vases, then rinse them and follow this by a rinse with a small amount of bleach in the water.
Wash your vase before placing your flowers in it and also each time you change the water and you will have very happy flowers!
Use Flower Food FOR THE FLOWERs IN YOUR BOUQUET
While changing the water every other day is effective for making flowers last longer, utilizing the flower food mix for the first several days will extend the life of your bouquet. In addition to providing the flowers a small amount of carbohydrates, flower food contains a bactericide that prevents the build up of bacteria in the water and thus in the stems of the flowers and an acidifier that alters the pH of your water so that the flower stems can take up more water easily. I include a packet with each purchase made directly from me. If you purchase my flowers at a retail outlet, always ask for a packet!