Everything You Need to Know About Keeping Flowers Fresh
15th Jul 2019 | Posted by Wild Poppies

Everything You Need to Know About Keeping Flowers Fresh

Nothing brightens up one’s day more than being surprised with a beautiful bundle of blooms!

Whether given for a special occasion such as birthdaysgraduations, or anniversaries, or just for those ordinary moments in between, a fresh bouquet of flowers makes for a thoughtful gift. Flowers bring good cheer and spread positive vibes all over. Like all good things though, blooms don’t last forever. The vibrant colours, the fragrance - they eventually fade. Some even lose their beauty after only a few days.

Fear not, flower lovers! Lucky for you, we have collected some of the best tips on how you can keep flowers fresh and add a few extra days to the life of your bouquet.

Re-cut the stems

Make sure to remove the wrapping or the protective plastic liner around your flowers as soon as you can. Then, grab a pair of sharp scissors or garden shears and trim approximately one to two inches off the stems at a 45 degree angle.

Cutting the stems diagonally allows the flowers to take in more water. Be careful not to smash or pierce the stems as this may destroy the water vessels and prevent proper water absorption. While re-cutting the stems, have a go at the leaves that fall below the waterline as well. Aside from making your bouquet look cleaner, it also keeps your flowers fresh. This is because leaves that get submerged in water can rot very quickly, causing bacterial growth. This obviously shortens the life of your buds and cause a musty odour.

Remember to re-trim the stems and prune wilted foliage and faded blooms once every few days after the initial cut.

Choose the perfect vase

There are so many styles and types of vases to store your flowers in - from tall, cylindrical vases, to short and stout ones. The general rule to picking a vase is to look at the size.

The height and opening of the vase matter as these are essential to supporting your blooms. Experts say that the length of the stems should not be more than twice the height of your vase. The opening shouldn’t also be too wide or too narrow for your flowers. Too wide and it may not be able to give proper support for the stems; too narrow and it may damage the stems or ruin the arrangement.

To make sure you’re keeping flowers fresh in a vase, consider the following pointers:

  • For long-stemmed flowers, display them in a tall, slender column vase. This type of vase offers excellent structure and keeps everything sleek.
  • For shorter-stemmed and voluptuous blooms, pick an hourglass-shaped vase. It is flared at the top, narrow in the middle, and wide at the bottom. This gives your flowers enough room to spread out while keeping the arrangement intact.
  • For single stems, a bud vase or rectangular vase works wonders. This is especially great if you don’t want to crowd one vase and would like to keep a single stem from your bouquet on your bedside table.

Replace the water every two to three days

Another tip to keep flowers fresh is to make sure they’re properly hydrated. The more flowers there are in your vase, the more water they’ll need, so be sure to check the water level daily.

It’s also worth noting that simply keeping your flowers sitting in and sipping water isn’t enough. You also have to make sure that you replace the water and clean the vase thoroughly every few days to avoid bacteria growth.

The best way to make sure your vase is spotless is by filling it with a combination of hot water and some dishwashing liquid. Let it sit for a few minutes, then rinse fully.

Do flowers really need 'flower food'?

You might be wondering, does 'flower food' really help in keeping cut flowers fresh for longer? The short answer is yes.

The little square packet that comes with the flowers was indeed developed to extend the life of flowers. According to Mental Floss, flower food packets typically contain sugar, acid, and bleach. Sugar provides the nutrients flowers need, acid neutralises the water’s pH level, while bleach eradicates bacteria and fungi in the water. Don’t forget to check the instructions on your flower food to achieve the best results.

Find the perfect spot

Sure, you want to show off your beautiful blooms, but remember to do so in a way that doesn’t compromise the health of your buds.

For starters, avoid displaying them in direct sunlight as well as near any heat sources. Heat pumps, radiators, and electronics can all generate heat that can cause your blooms to deteriorate faster.

It’s also better to avoid putting your vase near fruit bowls. Even if flowers and fruits look vibrant together, some fruits release tiny amounts of ethylene gas which can cause flowers to age prematurely.

More tips for keeping your flowers fresh

Aside from the usual flower care and general upkeep, you can try some more of these methods on how to keep flowers fresh for a long time. Check out the list below:

  • Stick them in the fridge - FTD by Design did an experiment to find out which popular method for keeping flowers fresh works the best. The best trick? The fridge! Based on the experiment, keeping flowers nice and cool for up to eight hours is the best way to extend their lifespan. Most flowers prefer cooler temperatures, so it only makes sense to put your beloved blooms in the fridge overnight while you sleep.
  • Sugar for your blooms - Remember one of the main ingredients in flower food? That’s right, sugar! Turns out, flowers, like humans, have a sweet tooth. Adding a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the water can keep your blooms looking vibrant as sugar provides flowers some of the nutrients they need.
  • Serve up some vodka - Did you know that flowers love some happy hour, too? Vodka in particular is often claimed to preserve fresh-cut flowers. The spirit has the ability to halt ethylene production; as a result, it slows down the wilting of your blooms. If you've got a bottle in your stash, add a few drops to your vase water and keep those flowers looking fresh!
  • Apple cider vinegar + sugar - Another homemade concoction that’s proven helpful for keeping cut flowers fresh is the old 1-2 punch of apple cider and vinegar. This combo does two things - vinegar slows down bacteria growth, while sugar keeps flowers fed. All you have to do is combine 2 tablespoons of sugar with 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar and add the recipe into your vase.

What not to try

There’s plenty of old wives' tales about how you can extend the life of your flowers. In most cases, while a lot of people swear by these tricks, they don’t work very well (if at all).

Here are some tricks to scratch off your list:

  • Using coins may not be wise - Some people say that dropping a coin (usually an American penny) or two to the bottom of the vase preserves the lifespan of the blooms. They logic behind this, they claim, is that the copper in the coins prevent bacteria growth. Unfortunately, copper actually can’t be dissolved in water and transfer to flowers. Plus, the pennies usually used these days are mostly composed of zinc.
  • Skip the hairspray spritz - Everyone’s grandmother says that spritzing flowers with hairspray can make them last longer. While it may do a great job at holding hair in place, the results are not the same for flowers.
  • Too much bleach - Flower food packets have bleach, so it’s perfectly safe to DIY it, right? In most cases, yes. Adding bleach helps keep water from getting too cloudy and bacteria from growing. However, adding more than ¼ teaspoon of bleach can do more harm than good, turning your stems a pale white!

Care tips for specific flowers

We’ve covered quite a lot of tips and techniques on how to keep flowers fresh for a long time. In this section, we’ll share some more care tips for specific flower varieties.

  • Roses (average life span: 7 days) - The most romantic of all blooms, roses symbolise love and passion. Aside from following the general care tips we shared above, one way to preserve the beauty of your beloved roses is by making sure that you remove any discoloured petals (also known as guard petals) surrounding the outside of the blooms. They’re also thirsty flowers, so it’s important to regularly check the water level.
  • Hydrangeas (average life span: 5-7 days) - Hydrangeas look breathtaking on their own and as part of a mixed bouquet. To make sure you give these flowers their maximum vase life, remove any wilted blossom immediately and recut the stem at an angle. Finally, place them in warm water for an hour or so. Just like roses, hydrangeas also need constant hydration.
  • Gerberas (average life span: 5 days) - With its bright variety of hues, Gerbera daisies will definitely add a pop of colour and cheerfulness to any bouquet. To maintain their beauty, it’s important that you keep them hydrated. Since they are also particularly sensitive to fluoride, it’s advisable to use distilled water in the vase.
  • Chrysanthemums (average life span: 7-12 days) - Also called as 'mums', these blooms take many shapes, petal formations, and colours. They generally have a longer life span compared to other flowers, lasting up to 7-12 days, but that doesn’t mean they don’t need extra care. The foliage, for example, needs to be removed if it starts to droop as it tends to deteriorate faster than the flowers themselves. 
  • Freesias (average life span: 4-12 days) - Freesias also boast a long life span, just like chrysanthemums. The same general care tips we outlined above are also applicable to freesias. The only thing you need to keep in mind is that these blooms prefer room-temperature water. It’s also essential to remove matured blossoms to keep your arrangement looking attractive. 
  • Calla lilies (average life span: 5-7 days) - These beautiful blooms are the epitome of elegance, which is why it’s not surprising that they’re also extremely delicate. The same general care tips apply to calla lilies, but you need to be extra careful in handling them as they tend to bruise easily.
  • Daffodils (average life span: 5 days) - Daffodils may be bright and cheerful-looking flowers, but did you know that they aren’t exactly the friendliest? When their stems are cut, they release a substance that shortens the life of other flowers. This is why some avoid mixing daffodils with other blooms. Or if they ever do, they make sure to soak the daffodils separately overnight before mixing them with other flowers.
  • Sunflowers (average life span: 5 days) - Whether displayed on their own or arranged alongside other blooms, sunflowers are lovely blooms that will surely add extra cheer to whoever receives them. If you want to keep these flowers bright in your vase for a long time, it’s essential that you regularly check the water level as they tend to be thirsty flowers too.

Knowing how to keep flowers fresh before gifting them, or once you receive them, will keep the blooms vibrant and long lasting. It will also allow you (or your recipient) to enjoy them for longer!

By following the tips and techniques we shared above, you can keep your bouquet looking fresh and extend their vase life for a long time.

Looking to brighten up someone’s day with a bundle of fresh blooms? Take a look at our collection! At Wild Poppies, we offer fresh seasonal flowers hand-styled by our expert florists for you. Whether it’s for a birthday, anniversary, graduation, or for any ordinary day you want to make special, our florists can help you put a smile on the face of your beloved with our beautiful blooms!

Call us on 0800 809 453 or come into our store and chat with our lovely team today!

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