Fresh cut flowers brighten up a home, add color and life to a dull office space and send messages like "Thank you," "I love you" and "Happy birthday" to friends and family members. In order to make these flowers last as long as possible, they need specific care that includes trimming stems, providing nourishment and keeping water fresh and clean.
Store Bought Flowers
Flowers that are purchased at flower shops or grocery stores or that are received via delivery and are kept in vases need proper care in order to bloom and stay fresh. Before putting your flowers into their vase, cut the stems at an angle. Creating a fresh cut in flower stems allows them to absorb water more effectively, which will help to maximize the life of the bouquet. After three days, dump out the stale water, make a fresh cut in the stems and add new water. Continue replacing the water every three days until the flowers have wilted.
Fresh Cut Flowers
Growing fresh flowers, cutting them and bringing them inside your home is just one of the benefits of doing your own gardening. Some people believe that flowers in a garden should stay put, but others who like to fill their homes with fresh flowers should follow certain protocol. Cut the flowers either early in the morning or in the evening when the weather is cooler than the middle of the day. Remove any leaves that would be below water level and fill the vase with fresh water. Change the water in the vase every two days and recut stems at an angle. Be sure to replace the water instead of just adding water to the vase. The original water is full of bacteria that clogs up the fresh cut of the stems.
Cut flowers should be placed in warm water that is about 110 degrees Fahrenheit. Warm water is best because the flowers will soak the water up faster when it is at their ideal temperature rather than very cold or very hot water. At 110 degrees Fahrenheit, water molecules move very fast and will easily be able to travel up the fresh cut stem to the flower. This rapid movement of warm water to the flower will also help blooms to open faster than they would if they were stored in hot or cold water.
When a flower is cut from its stem, it loses all of its sources of nourishment and, in order to prolong the life of the flower, you must help support the flower by replacing nutrition for the stem and leaves with supplements. Most florists will send fresh cut flowers with packets of preservatives that contain sucrose, acidifier and a respiratory inhibitor. Commercial preservatives like these should be added to the vase each time the water is changed. Some schools of thought suggest adding pennies, aspirin, sugar or bleach to flower water, but the University of Minnesota Department of Horticultural Science claims these are simply "old wives' tales" and will not nourish your flowers at all.
Kaye Nemec has been a freelance writer and editor since 2009. Her articles can be found on the Broken Secrets website. Nemec has a Bachelor of Arts in communications and technical/professional writing from the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire.