How to Lengthen the Life of Fresh Flowers

flowers in a vase

There are two kinds of people: those who love fresh flowers and those who love them but immediately lament how short-lived they are, and therefore, kind of can’t bear to bring them home.

If you’re in either camp, listen up, because although the reality is that, yes, fresh flowers do have a short lifespan there are proven ways to help them last a bit longer. So the next time you pass a bodega bursting with blooms, go ahead and scoop up a bouquet and try these tips.

Hold Stems Under Water While Trimming

Perhaps you already know to cut the stems of your flowers before placing them in a vase, but there’s a trick to help the blooms last even longer. Using a pair of sharpened shears, cleanly trim the stems at a 45-degree angle while holding them under running water . For a clean cut, trim only a few stems at a time. (Cutting on an angle means that the flowers have more surface area to soak up the water.)

Add Vinegar and Sugar to the Base

It’s a combo no human would want to consume, but freshly cut flowers guzzle up a vinegar and sugar cocktail. The sugar nourishes the flowers and encourages unopened buds to blossom, while the vinegar creates a more acidic, plant-approved pH level that keeps them fresher for longer. The ideal ratio is one quart of warm water, two tablespoons of white or brown sugar, and two tablespoons of vinegar. Note: you really only need to fill the vase halfway.

Change the Water Every Other Day

Standing water is veritable mosh pit for bacteria, especially when there’s other organic matter (such as plant stems) involved. While the vinegar can help slow bacteria growth, it’s still a good idea to replace your water every other day to better preserve your bouquet. When changing the water, take a few extra minutes to clean the vase, re-trim the stems, and remove any wilted or dead flowers.

Place Them Strategically

You pay special attention to location when planting flowers, so you should do the same with vases full of fresh flowers. A prime location is cool, non-drafty and out of direct sunlight, which can cause flowers to wilt and decay more quickly. Keep them away from appliances which also emit heat, and away from other plants or food, since these items produce ethylene gas that may result in premature wilting.

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