Fresh flowers are a beautiful addition to any home or furnished apartment, but they only last so long.
If you’ve received a bouquet of flowers as a gift or have an arrangement that you’d like to keep around longer, there are several ways to help preserve the flowers and keep them looking as fresh as possible.
1. Choose flower varieties that last longer
When purchasing flowers on your next payday to be used in an arrangement, keep in mind that the longer-lasting varieties include carnations, chrysanthemums, and lilies. As a rule of thumb, look for full-bodied blooms that are not yet fully open.
Avoid tight buds or flowers past their peak. The petals should also feel firm when gently pinched between your fingers.
In addition, avoid cutting flowers from your garden in the heat of the day or in the evening (when it has had all day long to heat up).
Choose a cloudy spring morning right after a rain when there is ample moisture for fresh cut flowers to hydrate and help them last longer after being cut.
2. Don’t forget to use floral preservatives
A floral preservative is a liquid you add to the water in the vase. It contains sugar and bleach, which will keep flowers fresh longer.
The sugar acts as food for the flowers, preventing them from wilting. The bleach prevents bacteria from growing in the water.
When you buy flowers at a florist, they will likely give you some sort of packet of floral preservatives to use with your arrangement. Otherwise, remember to ask for one.
Be sure to follow the instructions on the packet. Most require you to add 1/4 teaspoon of preservative per quart of water on day one and then again every few days after that.
3. Regularly change the vase water
Change the water in your vase every day to keep your flowers fresh. Use clean water that is at room temperature.
You mustn’t let the stems sit in a vase for more than three days because bacteria build up in the water. If you can’t change the water every day, at least make sure to cut off an inch or two of stem each time so that it stays exposed to fresh water.
Also, clean the vase before you refill it with new water. Ensure there isn’t any food left for bacteria and use warm, sudsy water to wash it out.
4. Be wary of certain flower combinations
When you put together your arrangement, be mindful of the different life spans of each bloom in your bouquet.
Some flowers last longer than others—you’ll find that the average lifespan for most flowers is five to seven days—and if you mix these species, it can cause problems for some of the less durable blooms.
On top of that, some flowers do not get along well because their stems produce sap at different rates. For example, daffodils produce a large amount of sap very quickly.
This can cause damage to other flowers in a bouquet if they are cut down into their stem.
Daffodils also release toxins through their stems which cause leaves or petals to wilt quickly and fall off prematurely when put in close contact with another flower (this toxin is called lycorine).
5. Avoid exposing flowers to Ethylene
Unfortunately, the natural ripening process of fruit produces ethylene, a gas that can cause flowers to age and wilt prematurely.
For this reason, fresh flower arrangements should not be kept in close proximity to any fruit or vegetables, nor near other sources of Ethylene (like a garage).
6. Keep them at the right temperature
It’s also important to be mindful of your home or office temperature.
Fresh floral arrangements should never be placed near direct heat (a space heater), open flames (fireplace), or air conditioning vents. Likewise, they shouldn’t be kept in a car or where temperature extremes are likely.
7. Apply the right lighting
The lighting conditions in which you arrange your flowers are essential.
The most common mistake with lighting regarding flower arrangements is using too strong light, such as direct sunlight or excessive indoor light sources.
This can cause the petals of your flowers to fade and dry out, especially in the case of sunflowers and tulips. You can avoid this by keeping your flowers away from direct sunlight and placing them next to a window rather than directly in front of one.
Excessive heat can also cause your flowers to wilt before their time, so avoid placing them near heat sources like radiators or fireplaces.
If you find yourself struggling with your flower arrangement’s lighting situation, consider how much humidity they will be exposed to as well.
Some types do better when they are kept at high humidity levels, others prefer moderate humidity levels, and others flourish when they are kept at low humidity levels.
Whether you want to preserve your floral decorations or are thinking of giving them as a gift, knowing how to preserve them can certainly be helpful. If properly maintained and cared for, they can last for weeks or even months.
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