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Six Tips to Keep Cut Flowers Alive Longer

Learn The Tricks Used By Florists 

At Green Fresh Florals + Plants, we take pride delivering the freshest cut flowers to maximize their life. But you have a role to play, too!

It doesn't matter whether you’re growing flowers in your garden or purchasing your flowers from a flower retailer, you want the beauty of your flowers to last. We compiled a short list of tips used by florists around the world that are simple and easy to help keep your flowers lasting longer and extend the joy they provide in your life.  You may already know one or two of these, and some may know all of these. But most of us, even when we know one or two, rarely remember to use them. 

Once you learn these important tips, remember to use them when you arrive home with your bouquet, or your doorbell rings and a delivery driver from Green Fresh Florals is there to hand deliver some stunning seasonal blooms just for you. However you come by your flowers, I hope you find these tips useful and make you feel a pinch more like Martha Stewart. 

1. Always Cut the Stems Before Placing in Water

If you purchase your flowers, you should always cut the stems before putting them in water. If you are buying an arrangement from a professional florist, they should already be cut, and your flowers will be good for a few days. However, it’s still important to clip the stems after a few days to allow fresh water to penetrate the flower's stem. It also is helpful to replace the water every couple of days.

Every three days or so, using sharp scissors or pruning shears, cut about one inch from the bottom of each stem at a 45-degree angle. Doing so allows the flower stem to absorb more water. You can either cut each flower stem individually or a small group at the same time. Either way, remember to keep the angle at 45 degrees.

2. Cut back or remove the extra leaves

Before you place your cut flowers in a vase, take some time to remove any extra leaves at the base of the stem if the leaves would likely rest under the waterline of the container. Eliminating the foliage will decrease any bacteria in the water, helping keep the water clean and free of foul odors. This will also allow the focus of the bloom on the flowers, enabling them to stay fresh longer. Pruning fresh flowers and removing leaves is a regular part of our daily flower care at Green.  

3. Choose the right size vase or container

Picking the correct vase size is an essential element in the life of your cut flower arrangement. Our trained florists can help you choose the right vase or container size to ensure that the clipped stems fit nicely into the opening or mouth. If the opening is too narrow, the flower stems might look cramped or squished so either remove some of the flower stems to create a smaller bunch or find a larger vase to utilize. In the opposite direction, If the mouth of your vase is too wide, the arrangement will not have any form or shape. If you're not sure, ask one of our friendly florists to help you decide from the many options we have available online or in our Hillcrest shop. Some work best for short and stocky arrangements, while others are better for tall and showy designs. Our team can help you make the right choice.

Before you cut your flower stems, prepare your vase. Be sure your vase is clean and filled with fresh cold water two-thirds of the way to the top. (Tip: If you are trying to get your flowers to open, you should substitute warm water for cold. Warm water will promote the opening of the bloom.) If you are trying to keep cut flowers alive longer, you will want to use cold water when you replace the water.

4. Don't be afraid to cut those stems

Most beginners shy away from using a low vase like a cube, or small bowl, because this size requires a drastic trim to the stems of your flowers. To make your flowers look like they were arranged by a designer from Green, work up some courage and be sure to use some good pruning sheers to cut the stems down significantly. Warning: It can cause some anxiety for those just learning. 

When your anxiety has subsided, tackle trimming the length of the flower stems to fit your vase height. Keep your stems tight in your hand and trim them at equal length so the blooms rise a half inch above the vase. Tight like your finger in a bowling ball. (After you do this once or twice, you will feel much more comfortable and your anxiety will diminish.) Remember to be conservative in your trim as you can always go back and shorten the length further. Unlike hair, a flowers stem won't grow back. If your anxious, use a single stem as a test, and once you feel comfortable with the length, apply it as a template to the other stems. 

5. Change the Water Every Two Days

Fresh, clean water will keep your cut flowers alive longer. You should take the flowers out of the vase every two or three days, rinse the vase out, and fill it with fresh water. If you have a packet of “plant food” provided by many florists (see below) to help keep your arrangement alive longer, this is a perfect time to add it. If you have dying foliage, be sure to remove it.

Tip: Placing your arrangement in the fridge overnight as florists do will also help extend your flower's life. While this may be difficult depending on the size of the arrangement, it is a nifty trick that will do wonders for your flower's life, especially in the summertime when the flowers are in warm air throughout the day.

6. Remove dying flowers

Everything has a season, and there will be a time when some of your flowers will start to fade and turn dark. Despite all the hard work by those supplying your flowers, and your extra effort to keep them alive, some blooms will begin to wilt within a week.

To continue to enjoy your flowers, remove blooms that are wilting and dying as they can begin to grow mold and contaminate the healthy flowers. While this won’t do anything to extend the life of your flowers, it will keep your arrangement looking good longer.

Believe it or not, where you display your flowers can significantly impact how long your cut flowers will look good. Place your arrangement in a shaded, cool area that receives indirect sunlight as the colder temperature helps preserve the blooms.

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Bonus Tip #1: Choose the best location for your arrangement

Keeping your cut flowers in the right place can impact the life of your flowers, too!. Place your arrangement in a shaded, cool area that receives indirect sunlight as the shade and cooler temperature helps preserve the blooms.

Bonus Tip #2: Beware fruit.

It is essential to keep cut flowers away from fruits in the kitchen or on the table. Fresh fruits and veggies give off ethylene gas, and will cause your flowers to wilt. A gas bomb, if you will. Cut carnations are particularly susceptible to gas, but one apple won’t kill a whole bunch of flowers. But avoid placing your fresh cut flowers next to a large bowl of fruit.

And one more trick...

If your florist provides a small packet of flower "food” then be sure to use it. While the ingredients vary depending on the manufacturer, most contain sugar (energy) to feed the flowers, acid to maintain the pH levels of the water, and a bit of bleach to reduce bacteria and fungi that can collect in your vase. All three help extend the life of the flowers.

Save this post and remember, when you receive or purchase cut flowers, you have a role to play in keeping them alive longer. 

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