Keeping Flowers Fresh as a Daisy

Posted by on February 13, 2010

2005_0313LLV0012Valentine’s Day is a portent of spring to come; with the vernal equinox just five weeks away, it’s time to start thinking about new life and new growth. Nothing signifies life and growth better than flowers, and maybe that’s why flowers have become such a symbol of Valentine’s Day.

Whether you receive a vase of roses or pick up a mixed bouquet at the farmer’s market, here are a few tips to keep cut flowers looking their best. Note, this isn’t professional advice, just things that have worked for me over the years.If you are arranging flowers yourself, keep these ideas in mind:

1. Remove any greenery below the water line, otherwise it will breed bacteria and the blooms will quickly die.

2. To remove rose thorns, place the pad of your thumb on the side of the thorn and snap it off.

3. Always cut the stems, and cut them at an angle with a very sharp pair of scissors or a paring knife. Even if the stems are the right height for the vase, cut ¼ inch off the bottom. If the stem is thick and woody (like lilacs) and hard to cut, smash the end with a hammer to ensure water can penetrate the stem.

4. If you don’t have a vase large enough for the entire bouquet, make smaller arrangements in several vases. (And think beyond a “vase” and look for anything that can hold water like drinking glasses or pitchers.) This is also a good tip to spread fresh flowers throughout the house.

5. When it comes to water, some people swear by those packets of powder from the florist. Others add lemon-lime soda, sugar, bleach or even a penny to the water. But I’ve found that the best way to keep the flowers fresh is to keep the water fresh. Change the water every other day, re-cutting the stems just a bit. I’ve kept roses alive and fresh for two weeks this way.

6. Some flowers, such as Gerber daisies and tulips just die more quickly than others. Remove wilted or dead blooms from the arrangement and if the arrangement is looking thin, transfer it to a smaller vessel.

7. Heat makes flowers wilt. If possible, keep the bouquet in a cool (but not freezing) place at night, such as a garage in winter, and bring them back inside to enjoy during the day.

For premade arrangements, be sure to add water to the vase when you receive them and change the water every other day. If you don’t want to take apart the professionally-done design, try holding the flowers to the side with one hand while emptying the vase with another and then refill with water.

One last tip: when the flowers have all had their day, be sure to wash the vase with warm, soapy water and add capful of bleach to the water to kill any bacteria. Always dry the vase with a linen or flour sack towel to keep it sparkling and spot-free for the next bouquet!