Iris is a botanical genus that contains more than 250 individual species of flowering plants prized for their showy blossoms. Irises make lovely cut flowers, whether used alone or as part of a larger floral arrangement. Unfortunately, irises have a woefully short vase life and last just three to six days on average. Fortunately, proper care can help to extend the life of your cut irises and keep them looking their best for as long as possible.

Irises make beautiful cut flowers.

Cut Iris Flowers

The irises in your garden can be cut and brought indoors to add a splash of spring color to your indoor home landscape. Because cut irises have such a short vase life, the best way to make the most of your flowers is to cut them and bring them inside before their blooms have opened. Start watching your irises in the early spring and keep a close eye on their development; wait to cut the irises until the blossoms have formed and are starting to color. For best results, use sharpened and sterilized pruning shears to cut the irises at a 45-degree angle.

Homemade Floral Preservative

A floral preservative helps extend the life of your cut irises by providing them with much-needed nutrients and inhibiting the growth of microorganisms. While commercial flower food packets can be used, you can make a homemade floral preservative using a handful of items that you're likely to already have lying around the house. Combine one 12 oz. can of regular, not diet, lemon-lime soda, 1 tbsp. white sugar and 1 tsp. bleach with 2 pints of spring or purified water.

Cut Flower Care

Cut irises look especially lovely in clear glass vases. For best results, wash your vase in a solution of warm water and antibacterial soap to remove any harmful bacteria. Pour the homemade floral preservative into your vase. Hold the cut ends of the irises under cool running water and cut 1 inch off their stems. Quickly remove any leaves that fall below the water line before arranging your cut irises in the prepared vase. Trim another inch off the iris stems and replace the floral preservative on the third day to prevent it from becoming cloudy or stagnant.

Where to Keep Cut Irises

Exposing your cut iris flowers to heat and direct sunlight will cause them to fade much faster than they would normally. To keep your cut irises looking their best for as long as possible, keep them in a cool location that receives only indirect or filtered sunlight. The location that you choose should be at least six feet away from sources of extreme temperatures, such as heaters, air conditioners or drafts.