Making Your Cut Flowers Last Longer

Having fresh cut flowers is a great way to decorate and add beauty to your home. The longer the flowers last, the more you get to enjoy them. This is a guide about making your cut flowers last longer.
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January 2, 2017 Flag

Cut flowers in a vase.

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This is a guide about cut flower preservation recipes. When you buy cut flowers they often come with a packet of preserver to add to the water. If displaying flowers from your garden you can make your own, using products found in your home.

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10 found this helpful
May 20, 2012 Flag

I have tried many things when it came to getting flowers on special occasions; even picking ones from my rose garden. Sugar and aspirin are the couple I did most often. With this I added a penny. I was never sure why, but my Grandma always did this so of course it was a good thing!
I recently was reading a article in some magazine while waiting to go into the doctor appointment. I found a very interesting fact, today's pennies do not have enough copper in them to do anything as a helping fungicide. So if you do this helpful idea make sure your penny was made before 1981. Find one and keep it just for the bottom of you cut flowers.
You'll be able to enjoy them so much longer. If cutting them from your yard, early morning is better, flowers are holding the moisture from the night before.

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Source: Article at doctor's office from older magazine.

By Luana M. from San Diego, CA

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May 21, 20120 found this helpful

I never knew that before about pennies. Never heard that one. I'll try it next time.

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5 found this helpful
September 18, 2011 Flag

Every professional florist knows that the methods used to cut flowers and condition their stems can significantly extend their vase life. Here are a few easy tricks that will help you lengthen the life of the flowers you cut from your own garden - adding days of enjoyment to your floral arrangements.

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Cut Stems Cleanly

When to cut: If you cut flowers during the heat of the day, they may already be droopy from the heat. Instead, cut them in the early morning, late afternoon, or evening when temperatures are cooler. Choose blossoms that are just about to open fully. Mature blooms that are heavy with pollen will not last as long as newly opened flowers.

The exceptions to this are daffodils and forsythia. Their tightly closed buds will not open up after they've been cut. Roses will continue to open as long as one outside petal has unfurled when cut.

Daisies, tickseed, and blanket flowers should be cut when the flowers are fully opened, but the centers are still firm and slightly green. Spiky flowers like gladiolus, lupine, and delphinium should be cut when lower flowers are in full bloom and upper buds are just on the threshold of opening.

What to use: Believe it or not, scissors are not the best tools for cutting flowers. They tend to crush the stems rather than severing them cleanly, which closes off the water channels in the stem that carry the water up to the flowers.

Picking flowers by hand isn't a good idea either, as you risk tearing the stems or uprooting the plants. The best tool for cutting flowers is a very sharp knife. If you can't find a sharp knife, a scissors or pruning shears will do, just make sure they are sharp.

How to cut: When heading out to the garden, take along a bucket of lukewarm water (100 to 110 degrees F) for transporting freshly cut flowers back to the house. When cutting, slice across the stems at an angle. This provides the largest surface area possible for water uptake and prevents the stems from resting on the bottom of the vase (which would also prevent water uptake).

Conditioning Cut Stems

The vase life of flowers can be extended significantly by conditioning the stems so they can absorb as much water as possible immediately after being picked. After cutting them, condition the stems appropriately according to type (see below), and let them stand in a bucket of lukewarm water (around 100 degrees F) for at least six to eight hours, in a cool, dark place.

It's okay to immerse the foliage, but be sure to keep the flower blossoms dry. Conditioning the stems in this way will let the flowers drink in the water and be at their sturdiest before you start to work with them in arrangements.

Woody Stems: The blossoms of some flowering trees, shrubs, and vines have woody stems that have difficulty taking up water. Examples include dogwood, forsythia, honeysuckle, lilac, mimosa, and apple trees, as well as flowers with fibrous stems like mallow, thistle, and chrysanthemum.

To condition their stems, strip off the bark 1 inch above the cut, then use a wooden rolling pin or rubber mallet to lightly crush the tip of the stem to break down the fibers. An alternative method is to use a sharp knife to cut a series of 1 inch long vertical slits up through the center of the base of the stem.

Milky Stems: The stems of some flowers are filled with a sticky, milk-like sap which prevents them from drawing up water when they are cut. If not conditioned properly, this oozing milky sap can quickly contaminate the rest of the flowers in your arrangement. Examples include daffodils, poppies, hydrangea, and hollyhocks.

To condition flowers with milky stems, cauterize (seal) the tips by passing them through an open flame or plunging them into a hot water bath. If you need to cut the stems to length when it's time to arrange them, you'll need to seal the tips again before placing them in a vase.

Hollow Stems: One of the secrets of conditioning flowers with hollow stems (e.g. amaryllis, daffodils, dahlias, delphinium, and lupine) is to fill the stems with water and then plug the openings. Simply hold each stem upside down and fill it with water using a medicine dropper. Tap the stems gently with your fingers to release any air bubbles, and plug the hole with a tiny, wadded up piece of a cotton ball. Return the flowers to their bucket of water until you are ready to arrange them.

Soft Stems: Soft-stemmed flowers should be cut longer in the garden, because when you bring them indoors you'll need to re-cut their stems under water. This is done to prevent air lock. Dunk the stem tips in a shallow bowl filled with water and use a sharp knife or pruning shears to re-cut the stems at an angle. Then condition the flowers in tepid water before arranging. If possible, cut the stems to the length you'll need in the arrangement before soaking them, so you can avoid re-cutting them.

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September 19, 20110 found this helpful

Thank you, this is very handy advice! :-)

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November 30, 2011 Flag

Last week, I received some beautiful fresh red roses, which I immediately put in a vase. However, we happened to go away that weekend, and when we came back the roses had drooped considerably, but otherwise were not in bad shape.

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1 found this helpful
October 16, 2013 Flag

To make cut flowers last for weeks instead of days, use 7-Up or Sprite instead of water. Cut the ends every other day or so and freshen the liquid. Roses last for weeks!

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1 found this helpful
February 14, 2008 Flag

Did you get some cut flowers? Here's a little prep work you can do to make them last longer. Using pruning shears, make a fresh cut at the bottom of the stem. Do this under running water.

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1 found this helpful
March 4, 2008 Flag

To make fresh cut flowers last longer, use 1/2 water and 1/2 soda, such as Sprite or any clear color soda. Your flowers will last for weeks and weeks and they will remain beautiful.

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2 found this helpful
May 14, 2013 Flag

When cutting fresh lilacs, use a hammer to lightly crush the woody part of the cut ends to about 2 inches up the stem. The lilacs will then take up more of the water in the vase and stay fresher longer.

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3 found this helpful
October 5, 2011 Flag

Another tip for keeping flowers fresh and even for revival is to put some fizzy clear lemonade into the water. This will revive them fantastically.

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2 found this helpful
July 8, 2011 Flag

Bouquet of Siberan iris, peony, and mock orange blossoms

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The mock orange have woody stems. In order to prepare them to draw more water in the vase, I crush the stems with a hammer. The flowers can last longer that way.

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0 found this helpful
March 1, 2005 Flag

Throw a couple of pennies into the water with your fresh cut flowers to keep them alive longer!

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3 found this helpful
October 24, 2011 Flag

Keep them in ice water, as much as you can. Store them in the refrigerator at night (in the winter, you can put them outside on the back porch). I have gotten cut flowers to last 2 weeks this way.

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September 27, 2007 Flag

Fresh cut flowers should always be placed in warm water rather than cold because the stem will absorb the warm water more rapidly. This prevents air bubbles from blocking the stem.

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1 found this helpful
November 20, 2008 Flag

If your children are like mine, anytime I cut fresh flowers, they ask to take a pretty bloom to their teachers. Rather than trying to keep the stems moist by wrapping them, use a plastic floral tube. You can purchase several for a dollar at the floral counter in your grocery store.

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July 7, 2011 Flag

I have magnificent hydrangeas bushes in my back yard. Sometimes, a flower will break off or has a very short stem. Rather than throw it away, I put it in the refrigerator in a shallow bowl with water. I enjoy it every time I open the door!

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September 10, 2010 Flag

To prolong the life of cut flowers in a vase, add a couple of drops of chlorine bleach. Never submerse any of the stem with leaves in the water. It adds to the decay factor.

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April 8, 2010 Flag

To keep your freshly picked flowers alive longer, add sugar. Add 1/2 tsp sugar for every cup of water.

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May 5, 2006 Flag

Fresh flower bouquets are wonderful and can last much longer if, besides all the usual methods of adding conditioner/aspirin to the water, and freshly cutting stems and so on, you prune your bouquets. . .

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Questions

Ask a QuestionHere are the questions asked by community members. Read on to see the answers provided by the ThriftyFun community or ask a new question.

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March 18, 2016 Flag

I bought this interesting bunch from a flower market last weekend, and I'm sure the sign next to it said "we don't need any water" but I want to confirm that and can't remember the name! Please help :)

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March 23, 20160 found this helpful

Perhaps they will dry out therefore there's no need for water. They look like a variety of Thistles.

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March 24, 20160 found this helpful

All the little red/green stuff looks like sedum, which is a succulent. It wouldn't need much water if it is.

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0 found this helpful
April 27, 2014 Flag

Do you mash the stem on fresh cut roses or not? I have rose bushes that I cut regularly. I am told to mash the stem before putting in a vase. I say no to that and that they go into the vase after a slant cut. Please let me know.

By Maggie

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August 17, 20150 found this helpful

All you need to do is cut your roses on an angle, about 1" or less and add some sugar to the water. They should last a few extra days longer than usual. Enjoy! Take lots of pictures!

Mare

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0 found this helpful
November 24, 2014 Flag

Should you put freshly cut bittersweet in water or hang it to dry if you want to use it in a decoration? I have found conflicting information.

By Janet F from New Haven, CT

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0 found this helpful
December 15, 2009 Flag

I would like to know how to make a rose bowl. I have seen roses preserved in a liquid inside an inverted, sealed "vase". I would like to know where to get such a "vase". What liquid is used to preserve the roses?

By Susan from Alameda, CA

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0 found this helpful
September 10, 2010 Flag

How do I make cut flowers last longer in a vase?

Tim

Answers:

Make Your Cut Flowers Last Longer

Cut a half an inch off bottom stems while in water then put them in fresh water adding 1/2 aspirin. (05/11/2009)

By nanner1

Make Your Cut Flowers Last Longer

Another idea: There are several small steps you can take to prolong the life of cut flowers.

Before placing flowers in a vase, hold the stems under water and cut at least one inch off of the base of the stem. This will promote the flow of fresh water into the leaves and blooms.

Place flowers into a clean vase with tepid water. If you don't have commercial flower preservatives, add a bit of sugar and a drop of bleach to the water. The sugar will prolong the life of the flower and the bleach will prevent fungal and bacterial growth in the water.

To combat moisture loss, mist flowers with water and keep them away from hot lights and sources of heat.

Each night, put your flowers - vase, water and all - into the refrigerator. Most flowers, like other perishable items, last longer in cooler temperatures.
(05/12/2009)

By MCW

Make Your Cut Flowers Last Longer

Cut stem on angle so it can absorb more water. Use cool water, make sure all leafs are not immersed or cut them off before putting into vase. Prevents going rancid. Add a tablespoon of sugar, or reg. aspirin. Change water ever 2-3 days. This keeps water from spoiling. My carnations usually last 2-2.5 weeks! Lilacs can be forced to bloom early by hammering the stems. (05/18/2009)

By Butterflyfreed

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