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Keeping Flowers Fresher for Longer

By: Beth Morrisey MLIS - Updated: 22 Aug 2012 | comments*Discuss
Flowers Fresher Longer Life Water

Cut flowers make beautiful arrangements, but from the moment they are cut they are racing against time towards drying out and shrivelling up. That's no reason to forgo a beautiful bouquet though. Re-cutting stems, changing water often, adding items to water, using hairspray on the blooms and considering the best placement for the specific flowers could all help extend the life of an arrangement by keeping flowers fresher for longer.

Re-cutting Stems

Many flower bouquets arrive home with stems perfectly cut to the same length. Often these stems are cut right across on a perfect horizontal. Re-cutting these stems on a diagonal may help keep the flowers fresher for longer because a diagonal cut increases the surface which can suck up water. Don't do this for poppies, hydrangeas or daffodils though. These flowers often leak liquids and so may have been cauterised to keep these substances in. Ask a supplier for more information on re-cutting the stems of specific flowers in an arrangement or bouquet.

Changing Water Often

Changing the water that bouquets and flower arrangements sit in is a great way to extend the life of the flowers. Changing water often keeps anything harmful (bacteria, fungus, etc) from being able to multiply and take over. Many florists advise customers to change water every day, or every few days at the very least. Some also advise that when the water is being changed the vase or container should be thoroughly cleaned and the flowers' stems re-cut as well. Regardless of how often water will be change, all leaves should be stripped from the stems of flowers if they would be below the watermark. Leave submerged in water deteriorate quickly and leave a smelly sludge behind.

Adding Items to Water

People swear by any number of different items which can be added to water to help keep flowers fresher longer. An aspirin (thought to increase the acidity of the water), vinegar (acidity), lemon juice (acidity) vodka (thought to be antibacterial), antiseptic mouthwash (thought to kill bacteria), a copper coin (thought to be antibacterial), bleach (thought to prevent mould), sugar (thought to mimic the sugar produced in photosynthesis) and clear fizzy drinks like Sprite or 7 Up (for the sugar content) have all been touted as additions to help extend the life of flowers. Many bouquets also come with a mix that is intended to be added to the water when the flowers are displayed. Often these mixes contain some sort of anti-bacterial agent, anti-fungal agent and/or sugar.

Using Hairspray on Blooms

Hairspray is often believed to act as a type of preservative on cut flowers. Spraying just the underside of the leaves and petals of the blooms with a minimal amount of hairspray could help keep cut flowers fresher for a little longer. Hairspray should be applied from a slight distance, however, and the coating should be light. It may take a little experimentation to determine if, or how much, hairspray helps keep cut flowers fresh.

Considering Best Placement

The placement of a flower arrangement or bouquet may also make a difference to its freshness. Flowers should be kept in cooler areas and out of direct sunlight. Some flowers, for example, tulips and daffodils, due better if they are not placed next to each other. If possible, keep flowers away from heat sources such as radiators, kitchen appliances or electric items (computer, television, etc) as the concentrated heat could damage the flowers as well.

A bouquet or arrangement of fresh cut flowers has a limited lifespan. There are some things that can be done to extend the life of cut flowers, however. Re-cutting stems, changing water often, adding items to water, using hairspray on the blooms and considering the best placement for the specific flowers may help keep flowers fresher for longer.

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