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Flower Care

5 Tricks to Extend the Vase Life of Cut Flowers

How do you make cut flowers last longer? Aside from replacing the water in the vase regularly and ensuring that your cut flower is free of any leaf, stem or flower damage, there are many other tricks to increase the vase life of cut flowers.

We’ve got a few secrets that we’re ready to share with you today so you, too, can enjoy beautiful fresh blossoms for several more days. 

Use sugar. Sucrose, to be more specific, has been observed to improve flower quality and the bloom’s water consumption and freshness as it feeds the blossoms. Several studies have showed that sugars in vase solutions act as ethylene inhibitors too which means it can prevent the flower from wilting too quickly as ethylene causes flowers to age abruptly.

Most flowers can get enough food from 2% sugar added into the vase solutions. Some flowers like Gerbera Daisies, Gladioli and Sweet Peas need higher sugar concentrations of about four to six percent. Other flowers like Zinnias and Marguerite Daisies, on the other hand, cannot tolerate sugars above 1%.

It is important to note too that sugar can promote bacterial growth so you have to pair it with an antibacterial agent.

Add bleach or copper. Both are said to prevent fungi and bacteria growth. A drop of bleach may prevent molds from killing your flowers but too much of it can also wash your blooms’ attractive colour. A penny made from copper acts as fungicide and it can control the growth of black spots, powdery mildew, and bacterial leaf spots.

Bathe the stems in citrus soda. Floriculture professor Dr. John Dole studied the effect of homemade floral preservative in extending the life of certain cut flowers. His 2014 study showed that the use of citrus soda can extend the vase life of cut snapdragon, lisianthus and stock stems.

Store them in the fridge. Apparently, storing flowers in the refrigerator for at least six hours before arranging them can triple their vase life. Cooler temperature prolongs flower life as evidenced by floral authorities’ use of two types of floral fridges.  If you can’t find a space in your fridge for your flowers, make sure you keep the blooms away from hot air drafts and hot spots. Flowers in vase displayed beside a television are more likely to wilt faster than the flowers in a shaded and cooler area in your home. Fresh blooms at cool temperatures lose less water so ensure that you keep your fresh flowers in a cool location, away from excessive heat and direct sunlight.

Protect your blooms from the ripening hormone.  It’s ethylene gas. This naturally occurring hydrocarbon gas that you can’t see or smell is produced by certain fruits that are about to ripen. And while ethylene makes fruits ready for consumption, it causes premature aging and death in plants. Ethylene facilitates loss of chlorophyll, stem shortening, bending of stems, and abortion of plant parts. It follows then that you shouldn’t place flowers near fruits that release ethylene gas. These fruits include apples, pears, bananas, kiwis, mangoes, avocados, peaches, tomatoes, nectarines, and honeydew melons.

Extending the life of cut flowers is fairly easy if you have a good understanding of what causes flowers to wilt. Flowers wilt because of lack of water and minerals. If you prevent bacteria from blocking the small openings in the flower’s vascular system where water enters, then wilting will be less likely to occur. 

You can keep that bouquet of roses from your partner or that birthday blooms from your best friend looking fresh and beautiful for a few more days by trying one of the tips mentioned above. But before you do, you must not forget the immediate TLC that you should give to fresh cut flowers. Once you receive a bouquet or once your order of fresh flowers arrive, inspect the blossoms and remove wilted leaves and petals. Immediately remove the leaves at the stem portion that will be submerged in water. Cut off an inch or two off the stems under running water using a super sharp knife or garden shears for thick, woody stems. Transfer the blooms into a sparkling clean vase filled with clean water. Always, always use a washed, cleansed, squeaky clean vase because mildew and bacteria from an old or dirty vase can start premature wilting.

We would love to know which one of these techniques made your cut flowers last the longest.  Feel free to share your thoughts or any other “flower life saving” tricks you swear by. 

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