How to Make your Fresh Cut Flowers Last

by Linn County Master Gardener, Claire Smith.

Early in the spring we took Mom lilacs.  The wonderful scent wafted all the way down the hall in her apartment building.   The next week apple blossoms popped out to mix with more lilacs.  A bouquet of Iris followed a couple of weeks later.  Iris don’t exhibit a pungent aroma, but the double blossoms are stunning.  Last week we took Peonies.  There’s no escaping that fragrance! Mom loves having admiring visitors just follow their noses to her living room.  

Have you ever picked a bouquet of flowers only to have them wilt within hours?   Cut the stem at an angle with a sharp knife or garden scissors. Choose fresh blooms as they’ll last longest.  Try a preservative. There are some non-commercial preservatives you can use to maintain healthy and happy blossoms.  Flowers need sugar for survival and growth as well as disinfectants to inhibit fungi and bacteria growth.  One TBL. of sugar with ¼ tsp. of bleach mixed in a vase full of water is a good home remedy.    ¼ tsp. of Citric Acid (available in drug stores) per one gallon of water is another option.    Keep the vase filled with fresh water. Avoid using chemically softened water or extremely hot or cold water.  Shun direct sunlight and direct heat, i.e. keep the vase off the top of the refrigerator and T.V.  A challenge at my house is keeping vases away from the cats who view fresh greenery as a delicacy, to be gobbled up and then regurgitated.  An upside down plastic berry basket in your bowl or vase will aid in holding the flower arrangement in place if you don’t have a flower frog handy. 

Two year old Charlie feels he’s Great Grandma’s designated flower delivery man.  Our quest there is keeping the vase upright so we don’t leave a trail of water all the way down the hall.  But, no matter how flowers get to their destinations, fresh cut, home grown bouquets are almost as good as a tomato plucked fresh from the vine or a box of chocolate covered cherries.

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