After growing, purchasing or receiving flowers it’s important to know the best practices when it comes to preservation of cut flowers or bouquets to ensure longevity. Similarly to chocolate’s most flowers (especially in our house) don’t last past a week and if they have they’ve often lost their inherent beauty. However, with our top 10 tips, your flowers or bouquet will have an increased life-span and will appear fresh and fragrant.
1. First things first when receiving the flowers it is important to cut the stems, if you have garden shears or if not use scissors to cut off between 2.5 – 5 centimeters of the stem at an angle. Cutting the stems at an angle stops the flowers from sitting on the bottom of the vase. Which in turn slows the pace at which the flower will absorb water, flowers need water especially after being cut, thus don’t forget the angle!
2. Flower food although predominantly used before cutting flowers is an effective tool to preserve the life of cut flowers. Although the flower is slowly dying once cut, flower food has been proven to increase the lifespan.
3. Prune your flowers below the watermark of the vase, this step is mainly applicable to cut flowers as most florists such as Flower warehouse would have already done this step. The reason for pruning is two-fold (pruning involves trimming unwanted leaves on the stem of the flower). Firstly it prevents bacterial growth which speeds us the pace at which the flower dies and secondly, it makes the stem of the flower in the vase appear cleaner and more appealing.
4. Fridge, just as the food lasts longer in a fridge, placing your bouquet overnight in the fridge will increase the lifespan of any bunch. Flowers enjoy the cool temperature once cut and heat causes flowers to wilt and lose their open and perky appearance.
5. Pick a good florist, a good florist will keep their flowers in a fridge and thus ensure their freshness. If you shop at a conventional supermarket where they keep their flowers in the open the flowers are unlikely to last past the 7-day mark. Although more expensive, you pay for what you get.
6. Be water savvy, once a flower has been cut the supply of water is also removed. Add a reasonable amount of water to a clean vase remember not to drown the flower. This is also a good time to add the flower food!
7. Vodka, as a spirit has the ability to stop the maturing process of flowers. Flowers release a compound called ethylene, which aids in the plant’s maturation. A clear spirit such as vodka, however, has the ability to stop the release of the compound ethylene, adding a few drops will also prevent the growth of bacteria, keeping the water fresher. This is important in the context of the drought and Cape Town.
8. Adding 30ml of apple cider vinegar has the ability to slow bacterial growth which is a common trend to slow the pace of wilting, which happens once the flower has been cut. The sugar in apple cider vinegar is also great flower food keeping the flower fresher for longer.
9. Clean your vase and add fresh water! This is perhaps one of the most important tips, a dirty vase and water will not only start to smell, but it will also stop the long and healthy life of cut flowers. As bacteria is often the main cause of flowers dying keeping everything clean is vital! In winter add fresh water once a week and in summer every three days. When changing water cut an additional 1 cm off the bottom as flowers form a seal within a few days of being cut.
10. Be wise in your placement of flowers, flowers will wilt and die much quicker if placed in direct sunlight or fruit. Flowers enjoy warmth but often direct heat will cause a quicker death of the plant. Fruit when ripening releases the same gas that vodka negates (ethylene) which will speed up the maturation of the plant. Place the plant in a relatively light setting far away from your fruit bowl.
Preserving cut flowers and bouquets takes a relatively small amount of effort, the returns are well worthwhile as your flowers can last up to three weeks, appearing lively and vibrant!