By Michele D. Baker
If you love fresh cut flowers in the house but don’t often have them because they die so quickly, then you’re in luck! There are several easy things you can do to extend the longevity of those petals, whether from your garden or from a shop. Did you know AARP offers a discount on flowers at FTD.com./aarp or by calling FTD at 1-833-814-AARP (2277)?
1. Snip Them Again
When you buy cut flowers at a shop or supermarket, they usually come already cut, wrapped, and soaking in a bucket of water. Even so, many florists would advise you to trim the stems as soon as you get home. Here’s why:
Just like all living things, flowers possess a vascular system running through the stems to absorb water and nutrients and transfer them to the petals. During your travel home, the flowers are not submerged in water. This causes air to be drawn into the stems and will block the water absorption once you put them in the vase. To prevent this, cut a half inch (or more) of the stems with sharp pruning shears.
Immediately after trimming, submerge the cut flowers in the water to prevent more air bubbles from forming. Arrange your flowers into a desirable shape and use a rubber band on the stems before snipping to prevent unnecessary movements after cutting. Remove any leaves that will be located below the water line, as they can rot quickly and spread bacteria to healthy parts of the flower.
2. Just Like Pets, Flowers Need Fresh Water
You’ll also need to watch the water you’re introducing to freshly cut flowers. Hot water is one of the worst mistakes you can make as it will essentially cook the flowers – room temperature water is best. However, slightly cool water can help flowers like daffodils and tulips last even longer.
It is also important to change the water every two to three days (even daily, with certain varieties). As time goes by, the water will become cloudy and filled with bacteria. Remember to wash the vase when you change the water to remove debris that sticks to the vase wall. It’s also helpful to trim the stems a bit, too, each time you change the water.
3. Feed Your Flowers
Every flower shop has its own secret mixture of flower food. Ask them to sell you some, purchase ready-made packets online, or try making your own at home. Typically, flower food contains three basic ingredients: sugar, acid, and antibacterial products. Sugar provides nourishment. Acid keeps the water pH level low to reduce wilting and help the flowers absorb water better; try citric acid from lemons or crushed vitamin C. The most common antibacterial products are bleach and spirits such as vodka or gin. Another unconventional, yet tried and true, method to keep fresh flowers last longer is by using crushed aspirin (salicylic acid).